A new shoe company, Rayfish Footwear, is now offering brilliantly patterned custom sneakers made from stingray skin. But instead of just etching the colorful designs on the stingray hide after removing the skin, a group of scientists are instead etching the designs right onto the DNA of the fish. In other words, scientists will genetically engineer stingrays so that you can have a unique and exclusive pair of sneakers. You can create your own design on Rayfish footwear’s website by using an online template offering 29 patterns that scientists can actually grow on your very own stingray. Dr. Raymond Ong, head of Rayfish Footwear says:
“We cannot breed any desirable shape or logo on the fishes, as our patterning process works by recording and recombining DNA of existing animals. Squares are for instance not possible, as the expression of the DNA on the skin doesn’t allow it. Also, the patterns that grow on the actual fish sometimes slightly differ from what you see in the design tool. Although it is almost perfect, we are still developing the mapping between the design tool and the DNA encoding further.”
You can choose up to nine skin combinations to build your shoe. Because they are still perfecting their methods, Rayfish Footwear is soft launching their product with a series of design contests. Log on to their site (here) to experiment with their design template, and enter your creations into a shoe-designing contest. Each winner will get a free pair of shoes.
Rayfish Footwear is set to officially launch later this year, at which time the shoes will start at $1,800 a pair.