Bio-Customised Stingray Shoes – Is there something fishy about all of this?

This is a bit of a sidetrack, and perhaps isn’t the most graphic design related post, but It’s one of the most interesting things I’ve come across over the past few months.

Introducing RayFish Footwear, the company that allows you to “design” your own stingray by genetically engineering the DNA which changes the patterns on the stingray. These bio-customised rays are then turned into stingray leather shoes as the video below demonstrates:

Now I’m no geneticist, however a very reliable source who actually understands sciencey type things has looked at their methods and confirmed its legitimacy. Initially I was a little wary of the ethicality of it all but really as a meat eating, leather shoe wearer there really isn’t much I can oppose. Most of the meat is donated to employees and then local meat markets, the skeleton is also made use of, with the cartilage made into a Thai dish. The leather itself is actually more hardwearing than cow leather as well, making the product a lot more durable than many other shoes.

Perhaps there is an argument in the fact that each pair of shoes requires two stingrays which are bred purely for cosmetic, aesthetic or consumerist and materialistic reasons. Although the fact the rest of the animal is also used kind of softens that aspect for me.

On the site you are presented with the option to “grow sneakers” this takes you to this rather addictive page, where you can then customise the pattern, background colour, and foreground colour of your stingray/shoe. Once you’re happy with your design you can add it to the gallery for a chance to win a free pair of shoes. A few of my designs can be seen below:

The store will go live later in the year. Initially the prices will range from $14,800 to $16,200, although this is expected to lower to $1,800 when regular poduction begins.

More information can be found here or I’d recommend reading their blog if you want to know more about the science behind it all.


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