Whether you’re a start-up fashion brand or a seasoned brand builder, this zipper guide is for you.
I get asked a lot about who I use for the zippers and other hardware on my apparel brands. Another question I hear a lot is what zippers to use and when.
This handy zipper guide offers helpful hints and includes a factory link to my own go-to zipper supplier.
Scroll to keep reading the expanded version of this zipper guide, or click to view my TikTok short now:
The History of Zippers
The common, everyday zipper as we know it was patented in three similar designs by three inventors. Known simply as a ‘zip’ or ‘zippers’ (plural), there is no known patent on the current design.
Elias Howe is best known as the inventor of the sewing machine. He is also the inventor of the zip. Five years after patenting his revolutionary sewing machine concept, Howe patented an “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure” in 1851.
40 years later in 1891, inventor Whitcomb Judson helped a friend with a sore back by designing a “clasp locker”, a basic slide fastener that could open and close using only one hand. Pitted with design flaws, Judson eventually gave up on his zipper design to create the “hooks and eyes” concept that would one day go on to fasten women’s corsets.
Exhibiting “his invention “clasp locker” at the Chicago World’s Fair two years after it’s conception, Judson was never able to successfully sell his zipper idea before his death, but his invention would go on to become famous.
As Judson’s patents came due to expire and other inventors began patenting similar devices, Swedish design engineer Gideon Sundback emigrated to America in 1905. By 1906. Sundback had begun modifying Judson’s hook-and-eye design.
By 1912, Sundback had filed for a patent that he amended in 1917. The “hookless fastener”, later referred to as Hookless No. 1, was followed by the Hookless No. 2 design in 1913. The modern zipper design now in use is derived from the Hookless No. 2 design.
The Purpose of Zippers
The modern zipper is used to fasten two edges of a piece of material. It has many applications, including to fasten men’s and women’s clothing, belts, shoes, jewelry, bags, watches, linen, and luggage.
Zippers as we know them today come in a variety of materials and feature a number of fastening options. This handy zipper guide will help you recognize which zipper to use and when.
4 Tips for Choosing the Right Zipper
- Choose an open-ended zipper stopper for jackets that need to be opened down the front, for instance, a hoodie or track top.
- Use close-ended zipper stoppers for pants, cushion covers, bags, shoes, and luggage.
- Open-ended zippers work best for jewelry designs that need to be removed after wearing, such as chokers or bangles.
- Materials and purpose are vitally important to choosing the right zip. There are 3 types of zips you might use:
- Coil zip chains have small, plastic teeth and work best in a flexible environment. Pants and jackets may fall into this category, depending on the design of the garment.
- Vislon zip chains are also made of plastic but have larger teeth. Though this design offers less flexibility, it is considered more durable. Shoes, cushion covers, and bags may use this design.
- Metal chains feature twin rows of metal teeth. They are by far the most durable of the types, but are heavy to wear in most instances. Luggage, leather jackets, boots, and other heavy duty products (such as workmen’s wear) may use these zippers.
Much like other fasteners, your end design determines how you finish off your product. The right zip can launch a billion-dollar brand. Carefully consider your options and remember to test the wear and tear of your zippers before going to market with your product.
Best Zipper Guide Vendor Factory Link
A go-to vendor for your own custom zippers, zipper pulls, and hardware of all kinds for your brand, this is the factory I use for my own products and designs.
Factory Link: SBS Zipper
This is SBS Zipper Co, a Hong-Kong based zip and fastener manufacturer that I use all the time.
What I love about this particular vendor is they list all of the trends that they saw per season, those that they advertised and focused on. You can go back a decade and look at all of them and then pick directly from that selection.
Their range features plastic and metal zippers, fully-customizable zips, and those you can just buy off the rack. Remember that zippers come with fabric, and you want to make sure you’re matching that to whichever garments you’re going to be putting them in.
What you’re going to do to bring your product to life is to find some of those examples from the trend reports or those advertised on their site that you like. Download copies of their leaflets for yourself, and use the available information to design your own custom zipper.
Things to consider include:
- your colors
- how you want to annotize it
- type of end product, etc.
To simplify and streamline your production process, it’s best to not let your existing factory know you’re sending them custom zippers. Rather, get them some samples, if possible. Then coordinate the shipments between the two suppliers.
Let there be unique zippers for thy brands… and let me know in the comments below how you’re doing or if you’ve discovered a more-reliable factory.
Catch the Builders.Build podcast with my best friends, Colin and James, to discover more about our individual TikTok perspectives and entrepreneurial journeys across brands, products, websites, and more.
Thank you for reading this zipper guide every clothing brand needs!
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