How the Small Zipper Changed the Big World of Fashion

It is a seemingly unimportant accessory that most people often take for granted. You are probably using it every single day without you noticing it at all, let alone wondering where it originated in the first place.

However, at one point, the zipper was considered a game-changer in the fashion industry, and not only for its functionality. Zippers also went on to be used as statement accents on garments even in non-functional purposes, just to add a unique touch to a piece. You almost definitely have some clothes in your closet that feature zippers as fashion details.

The Bumpy Start of Zippers

Unfortunately, the zipper didn’t make waves right from the get-go. In fact, it appeared like it was meant to be a big flop. Whitcomb Judson, American inventor, developed a design in 1893 similar to the modern zipper today as a means offastening the button-up boots that were a hot trendduring the time.

Judsoneven exhibiteddevice at the Chicago’s World Fair, yet it didn’t receive any acclaim. It wasn’t until Gideon Sundback, another innovator, improved on Judson’s idea and had this picked up by a major manufacturer of bootthat marked the more widespread use of the zipper.

“Battle of the Fly” happened in 1937 to determine whether zippers or buttons were better fasteners for pants for men. The zipper emerged victoriously, and its place in the world of fashion was solidified as French designers started singing its praises.

The Global Zipper Phenomenon

France and America weren’t the only countries to realize the potential of the zipper.Tadao Yoshida, a Japanese businessman, recognized the utility of this small device and started innovating better and more efficient machines for zipper production, leading to global success in the zipper industry.

Yoshida’s company was later called YKK, and it continues to be among the world’s leading manufacturers of zippers, making the zipper an accessible fashion item for many people all over the world.

Zippers Turning The Fashion Tides

When zippers increased their efficiency and popularity, they would be seen on more than men’s pants and boots alone. They became the preferred closure for dresses for ladies, and during the 40s and 50s, the zippers started to be used not just as functional fasteners, but also as detailing pieces.

The zippers were now exposed on necklines and sleeves, and the fronts of dressesinstead of being discreetly tucked into the side-seam. The emerging bold fashions for ladiesrequired bold details, and the zipper was able to fill this void.

Every single piece of clothing can be said to have a unique feel and character. What gives a piece its distinct identity is the tiny details that set it apart from the ordinary. The zipper might have initially started out as a simple piece for its functional practicality, but through the years, it has turned into a method of expression that permeatesthe entire fashion industry.

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