Recently, Adidas and Amsilk presented the result of their cooperation during the Biofabricate conference in New York: a new performance shoe made from Biosteel fibers that are an imitation of natural silk. With this, the brand introduces an upper that is made of a natural and fully biodegradable high-performance fiber, developed by the German biotechnology company Amsilk while the prototype sole is made of Boost material. Here, Amsilk’s CEO Jens Klein reveals more details about the innovation of the fibers that are lighter and at the same time the strongest natural fibers on the market.

Adidas recently showcased its worldwide first performance shoe made of AMSilk Biosteel Fiber. How did the collaboration with Adidas come about?
A first contact between Adidas and AMSilk was at the beginning of 2014. At that time it was only about the exchange of ideas. In the middle of 2015, we started with the project development. We have been working intensively with Adidas for over a year now.

How important is this fiber innovation for a sports brand today?
The trainers – commonly developed by AMSilk and Adidas – are the first global product made of a premium fabric consisting of nature-identical, artificial silken biopolymers. With this development, Adidas and AMSilk have set new standards of sustainability and functionality of textiles. The material uniquely combines qualities that are relevant for a high-end performance. Products made of Biosteel Fiber are, e.g. 15% lighter than those made of usual synthetic fibers. Potentially, it is the strongest available natural fabric right now. The fibers are completely sustainable, since they can be fully recycled.

Adidas focuses increasingly on sustainability during its product development. This includes the cooperation with Parley for the Oceans and the production of the first mass-produced shoe made of Parley Ocean Plastic – the UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley.

AMSilk is the perfect partner for Adidas to enter the market for biotechnologically manufactured high-quality yarns as early as possible.

100% recyclable upper
Photo: Amsilk
100% recyclable upper

Are fashion brands increasingly willing to invest into fiber innovation?
The interest in Biosteel as well as the readiness of brand manufacturers to invest in fiber innovations is enormous. We have received a large number of inquiries from well-known brand manufacturers who are interested in our Biosteel fibers.

What other brands are you still working with?
AMSilk is in contact with various partners from different industrial sectors and industries interested in Biosteel fibers for their products. Together with possible future partners, we are working on the first product prototypes. We can not make any statements on the names of the brands for reasons of contract law.

The fiber is said to be 100% recyclable through a fully natural process. What is the 100% Biosteel Fiber made of exactly? And what do you know about the duration of the degradation?
Biosteel is a naturally based, bionic high-quality fiber. The single fibers are made of silken biopolymers that resemble elemental silk. Biosteel is manufactured through a patented biotechnological process. The silken biopolymers are created by bacteria within an industrially established fermentation process. They’re equipped with the same unique characteristics as the natural role-model.

Exterior impacts, such as the season, temperature, or humidity determine the time span of the biological degradation of Biosteel Fiber in the nature.

How sustainable is the production of the fiber?
The production process is a biotechnological process developed by AMSilk and now patented. The production of Biosteel products as well as the AMSilk biopolymers in general is particularly environmentally friendly and sustainable. No environmentally damaging waste products are produced during the production process. In contrast to other production processes, high temperatures are not necessary in the production of the silk biopolymers, which means that additional energy is saved.

The AMSilk Biosteel fibers are the only natural-based (completely made of proteins) and 100% biodegradable high-performance fibers. The Biosteel fiber is also produced without the use of fossil fuels and is vegan.

Is the new trainer market-ready?
The rollout of the Biosteel Fiber trainer is set for season 2017/2018. In terms of price it will be located in the premium-segment, just like most of the innovative products that enter the market. Long-term, we’re planning to use the Biosteel Fiber for more products and by that offer it to a larger amount of consumers.