A Thailand company, Rayfish, has begun to offer custom genetically created shoes for sale made from genetically engineered stingrays. The premise behind this offering is that customers can go to their website and choose a design pattern along with a color and create their own unique pair of sneakers. The company claims that they can take the design pattern and coloring and through a type of genetic alteration of unborn stingrays that are going to be raised in an aquaculture facility, create a stingray with those markings on it.
These fish are created and grown specifically to become a pair of customized shoes for consumers. The stingrays are harvested at about six to eight months, and then their skin used to create the distinctively designed custom sneakers. The cost is astronomical compared to other types of shoes, running about $14,800 to $16,000 US dollars at the moment. Once these customized stingray leather shoes are put into production, the price should drop to a “more reasonable” $1,800.
General production of customized stingray leather shoes is set to begin in late 2012. Rayfish has said that there are limits to the designs that can be created for these shoes. Logos can’t be created and no square shapes and no writing of any kind. There are nine genetic traits that customers can choose from that can eventually be made into a one of a kind pair of shoes.
This Thailand based company says they’ve identified the genes responsible for the patterns on stingrays and for their coloration as well. Customers mix and match from the specified assortment of colors and patterns and a stingray can be created with that particular skin pattern. For example, a snake-skin pattern could be combined with any of the available colors to create a one of a kind snake-skin look pair of shoes in a custom color.
There are ethical and legal questions being raised by groups such as PETA about creating animals that will be used to make custom designed shoes. Along with the questions raised are doubts by some that what Rayfish is claiming to be able to do is even possible with today’s available genetic technology.
The skin of stingrays and sharks is also known by the name Shagreen. Dating back hundreds of years, Shagreen was once used to make leather clothing. The texture of stingray skin is naturally roughly textured, and sometimes was used to make the hilts for swords, so the swords could not slip out of the hilts. Today this stingray or shark skin, Shagreen, is sometimes used in the art of bookbinding.
For those that truly want a totally unique custom designed pair of shoes, the opportunity to own a pair of them is reportedly coming soon. There is now a contest on the Rayfish company’s website, with the person that develops the best design creation winning a pair of these sneakers. It remains to be seen if these shoes do eventually go into production and whether there is really an interest on the part of consumers in owning shoes made from genetically customized stingrays.
Photo Credit: Rayfish