Rayfish Footwear, out of Chon Buri, Thailand, promises some very unique footwear made from genetically engineered stingrays. Using a patented process of bio-customization, the company offers customers their choice of a variety of colors and patterns. These designs are harnessed from nature itself by isolating DNA characteristics and injecting the custom blend into a fetal ray that will one day be shoes. Shagreen (stingray leather) has been used for centuries in everything from binding books to wrapping the hilts of traditional Japanese katana blades. The material has a rough bumpy surface making it ideal for products requiring a sure grip or rugged durability. Of course the aesthetics would have been limited by natural selection. Now the choice is yours. In the company FAQ Rayfish asserts that
Each shoe we produce is made from a single, one-of-a-kind stingray. Using our database of genes for coloration and patterning, we are able to offer an almost unlimited variety of designs for your bio-customized stingray.
This “One Fish, One Shoe” credo necessitates a wait time of about six to eight months from design to production as the animal matures to, what the company terms, “shoe-sized.” For now the cost of manufacturing a single pair of shoes is around $15,000, though the price is expected to reach $1,800 by late 2012 when Rayfish Footwear opens its doors to the general public. This amount reflects the cost to the company of genetically engineering a ray, nurturing the creature to shoe-size, producing the custom footwear, and finally shipping it internationally. Take a look at the video below to learn more about the product and production process.
If you can’t wait to own a pair Rayfish shoes you can enter the company’s design contest for a chance to win. The contest is centered around the Grow Sneaker Tool which offers an animated blank-slate stingray awaiting the users genetic directives. Choose from color/pattern combinations like Gladybug, shrimp, dragon, and bambi. The ray’s skin will morph and ripple with each addition to the three categories: pattern, foreground color, and background color. Play around with the placement of up to three attributes within their respective categories to fine tune the end design. If your design is chosen the company will use it to grow a ray and send you a pair of colorful shoes.
Check out the Grow Sneaker Tool on the Rayfish Footwear website.