GOLDWIN x Spiber JOINT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
GOLDWIN x Spiber JOINT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
• New apparel product utilizes Spiber’s new structural protein material, Brewed Protein™
• Product developed as part of a collaboration between Spiber and THE NORTH FACE
• “Planetary Equilibrium Tee” a step towards Spiber’s vision of a world free from reliance on petrochemical resources
GOLDWIN Inc. (President and Representative Director: Akio Nishida, Head Office: 2-20-6 Shoto, Shibuya-ku,Tokyo 150-8517 Japan) and Spiber Inc. (Representative Executive Officer: Kazuhide Sekiyama, Head Office: 234-1 Mizukami, Kakuganji, Tsuruoka, Yamagata, 997-0052 Japan) have been jointly engaged in the research and development of structural protein materials since 2015. Today, they announce the limited release of the “Planetary Equilibrium Tee”, available for purchase from the end of August 2019 under the GOLDWIN-managed THE NORTH FACE brand.
GOLDWIN and Spiber’s joint research and development project seeks to address global issues through initiatives in the apparel industry. As part of this mission, the two companies have spent four years engaged in joint research and development initiatives intended to realize the industrialization of protein materials. In this time, Spiber has accumulated considerable expertise and made significant technological advances towards its goal of mass production. This progress has been accomplished by iterating through numerous cycles of the two companies’ product development and prototyping process, spanning microbial fermentation, processing, spinning, weaving, fabric processing, and garment creation. While Spiber’s endeavor first began with an attempt to mimic the properties of natural spider silk, the company now has the capacity to create a wide array of proteins materials that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of various applications within the sports apparel industry.
Today, GOLDWIN and Spiber are pleased to announce the Planetary Equilibrium Tee. Released under THE NORTH FACE brand, the tee utilizes Spiber’s structural protein materials, and serves as a manifestation of the company’s shared dedication to addressing environmental issues.
The newly-announced Planetary Equilibrium Tee is being launched under the collaborative “THE NORTH FACE Sp.” project. Sp. is an encounter between Spiber’s bioproduction platform and collaborators from across a wide range of industries. Through a new series of projects under the Sp. name, Spiber hopes to create a space in which human enterprise can achieve greater balance with the needs of the planet.
The concept behind Sp. arises from the multitude of viewpoints and approaches shared by our partners.
This diversity is further informed by our ongoing search for the optimal combination and implementation of the building blocks that nature has provided to mankind. At its core, Sp. represents a series of revolutionary collaborations, each based on a shared philosophy and mutual respect.
ʻDo more with less.’ From the start, THE NORTH FACE has embodied the ideal of finding balance with the environment through its dedication to combining cutting edge technology with an awareness of mankind’s relationship to nature. This way of looking at the world strongly resonates with Spiber—as a company, our every decision is based on the principle of ‘Society, Prioritized.’ This shared worldview has been the foundation of our partnership to date, and continues to inspire our latest collaborative creation:
THE NORTH FACE Sp.
This joint research and development project spans the domains of science, art, fashion, outdoor apparel and technology, and has brought us all the way back to the most fundamental level of design—creating from scratch the very molecules used in our products. This process serves as a catalyst for thinking about the future of the world—and our place in it.
THE NORTH FACE x Sp. Collaboration Item
PLANETARY EQUILIBRIUM TEE
Despite constituting only 0.01% of the mass of all living things on Earth, human beings have an outsized influence on the global environment. In 2018, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. published “The biomass distribution on Earth,” a survey into the balance of the global biosphere and humanity’s effects on it.* The paper estimates that, by weight, 82.5% of the Earth’s biomass is found in plants—the primary producers that support the rest of life. Microbes (bacteria, fungi, archaea, and protists) make up 17% of the total, with the remaining 0.5% consisting of animals. This balance— the “planetary equilibrium” we see today—is not static, but instead fluctuates over the course of Earth’s history. For example, while humans make up a mere 0.01% of the total, the combined weight of human beings and livestock is now over 20 times that of wild mammals. The quality of the relationship between humanity and nature is bound to further influence this equilibrium going forward. The valuable insights gained through this type of research both inspire and inform, just as they served to inspire the design of the Planetary Equilibrium Tee.
*Yinon M. Bar-On, Rob Phillips, and Ron Milo (2018) The biomass distribution on Earth. PNAS115 (25) 6506-6511
82.5 : 17.5
The Planetary Equilibrium Tee envisions a more progressive approach to clothing, featuring a blend of plant-based cellulose (cotton) and Spiber’s microbially-produced protein materials (Brewed Protein™).
The 82.5 to 17.5** plant-to-protein ratio recreates the current balance of the Earth’s biomass in a form that can be felt on the skin. In addition to symbolizing the proportion of plant to microbial life found on Earth, the shirt demonstrates the potential for an entirely animal-free manufacturing process.
