It’s no rarity to browse around high street stores, to find yourself mentally redesigning the length of this skirt or the print on that bag. Well, if bizarrely shaped lace ups are your shoe of choice, look no further than Thai company, Rayfish Footwear Inc, who have taken it upon themselves to abolish this issue with a whole new strain of bespoke print design.
For $1500, Rayfish Footwear allow their customers to use their online design tool to select aspects of dozens of existing animal hides to create an entirely personalized print, before making the product with stingray leather. The prospect of footwear crafted from the hide of stingrays may seem bizarre enough in itself, but pales in comparison to the core techniques used in development.
In place of a thriving design team works a number of qualified geneticists. Using a technique referred to by specialists as “bio-customisation”, supergene clusters from other animals are implanted into stingray foetuses, essentially altering their DNA, to ensure that as they grow into otherwise normal, adult stingrays, the patterning on the skin mirrors the customer’s design.
The first breakthrough for creating these “transgenic” stingrays was in February 2010, when the same group of geneticists successfully bred and raised a stingray whose skin boasted the patterning of a rattlesnake combined with the colouring of the moon wrasse fish.
The stingrays themselves are raised in tanks, which specifically mimic their natural environments. While they are raised in humane conditions, the humanity of the concept itself is questionable at best. While the complexity of this science is undeniably spectacular, the narrative darkens when the stingray reaches six to eight months old, thus becoming what Rayfish Footwear Inc. refer to as “shoe-size”. At this point, these genetically enhanced wonders of nature are slaughtered to produce the afore-mentioned footwear.
The company claims to be ferociously opposed to the harvest of wild rays, and strictly committed to the conservation of oceanic species. The company’s morale in this department seems solid, the concept and science: innovative. Regardless, the usage of such brilliant technology in order to genetically alter, breed and kill living animals for the purpose of throwaway fashion leaves much to be answered for.
The ultimate in bad taste? Quite possibly.
Words: Lore Oxford
Images: Ray Fish Inc