shoes made from genetically engineered stingrays shoes made from genetically engineered stingrays
may 30, 2012

shoes made from genetically engineered stingrays

rayfish footwear brings customization to a whole new level, by offering customers the opportunity to generate their own pair of personalized sneakers made from genuine stingray leather.*

though they have allegedly been in operation for more than a decade, 2011 marked a milestone in which the company successfully engineered their first fully bio-customized stingray using a technique which the have developed that allows you to design your own transgenic stingray. at the rayfish footwear labs, they purportedly use the DNA which the have stored in their genetic library, to identify the genes responsible for color and pattern, implanting the synthetic ‘supergene’ cluster into fetal rays before they are born. as they grow and mature, they express the predetermined patterns on their skin. markings and coloration from dozens of varying species can be combined, resulting in an infinite variety of shoe designs.

using the brand’s online ‘grow sneaker tool‘ you can select elements from dozens of animal patterns and remix them into something that nature itself could never have even imagined. working on the manufacturing principle of ‘one fish, one shoe’, rayfish footwear raises stingrays in their thai aquaculture facility where the family-run business creates these handcrafted shoes.

keep reading for more info and video…

detail image via

up close look at the genuine stingray leather image via

the genetic foundation of the company’s work and its press relations raise high suspicions about the veracity of the project. extremely interesting conceptually as a look into a possible future, the company and its customizable grown sneakers also raise real, relevant questions into the practices of the leather, fashion, and design industries.

video simulating the bio-customization process


  • Not cool man, not cool…

    gz/gtz says:
  • let’s keep on like this…fucking nature…
    why you publish this kind of stuff?

    Du says:
  • That is disgusting. How can they sleep at night?

    If I ever see anyone wearing these shoes I will go out of my way to make sure they never wear them again.

    Sax says:
  • Im waiting for the next shoes collection made of phosphorescent human \”leather\”

    Dieter says:
  • There’s a hefty dose of wisdom for you: humans and sting rays are of equal value. Right. We probably shouldn’t grow cotton for canvas shoes either: cotton should be allowed to run free! What ever happened to survival (and fashion) of the fittest?

    This company isn’t doing anything different from manufacturers of suede shoes, just taking greater control over their supply chain. In fact, I think sacrificing a few rays and then hand-making the shoes in a family-owned shop is more ethically defensible than the synthetic shoes being manufactured by Chinese child laborers.

    Get your priorities straight folks. Thanks for another interesting tip, Design Boom.

    Dada Man says:
  • This company isn’t doing anything different from manufacturers of suede shoes…
    could you name a suede shoes that does genetic manipulation ?

    linearprioritizing says:
  • This company isn’t doing anything different from manufacturers of suede shoes…
    could you name a suede shoes company that does genetic manipulation ?

    linearprioritizing says:
  • Oh god, this is no design at all, this is cruelty 🙁

    Marta says:
  • …..very sick AD

    kkk says:
  • Sad

    ADD says:
  • I think it’s baller. Prove to me stingray fetus have feelings and this harms them…? The only thing these manufacturers are taking from the stingray is their ability to camouflage, which is obsolete because they’re farmed by people. Genetically modified food is sold and consumed all the time, GM mammals included. If this is happening to our food why not modify animals for aesthetic qualities? This is a an exciting new opportunity.

    Thanks Design Boom

    spitz says:
  • I completely agree with spitz, linearprioritizing and Dada Man.
    Honestly, how is this any different from other animal products that are farmed for our consumption?
    Cows? Pigs? Fish? Sheep? The list continues…
    I think this is a unique and interesting exploration, and pretty cool fashion direction. Love it!

    Venus says:
  • This is disgusting, what is wrong with people? Can we not leave nature alone? These creatures belong in our oceans, not in a laboratory providing us with colourful footware.

    Nicci says:
  • ….and nicci fails to understand anything that any of the rest of us are talking about.

    gonzo says:
  • Doesn’t that sound a little “too strange to be true” ?

    Charles says:
  • What a waste of an animal life!

    (And those who presume that those objecting to this don’t object to similar use of other animals are, of course, cheating in that assumption.)

    Daniel says:
  • we found a new species to destroy! stupid mankind!

    morgen says:
  • IF this is real, the science is very impressive but morally dubious. However, I reckon this is a hoax because not even the most self absorbed fashionista would do this (maybe… they might…) and normally anti GE groups or PETA would be screaming their heads off at the merest sniff of publicity.

    I wouldn’t wear them because I’m not nearly cool enough.

    Greenjacket says:
  • i think designboom has it right that the whole thing is a hoax. its absolutely great though. too clever for PETA to have done, but whoever did it is genius.

    fox says:
  • Freaking AWESOME!

