Wednesday, March 30, 2011

So the Zipper...

We were just finishing dinner when I happened to glance at my brother staring at the zipper on his hoodie, slowly pulling it up and down. I kinda chuckled a bit at the sight and he looked up with an adorable lopsided grin and said something like "Haven't you ever wondered how a zipper works?" (My brother is 24 and married with 9 month old son.) Gotta love it. Anyways it sparked an interest in my brain and I started to wonder where in the world zippers did in fact came from.

Look at your zipper. See the initials YKK? It stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushibibaisha, the world's largest zipper manufacturer, located in.....prize for the winning answer!!

But I get ahead of myself.

It may not come as a surprise that the inventor of the sewing machine, Elias Howe, was the first to tinker with the idea of a what is now called the zipper. He received a patent in 1851 for an 'Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure', but it wasn't until 4 years later that Mr. Whitcomb Judson began to market a 'Clasp Locker', earning the credit of being the 'Inventor of the Zipper'. Judson's Clasp Locker was a complicated hook-and-eye shoe fastener. He launched the Universal Fastener Company which was devoted to creating this design, brilliant idea that wasn't very popular with the public unfortunately.

Enter Gideon Sundback, a guy with a creepy mustache and mad skills. He got a job at the Universal Fastener Co, becoming head designer and vastly improved Judson's lame design. Sadly his dear wife died which caused him to become obsessed with his work (to deal with his grief I assume) and by 1913 he had designed what is now the modern day zipper, the patent issued in 1917 for the 'Separable Fastener'.

Yet we still don't see the word 'Zipper' anywhere....well I have that fascinating information too. It came from the B.F. Goodrich Company who decided to use the Fastener on a new type of rubber boots and renamed it the 'Zipper', the name has stuck ever since. It took a full 20 years before the zipper graduated from boots and tobacco pouches to the fashion industry, beginning with children's clothing. Here's a fun fact, in a "Battle of the Fly" in 1937 the zipper beat the button! Woot! All thanks to the French apparently. who declared the zipper as the "Newest tailoring idea for men". Among its many virtues was that it was said to exclude "the possibility of unintentional and embarrassing disarray" Obviously, they had not yet discovered the experience of forgetting to zip-up ;)

So there you have it my friends, the history of the Zipper if you ever wanted to know.

All information was gleaned from


  1. Thanks Janelle, I was laying awake last night trying to figure that I know :)

    Seriously, that was very interesting! You better follow it up with where did buttons come from or velcro(I hear that is interesting).

    Love you Mom

  2. Seriously- you do have some spare time to do this? What if no internet? This would have taken weeks, and perhaps many letters and phone calls.
    Very interesting.

  3. Hey so you didn't tell use WHERE it was invented...wasn't it a Canadian...or am I completely remembering that wrong? Someone did a project on it in SS10

  4. AH! You are right! That is because the article never really said, but after a look at Wikipedia (the better info site) I discovered that it was invented in Chicago, though Swedish born Gideon did immigrated to Canada eventually.

  5. In the U.S. of course!! lol!!
    What about snaps? My favorite clothing closure!