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Did you ever spend big bucks on a pair of pants and have the zipper fail after the first washing? Have you ever tried to get a de-railed zipper back on its tracks while sitting in the bathroom at a rock concert—well, maybe not that, but something similar?
You don’t just blame the zipper; you blame the brand of pants too. And that’s why fashion houses and motorcycle gear makers alike usually use YKK zippers. The letters stand for the Japanese company whose name translates to Yoshida Company Limited. It makes about half the zippers used in the world—seven billion zippers a year.
The company was founded in Tokyo in 1934 by Tadao Yoshida. Yoshida was obsessed with quality. At first the zippers were handmade, and could not compete with machine-made zippers. Then the company bought a machine from the US and they were off and running. The company has made improvements to zipper-making machinery and now manufactures its own, which are used in plants around the world, from Canada to Swaziland.
In its quest for quality, YKK not only makes its own machinery, it manufactures smelts the bronze for zipper teeth and then forges and molds the teeth. YKK makes its own polyester, spins its own thread, and then weaves and dyes the fabric for its zippers. It even makes the boxes used to ship the zippers. Because all this is done in-house, YKK can maintain consistent quality.
According to Seth Silverstein in an article in Slate magazine, founder Yoshida advocated a management philosophy that “no one prospers unless he renders benefit to others.” Yoshida called it the “Circle of Goodness,” and it means YKK goes the extra mile to deliver the best zippers to its customers.
Be aware that there are many Fake YKK zippers out there. They can be branded YKK but still be fake. At Eagle Leather, we sell clothing with Genuine YKK zippers, and they all come with one-year warranty. The warranty applies for everything else sold at Eagle Leather. Always inspect zippers, and make sure they work smoothly, especially when the place you buy from does not warranty their products.
The zipper was invented in the US, back in 1890 by Civil War veteran Whitcomb. L. Judson. The “chain-lock” fastener is the best known of his thirty patents. Despite a debut at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, the zipper didn’t achieve popularity during Judson’s lifetime. The company he and others formed to manufacture it was called the Automatic Hook and Eye Company.
In 1913, an immigrant from Sweden named Gideon Sundback made improvements that kept the zipper from popping open at random moments. The new zipper was called the “Talon,” and that became the company name. In 1923, Goodrich began using the Talon in its rubber boots and called it the “zipper.”
Modern zippers still use Judson’s design as improved by Sundback.
The early zippers were used mostly in shoes and tobacco pouches. After World War II, fashion designers began incorporating them in garments, so YKK’s evolution was right on time.
As you browse at the Eagle Leather store or online, notice how much gear uses YKK zippers. It’s one of the many quality-first choices we make, both in Eagle Leather brand goods and in items from other gear makers.