    Zilly says:
  • sick, sick, sick and also disgusting, disgusting and disgusting : ((

    roberto says:
  • If this is real, this is DISGUSTING and a horrible project. I can’t believe people are actually defending this!?!? What’s WRONG with you!?!?!?!?

    Someone wrote “I think it’s baller. Prove to me stingray fetus have feelings and this harms them.”

    Are you insane ? It’s sad to know some people still think Humans are superior to every other organism and have a right to do whatever they want as long as it benefits them. Disgusting and pathetic.

    PS: Has anyone read Michael Crichton’s novel ‘Next’ ?

    Jack says:
  • Awesome! Sign me up for a pair with blue and yellow horizontal stripes!! A bit wasteful, though? Maybe in addition to the sneakers, they could ship a few frozen stingray steaks with your order – waste not want not.

    Allen says:
  • stop using animal skin

    ine says:
  • This is sick!

    Rouven says:
  • < SICK of course. The skin may be, is original but the colors and patterns for my eye aren't; the skin is sprayed or impregnated with pigments (some color irregularities can be seen if you look closer). I think that that kind intense colored symmetric mosaicism even with our knowledge and available molecular technologies today is difficult to achieve, also biology has its own unique rules and not are easily manipulated. I would not pay (attention!) 1800 USD for those shoes, even would not have them for free. Also I would not applaud that kind of pumped success, let it be commercial nor technological, because it's a SICK bio-??? trend. manipulating and abusing animals > recombinant DNA technology > the prefix BIO- > and those people who work for you in china or elsewhere.

    @Greenjacket > not science in itself, scientist and artist who promote such idealism are morally dubious

    mdefen says:
  • I’m 100% sure this is a hoax, and I should know – I work with synthetic biology. I know for certain that the few biological pattern generators described are most certainly not amenable to such a modular application in fish. That sort of combinatorial genetic programming is far from realized in even simple systems like brewers yeast, let alone a complex vertebrate. Aside from the obvious photoshopping that should have alerted any editor worth their salt, there’s a much more obvious proof. Why go through all the trouble of developing an incredibly complicated and novel technology when the same output can be achieved by simply dying leather? They’ve snuck a fairly obvious and clunky Rube Goldberg machine right by a whole host of people who didn’t bother to fact check with real scientists, or even look to see if Raymond Ong has any previous publications or any records of him performing science anywhere. (He doesn’t.)

    Rick says:
  • Fake.

    obviously says:
  • A great Photoshop® project guys, well done. If you look closely anyone can see that the image is the same, only different colour filters. As a way to raise awareness about GMO and use of animal skin for production of consumer goods (luxury as well as budget), this one is at least beautiful and smart enough to catch some stupid fish on the hook (pun intended). If you think it’s cruel to genetically modify animals and then kill them to eat and wear their skin maybe you should reconsider eating meat and wearing leather shoes altogether. Or just go on being hypocrites… after all, humans are not flawless.
    Stingrays are, though.

    Max says:
  • @spitz you said “Prove to me stingray fetus have feelings and this harms them….” It is humanly arrogant to demand such a stupid thing to prove. Shall I punch your baby fetus in the face to prove it has feelings?

    btw +1 for the hoax, you got me for a second

    marc says:
  • < compared with some original ray fish leather on internet, this shoe leather structure of epidermal stratum corneum has to deep and narrow cutaneal sulci (fine grooves) and to bulge cutaneal crysts (elevated areas), also the crysts are more prominent per unit area compared to the original. The material looks also softer than the original leather. It looks like polyurethane. The sides of the whole skin preparation have remnants of fine filaments of textile what resembles the sides of bonded leather. and like previously stated the colors are artificially applied. on the picture one cutaneal cryst may have two colors at the same time. however in nature each cryst has its own color, I believe. >

    also look closer at

    fake +2

    mdefen says:
  • disgusting yes! a kind of product that i can not be a part of its consumption!!
    i believe it is not fake and this is another way of marketing to sell the things produced by wasting animal life. the difference is them to invite the consumer to \”share\” the destroying mechanism by designing the dna stuff texture..

    nur says:
  • it is not always safe to share your ideas with others, especially these type of ideas which causes danger to others 😐

    T Z H says:
  • this is the most grotesque form of human vanity i have ever encountered.
    i feel for the stingrays.
    this is the epitome of the ethically bankrupt nature of fashion and now design

    nicola loder says:
  • WTF ?

    mika says:
  • Suede / Just the Indians and the buffalo. People eat cows and utilize their hides for shelter from the elements. Like in teepees or in leather coats. Do people eat stingray meat?

    annlovely says:
  • Stupid fashion design art students who don’t know what to do with themselves

    lets keep raping earth says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design news