Microbial fermented fiber is finally coming to the masses.
Goldwin launched its Fall/Winter 2023 collection of five brands simultaneously using the structural protein material Brewed Protein fiber, jointly developed with Spiber. The news comes two years after the Japanese biotech firm landed more than $200 million in funding through an equity investment to facilitate its research and development of animal-free synthetic materials.
Five brands have launched products featuring Brewed Protein fibers, including The North Face, Goldwin itself, Nanamica, Woolrich and The North Face Purple Label.
The North Face offered the Nupste jacket, which celebrated its 30th-anniversary last year, to feature the groundbreaking fiber. Available in natural, black, and olive colors, the outer surface layer comprises 60 percent Brewed Protein fiber, 25 percent wool and 15 percent nylon. Goldwin owns the trademark rights to The North Face brand in Japan and South Korea, though the jacket will be available for sale in the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, mainland China and Hong Kong, as well as Japan and online.
This collaboration between Spiber and The North Face furthers the VF-owned brand‘s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint by seeking more sustainable sourcing and material options. And with the increase in global attention toward environmental issues, The North Face and Goldwin said they believe that the application of this fiber will improve brand value.
“The North Face is continually seeking next-generation, proprietary product technologies that not only deliver on our brand’s longstanding commitment to performance, but also help us action against our sustainability goals and commitments,” Jennifer Ingraffea, chief product and merchandising officer at The North Face, said. “Spiber and its Brewed Protein fibers, which are made without reliance on petroleum-based materials or animal resources, are a perfect example of this and we are so excited for our consumers to see Spiber’s innovative material incorporated into some of our most loved, iconic jackets this fall.”
Woolrich presented its Future Artic parka, which debuted in 1972, to the capsule collection. In 2017, Goldwin acquired a minority stake in Woolrich International and remained an investor even after the premium outdoor company sold a majority stake to private equity firm L-Gam Advisors the following year. During that time, Goldwin designed Woolrich Outdoor, a premium men’s outdoor collection, for the company.
Nanamica’s Balmacaan coat will feature the same material matrix as its fellow Brewed Protein fiber products, available in black and natural colorways. The Japanese adventure brand was founded by Eiichiro Homma, the creative director for The North Face Purple Label. Goldwin has the exclusive rights to sell The North Face in Japan. The conglomerate offered its Cross-Field 3L jacket featuring the Brewed Protein fiber.
All five brands are owned, in some capacity, by Goldwin, and all feature the same material matrix and colorways. In Japan, a pop-up store selling all five jackets will open in the Marunouchi Building, a skyscraper in Tokyo, in September.
“We have set an activity goal of shifting 10 percent of our newly developed products to those using Brewed Protein by 2030. Through this joint development, we will rethink the relationship between nature and humans, and continue to consider a completely new way of using materials, products and economics that combine functionality and environmental friendliness to a high degree,” Goldwin said in a statement. “We believe that by designing and proposing sports apparel that will accompany future lifestyles in beautiful harmony with nature, we can make a significant contribution to the sustainable development of human society, and we will continue to pursue research and development in partnership with Spiber.”
Until now, all Brewed Protein fiber products were sold in limited quantities by lottery due to the restricted production of the fermented fiber. But now that mass production of the polymer at Spiber’s Rayong Province, Thailand, plant has begun—eight years since the start of the joint development—that’s no longer an issue. This collection will be the first to be sold on a larger scale under a mass production system, available globally starting this fall, Goldwin said.
The first product developed using the Brewed Protein fiber was the Planetary Equilibrium Tee, released by The North Face in August 2019. That same month, Goldwin prototyped the Moon Parka, the first commercially available outerwear jacket to utilize structural proteins manufactured through a microbial fermentation process that doesn’t rely on petrochemical resources. A year later, Goldwin launched knitwear dubbed The Sweater utilizing the fiber, retailing for $800. Last fall, it debuted a shell jacket and fleece from the Goldwin 0” project and a denim jacket and pants earlier this month—marking the first utilization of Brewed Protein fibers in denim products.
Brewed Protein fibers have the potential to expand the range of circular materials, as they can be broken down at the end-of-use phase into nutrients and used as feedstock for fermentation and production of new Brewed Protein materials, Spiber said. The trademark was named after the material’s production process, which is similar to that of alcohol.