To date the majority of our silk comes from traditional sources in Como, Italy. However, with the help of pioneering technology we are now exploring completely new ways of creating silk.
Como’s fabric mills have been around since the early 1900s. Today in Como, there are over 500 companies engaged in the silk and textile trade, through manufacturing, printing, dyeing, designing and selling.
Finding an alternative to peace silk
Over the years we have used a mix of traditional silk and Peace Silk. Peace Silk is essentially made the same way as commercial silk, but in this case the silkworms are able to turn into moths and emerge naturally from their cocoons. The silk is then gathered from the forests after the moths have flown away.
Although Peace Silk causes no harm to silkworms, we have experienced issues with using it over the years. The method results in broken silk thread that must be woven back together. We have found it difficult to source the quality and quantity of Peace Silk we need to produce our products.
Synthetic spider silk: The future of silk
Our dedication to innovation means we are always looking for new ways of bringing sustainability into our design methods while also creating the most beautiful product possible. A partnership with technology innovator Bolt Threads is allowing us to do exactly that with silk – and we are very excited about it.
Bolt Threads a biotechnology company located in California, is creating the next generation of advanced materials, and changing the future of silk as we know it. And it all starts with nature.
“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.” – Stella McCartney, 2017
By studying the silk that spiders make, Bolt Threads were able to understand the relationship between spider DNA and the characteristics of the fibres they make.
Their technology allows Bolt Threads to replicate these processes at scale, and create a vegan silk with remarkable properties, including high tensile strength, elasticity, durability and softness. Microsilk, as it’s commonly known, can be produced in a way that has less of an impact on the environment.
Not only is this method revolutionary, it creates cleaner, closed-loop processes for manufacturing, using green chemistry practices. It also produces less pollution, creates long-term sustainability and it is vegan friendly, because it is entirely made from yeast, sugar and DNA.
- Bolt Threads and MoMA – Items: Is Fashion Modern?
- We designed a dress made in collaboration with Bolt Threads, using their lab made, vegan-friendly Microsilk for MoMA’s exhibition ‘Items: Is Fashion Modern?’
- The exhibition explored the present, past and sometimes the future of 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries.
This partnership represents a huge step-change, not only for our brand, but for the future of fashion. One where our ideas, our resources and our methods of manufacturing are unlimited.
Silk supply chain map