Bolt Threads currently has so little product stock that would-be buyers had to enter into a lottery for the chance to purchase one of the ties. But investors and big brands are already placing their bets. In 2016, Bolt Threads raised $50 million from investors in its third round of funding, and partnered with Patagonia to develop sporting goods.
Describing conventional silk production as “about as efficient as it’s going to be after 5,000 years,” Widmaier said the potential variation from bio-manufactured spider silk was much greater, leaving plenty of room for innovation later on.
Even the word “silk” isn’t entirely accurate when it comes to the potential versatility of the product. “At the end of the day, we’re making protein-based fibres that have cross-sections and textures and properties such that they feel like almost anything you want—wool, nylon, or something entirely new,” Widmaier told the New Yorker.
Excitement about harnessing biological processes for fashion has been simmering beneath the surface at SXSW for years. But Bolt Threads goes further in offering a commercially available product made from a new kind of bio-produced material. Before long, modified organisms could be harnessed to produce a whole range of products. Smart brands should watch this space.