The core materials in the natural cycle of the Earth’s living ecosystem are cellulose and protein. One of our visions with this project is to harness this cycle and create the resources used in the tee with these same elements—cellulose from plants, and proteins from microbes—to mimic as closely as possible the balance of nature.
The ‘Nutrition Facts’ motif on the body of the tee represents the fact that its constituent components can be consumed and reused by the Earth’s natural ecosystem.
Despite utilizing a heavy weight fabric, the Planetary Equilibrium Tee boasts a certain soft smoothness. This unique feel was realized by combining Spiber’s Brewed Protein™ material with high quality cotton—in a ratio that matches the makeup of the Earth’s biosphere—before treating the resulting material using our proprietary processing technology.
**While the value of 17.5% comes from the combined biomass of both microbes and animals, we chose to represent this in the tee by using animal-free,
microbially-produced protein material.
Product: THE NORTH FACE Sp. Planetary Equilibrium Tee
Price: 25,000 JPY + tax
Size: S/M/L/XL (unisex)
Color: Black (K)
Material: Cotton 82.5% , Unclassified fiber (Brewed Protein™) 17.5%
Description: Despite utilizing a heavy weight fabric, the Planetary Equilibrium Tee boasts a certain soft smoothness. This unique feel was realized by combining Spiber’s Brewed Protein™ material with high quality cotton—in a ratio that matches the makeup of the Earth’s biosphere—before treating the resulting material using our proprietary processing technology.
The Planetary Equilibrium Tee is a limited-release item of 250 pieces. For a chance to win the right to purchase the tee, please apply via the pre-order lottery form on Spiber’s website (entries limited within Japan). Successful entrants may finalize their purchase at THE NORTH FACE ALTER store from the end of August 2019.
Entry period: June 20th, 2019, 15:00pm to July 20th, 2019, 14:00pm
Place of sale: THE NORTH FACE ALTER (Jingumae 6-10-9, Shibuya, Tokyo)
Note: The Planetary Equilibrium Tee is available for purchase solely within Japan.
After four years of ongoing development, the MOON PARKA™ will enjoy a limited release this November.
The MOON PARKA™ has been continuously refined and improved since a prototype version was first unveiled in 2015. Having cleared the high quality standards demanded by outerwear products released by THE NORTH FACE, the MOON PARKA™ is slated for limited release in November 2019 as part of THE NORTH FACE Sp. Further details will be shared at an event scheduled for the end of August 2019.
At present, the majority of sports apparel items available on the market are produced using synthetic polymers such as polyester or nylon. These materials are made from petroleum, a resource created over hundreds of millions of years as carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere accumulates in the soil. In the last few hundred years—a mere blink of the eye in terms of the Earth’s history—mankind has removed vast quantities of petroleum from the ground for consumption, resulting in a variety of pressing environmental issues. Theseinclude sudden changes in weather and temperature patterns caused by the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, as well as increasing levels of pollution in both the air and the sea.
The market costs for many products which use petroleum-derived materials do not take into account the environmental cost of their use. Accordingly, we believe that it is the duty of the present generation to shift away from a short-term, consumerist economic model based on the use of non-renewable petroleum resources, and to move towards a sustainable, long-term economic model based on the use of renewable and recyclable resources. Through the joint research and development initiative between GOLDWIN and Spiber, we are striving to re- evaluateour way of thinking about the relationship between nature and mankind. By considering how to balance functionality with environmental considerations, and by examining the role of products and the economy, we hope to arrive at a solution for creating sports apparel items which can support a lifestyle in harmony with nature. In doing so, we believe we can make a considerable contribution to the development of a sustainable world. It is this belief that drives our continued effort towards this goal.
About synthetic structural proteins
Proteins, biopolymers which serve as some of the essential building blocks of life, are formed from straight-chain assemblies containing up to 20 types of amino acids. The characteristics of any one protein result from the order of these amino acids, and the process of evolution has driven the creation and refinement of the multitude of existing proteins which support life on Earth today. Some proteins, such as enzymes and antibodies, are responsible for a variety of physiological functions within living creatures. Others, such as those found in the cytoskeleton of cells or in spider silk, play a more structural role.
At Spiber, we call the latter type ‘structural proteins’. Examples of structural proteins include keratin, found in hair and nails, and collagen, an important component in skin and bones. Synthetic structural proteins refer to those proteins which, for a specific purpose, have been designed or selected for from within an almost limitless pool of possible amino acid combinations, and then produced via a microbial fermentation process. At Spiber, our proprietary technology allows for the creation of a hugely diverse range of such proteins, each with different features and forms. Due to their nonreliance on petroleum, Spiber’s synthetic structural proteins are biological, biodegradable, and accordingly provide a compelling, sustainable solution to the needs of the apparel industry, which is seeking to move away from microplastics and animal-derived materials. They also show great potential for use in lightweight components in the automobile and transportation industries.