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The Biodegradable Shoe

Style, Tech
By Sofia Celeste 14 December 2016

MILAN, ITALY – The fashion and apparel industry has started to take some accountability for the millions of tons of clothing tossed into landfills every year. And the sports wear industry is no exception, since they often use synthetic polymers to make their performance wear. That's why adidas has just unveiled a biodegradable sneaker with AMSilk, a German company that produces synthetic spider silk called biosteel.

“In a year of ground-breaking innovations from adidas, the announcement of our partnership with AMSilk – and the unveiling of the adidas Futurecraft Biofabric shoe – is another step in our commitment to redefining the sports industry. By using Biosteel® fiber in our products, we achieved an unrivalled level of sustainability," said James Carnes, Vice President of Strategy Creation at adidas. “So we’ve started looking into whether we can achieve a neutral effect on the environment.”

Biosteel textiles are totally vegan based, made with genetically modified fermented bacteria, and is extremely strong. Apparently a spider web made of spider silk fibers can catch a fully loaded Jumbo Jet Boeing 746 with a weight of 380 tons.

The shoe is called the adidas Futurecraft Biofabric, a biodegradable running shoe, which was unveiled at last months Biofabricate conference in New York. Adidas hopes to have a commercial product ready by next year.

In an exclusive interview, Fairplay's Editor-in-Chief chats with AMS Silk's CEO Jens Klein on how the biofabricated silk compares to real silk and how it will be integrated into the fashion industry as we know it:

How are your silk biopolymers made? What materials make this sustainable silk?

The AMSilk high performance silk biopolymers are produced sustainably by using a patented biotechnological process. This is high quality biofabrication. The silk biopolymers are the result of an established fermentation process with special bacteria; spiders, silk worms or other higher organisms are not needed. Basically, our biopolymers consist of long chains made of repeating, covalently bonded amino acids. The AMSilk high-performance biopolymers give everyday products unique properties. Among other things, the polymers are biocompatible, breathable and robust.

How has technology made it possible for bio silk to rival real silk?

The biotechnologically produced synthetic silk is a perfect copy of the natural silk. It took many years of research to figure out the exact composition of natural silk. The crucial point: Unlike natural silk, biotechnologically produced silk can now be produced in large quantities on an industrial scale. AMSilk’s process for the industrial production of silk biopolymers is unique and patented worldwide. For the analysis of the natural silk and the production of the synthetic silk most advanced technologies were used.

Silk comes from silk worms - why is this not bio or sustainable?

In the case of AMSilk the natural example is spider silk. Of course the silk of silk worms or spiders is also bio and sustainable, but as already said above, it can’t be used for the industrial production, because it’s not possible to produce the necessary large quantities of silk by animals. Also for our process no animals have to die.

Has there been a request from the luxury fashion industry? Can you name names of companies that have used your materials?

As our functional silk biopolymers are very flexible in their application and thus can be used in a large variety of products, AMSilk is in contact with different industry partners who are interested to use the silk biopolymers for their innovative products. Together with our possible future business partners we are producing first product prototypes, however we can't currently state any names of companies due to confidentiality agreements. But the luxury fashion industry surely is one target industry for our silk biopolymers.

Currently the AMSilk products Silkbeads and Silkgel are already worldwide successfully used in cosmetic and personal care products, mainly in Asian countries. In Europe, “protect by aln” by Lealin GmbH (Germany) for example, is a product with Vegan Silk by AMSilk.

MILAN, ITALY – The fashion and apparel industry has started to take some accountability for the millions of tons of clothing tossed into landfills every year. And the sports wear industry is no exception, since they often use synthetic polymers to make their performance wear. That's why adidas has just unveiled a biodegradable sneaker with AMSilk, a German company that produces synthetic spider silk called biosteel.

“In a year of ground-breaking innovations from adidas, the announcement of our partnership with AMSilk – and the unveiling of the adidas Futurecraft Biofabric shoe – is another step in our commitment to redefining the sports industry. By using Biosteel® fiber in our products, we achieved an unrivalled level of sustainability," said James Carnes, Vice President of Strategy Creation at adidas. “So we’ve started looking into whether we can achieve a neutral effect on the environment.”

Biosteel textiles are totally vegan based, made with genetically modified fermented bacteria, and is extremely strong. Apparently a spider web made of spider silk fibers can catch a fully loaded Jumbo Jet Boeing 746 with a weight of 380 tons.

The shoe is called the adidas Futurecraft Biofabric, a biodegradable running shoe, which was unveiled at last months Biofabricate conference in New York. Adidas hopes to have a commercial product ready by next year.

In an exclusive interview, Fairplay's Editor-in-Chief chats with AMS Silk's CEO Jens Klein on how the biofabricated silk compares to real silk and how it will be integrated into the fashion industry as we know it:

How are your silk biopolymers made? What materials make this sustainable silk?

The AMSilk high performance silk biopolymers are produced sustainably by using a patented biotechnological process. This is high quality biofabrication. The silk biopolymers are the result of an established fermentation process with special bacteria; spiders, silk worms or other higher organisms are not needed. Basically, our biopolymers consist of long chains made of repeating, covalently bonded amino acids. The AMSilk high-performance biopolymers give everyday products unique properties. Among other things, the polymers are biocompatible, breathable and robust.

How has technology made it possible for bio silk to rival real silk?

The biotechnologically produced synthetic silk is a perfect copy of the natural silk. It took many years of research to figure out the exact composition of natural silk. The crucial point: Unlike natural silk, biotechnologically produced silk can now be produced in large quantities on an industrial scale. AMSilk’s process for the industrial production of silk biopolymers is unique and patented worldwide. For the analysis of the natural silk and the production of the synthetic silk most advanced technologies were used.

Silk comes from silk worms - why is this not bio or sustainable?

In the case of AMSilk the natural example is spider silk. Of course the silk of silk worms or spiders is also bio and sustainable, but as already said above, it can’t be used for the industrial production, because it’s not possible to produce the necessary large quantities of silk by animals. Also for our process no animals have to die.

Has there been a request from the luxury fashion industry? Can you name names of companies that have used your materials?

As our functional silk biopolymers are very flexible in their application and thus can be used in a large variety of products, AMSilk is in contact with different industry partners who are interested to use the silk biopolymers for their innovative products. Together with our possible future business partners we are producing first product prototypes, however we can't currently state any names of companies due to confidentiality agreements. But the luxury fashion industry surely is one target industry for our silk biopolymers.

Currently the AMSilk products Silkbeads and Silkgel are already worldwide successfully used in cosmetic and personal care products, mainly in Asian countries. In Europe, “protect by aln” by Lealin GmbH (Germany) for example, is a product with Vegan Silk by AMSilk.

 

 Photo: adidas

 

 Photo: adidas

 



Sofia Celeste
FAIRPLAY Editor-in-Chief


When she is not hunting down the latest in tech and fashion, Sofia Celeste is scouting artisan talent for her online magazine www.bacoluxury.com.
Born in the US and raised on the Pacific Island of Guam, she went on to write for Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal. Her work is now regularly published in top fashion publications NOWFASHION and WWD.

 



Sofia Celeste
FAIRPLAY Editor-in-Chief


When she is not hunting down the latest in tech and fashion, Sofia Celeste is scouting artisan talent for her online magazine www.bacoluxury.com.
Born in the US and raised on the Pacific Island of Guam, she went on to write for Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal. Her work is now regularly published in top fashion publications NOWFASHION and WWD.