The fiber can then be built into silk strands that can be knitted or woven into apparel and other materials. In 2016, Bolt Threads debuted its first commercial products — a high-end silken necktie and a skullcap hat. The company also produced a one-off gold-colored dress, in collaboration with designer Stella McCartney, which was shown at various fashion shows last year.
Earlier this month, Bolt Threads announced a new partnership with New York startup Ecovative to manufacture Mylo, a synthetic leather made from mycelium, the underground root structure of mushrooms.
Under specific growing conditions, mycelium self-assembles into a supple material that looks and feels like animal leather, Widmaier said.
“We're currently growing Mylo in Ecovative's facilities in New York, as well as exploring additional facility options for continuing to scale up the process,” he said. “We're simultaneously working on process optimization at our labs in Emeryville (California).”
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The company's first Mylo handbags will go on sale later this summer by way of retail partnerships with Patagonia and the online retailer Best Made Co., which Bolt Threads acquired earlier this year.
The company is currently making relatively high-end products — retail price for the hat is around $200 and the necktie is $300. The company has yet to set a price for the Mylo handbags, but the company said it will be equivalent in cost to premium leather bags.
The ultimate goal, Widmaier said, is to ramp up production and gradually expand into several new lines of Microsilk and Mylo products at various price points. By making silk without spiders and leather without animals, Bolt Threads hopes to establish a new and sustainable approach to manufacturing apparel and other accessories.
“The textile industry at large hasn’t achieved major innovation in decades,” Widmaier said. “We hope to create innovative materials that are better for our planet.”