Jeans are without a doubt one of the most prevalent inventions in the last 200 years. The popularity in part is due to the tough, resilient weave of denim, but also to the characteristic copper rivet. The rivets added by Jacob Davis to the parts of pants that tended to rip most often. Together with Levi Strauss & Co they created one of the most enduring brands of clothing in the world.
And while jeans are a beloved part of anyone's closet, there are changes afoot that might mean a tougher, more resilient, more sustainable, pair of jeans is just around the corner. Levi Strauss & Co recently released news of their first pair of recycled jeans. A big move in the industry. Previously it has been difficult to create fibers tough and long enough from recyled jeans to weave a new pair. Yet, what if jeans never needed to be recyled? What if they could self-heal? What if we could make rivets unneeded? All of this appears to be possible based on new research looking at squid teeth - naturally.
The teeth on the suckers of squid put up with a lot of wear and tear. What's interesting is that the teeth are not mineralized structures like our teeth, but instead are composed primarily by a family of proteins that are similar to silk proteins. These proteins when isolated have shown an ability to not only harden and become tough, but also to self-heal when damaged. As scientist begin to unravel this unique aspect of protein-based materials we at LikoLab are excited about the prospect of creating a new pair jeans that could outperform existing rivet based technology, with good old fashioned silk smithing. We still might want a few 501's in our closet, but a pair of Squid Denim jeans would be good too.