Artificial Spider Silk Startup Acquires Apparel Company
As someone who is petrified of any and all spiders, I never thought I would spend so much time reporting on them. The thing is, spider silk has been the subject of a few recent developments that connect to the promotional apparel sector. So, I'm putting my deep-seated arachnophobia behind my duty to deliver the news.
Remember a few months ago when we reported on Bolt Threads, a Bay Area startup that developed artificial spider silk to create apparel and accessories, like ties? That same startup just purchased Best Made Company, a New York City-based outdoor company that sells apparel, tools and camping gear.
This actually isn't the first big-time deal Bolt Threads has made. Last summer, it got $50 million in funding and a partnership with apparel giant Patagonia to develop synthetic spider silk for apparel, according to Fortune.
It makes sense that outdoor companies would look to invest in faux spider silk: Think about what a spider uses its silk for. With the toughness and durability of artificial spider silk, companies can make strong climbing equipment and accessories. Also, with its natural composition, those companies aren't trading durability for environmental consciousness.
The researchers at Bolt Threads studied spiders to learn about how they develop the silk. The answer, it turns out, was similar to how alcoholic beverages are made from yeast and fermentation.
"Think about any time you consumed beer, wine or bread," Dan Widmaier, CEO of Bolt Threads, told Fortune. "That is a product made of yeast."
But, instead of making beer, Bolt will use that yeast to create spider silk protein.
Companies shouldn't quite get excited to use artificial spider silk apparel and accessories just yet, mind you. Widmaier says the company has "gotten to the point where the cost is manageable," and that he has a clear plan for bringing the cost down even lower going forward, but it's going to take a little bit of time to make the process fully economically viable.
But, with this acquisition, it shows Bolt Threads really means business, and has a real product to back up that ambition.
(Editor's note: I am thankful every day that my job does not require researching spiders.)