Do We Really Need $15,000 Genetically Engineered Stingray Shoes?

By Brenna Donoghue, President of Marketing, Ethical Ocean

More and more companies are offering opportunities to customize your own kicks. Nike led the charge allowing you to pick your own colors and textiles, and later companies like milk & honey have allowed you to even pick your own heel height.

However, Rayfish Footwear is taking the idea of customization to a whole new level, one that even this shoe-lover finds appalling.

Forget about mixing and matching pre-selected textiles and dyes, that’s so last year. Instead Rayfish invites you to engineer a transgenic stingray instead – one that you are given the power to make as pretty, funky, and well, fashionable as you would like. Your very own, one of a kind, shoe-sized stingray is then bred, and just six to eight weeks later, turned into shoes.

Rayfish calls the patented process “bio-customization.” I call it disgusting.

The Thai-based company has identified the genes responsible for coloration and patterns. Customers can mix and match nine genetic traits, say, combining the scaled look of a snake with the light pink hue of a shrimp. Rayfish then implants the synthetic ‘supergene’ cluster into fetal rays before they are born.

While Raymond Ong, bioengineers and CEO of Rayfish, says that “nature has already done the design work for us,” you won’t actually find any of these stingray in nature. There really is nothing natural about this.

To be expected, these are no cheap pair of shoes. Each pair will retail for $14,800-$18,000, including the cost of DNA manipulation, raising the stingrays, and shipping them to you anywhere in the world. Hopefully the price tag will dissuade people from buying a pair even if the ethics of the business don’t.

Personally, I am far more comfortable walking a few miles in 5 inch heels than I would ever be wearing a pair of shoes that I genetically engineered. Sure, they look cool, but genetically modified stingray are hardly required in the making of a unique pair of shoes.

Do We Really Need $15,000 Genetically Engineered Stingray Shoes?
Rayfish calls their patented process "bio-customization." I call it disgusting.

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