British fashion designer Stella McCartney, long known for her focus on sustainability, is teaming up with San Francisco-based Bolt Threads, a biotechnology company dedicated to creating the next generation of advanced materials.
The duo will together pursue the next chapter in innovative luxury fabrications in a bid to reduce the fashion industry’s reliance on petrochemicals and damage to the environment.
The first piece from the partnership will be a one-off gold dress made from Bolt Threads’ signature “spider silk”; a lab-made protein-based yarn. It will feature in an upcoming exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art called Items: Is Fashion Modern?
“From the day we founded Bolt Threads, we’ve dreamt of partnering with Stella McCartney,” said Dan Widmaier, CEO of Bolt Threads. “Not only does she have an unparalleled aesthetic, but her values and pioneering sustainable fashion align perfectly with our vision for the future of fashion.”
As highlighted by Bolt Threads in a blogpost about the partnership, McCartney is constantly looking for how to step away from the very traditional way in which the fashion industry operates. In 2015 she said: “We’re excited by risk. We’re excited by thinking outside the box. We think that’s modern. And I think the fashion industry is supposed to be modern, and I find it so extraordinarily old fashioned at times that I can’t really get my head around it.”
On today’s announcement, she noted: ‘’On a personal and professional level partnering with Bolt Threads is so exciting, because it feels like everything is finally coming together and the dots are being connected between fashion, sustainability and tech innovation. This is something that I’ve been personally on a journey to find for much of my career and I just feel like there is finally a new opportunity to bring so many industries together and for them to all work as one for a better planet. It is a truly modern and mindful approach to fashion.
“The industry has so much heritage, but at times it can be damaging to the environment and it can also drag you in a backwards direction and for me I always want to move forward in fashion and this is truly a moment to celebrate technology and the future of fashion.”
McCartney’s continual pursuit for more sustainable materials also recently saw her introduce a new viscose program that addresses the issue of deforestation. She also uses organic cotton, regenerated cashmere, vegan leather and recycled soles on her footwear, as further examples. Her focus even extends to alternative glues for her bags and sustainable woods in her stores, while her most recent ad campaign draws attention to overconsumption, set in a Scottish landfill site.
Speaking in November 2016, she said 53% of her womenswear collection can currently be considered sustainable, up from 30% in the early days. Her new menswear line is at 45%.
Bolt Threads, which has a new 11,000 sq ft fiber spinning facility, is also focused on closed-loop processes for manufacturing, using green chemistry practices. The company, which was founded in 2010, released its first ever product in March 2017 – a knit necktie made of its 100% Boltspun spider silk. At the time Widmaier explained: “We see this as the beginning of the story. We’re releasing it in limited quantity to put a statement out there, but there will be more to follow.”
The partnership with Stella McCartney promises to continue to announce and reveal new initiatives throughout the remainder of 2017 and beyond.
This post first appeared on Forbes