Bay Area biotechnology company Bolt Threads has launched its second consumer-focused garment, taking the form of a Best Made-branded hat that combines bioengineered spider silk with wool fibers.
Costing $198, the head-warmer is limited to just 100 units and goes on sale today through BestMadeCo.com.
Founded in 2009, Bolt Threads’ previously stated mission is to engineer the “next generation of high-performance fashion fibers.” The company launched out of stealth in 2015 and went on to raise $90 million in venture capital funding, including a $50 million tranche last May that coincided with a new partnership with outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia. The company is also currently in the middle of raising another $106 million, according this SEC filing, though it appears it has currently only secured around half of that.
Bolt Threads recently announced its first ever acquisition when it snapped up Best Made Company, a New York-based outdoor apparel company. Thus, the duo’s first collaborative product is the Best Made Microsilk Cap of Courage.
Today’s launch comes nine months after Bolt Threads launched another limited edition product, a $314 necktie that was made entirely from synthetic spider silk.
Working at the molecular level, Bolt Threads want to transform the textiles market through leveraging renewable raw materials for its products. The company studied silk protein deposits to determine why silk has such quality and strength, and then recreated these proteins in a lab through fermenting yeast, sugar, and water, culminating in its “Microsilk” material.
Bolt Threads isn’t alone in this realm. Japan-based Spiber partnered with North Face back in 2015 to produce a concept spider silk jacket called the Moon Parka, though it seems this was just a prototype product.
The meat industry too is being disrupted by lab-grown equivalents. Back in August, Memphis Meats raised $17 million from some big-name backers including Bill Gates, to help produce a variety of meat products that use animal cells, without the need to breed or slaughter animals in the process.
Bolt Threads’ hat blends its synthetic Microsilk with American Rambouillet sheep wool from Mountain Meadow Mill in Wyoming, and took nine months to create the 100 hats on sale today. It’s still not entirely clear when the first mass-market products will roll out of Bolt Threads labs, and for now it seems the first products to market are more a show of technology than anything else.