April 29, 2022
Have you ever thought of what your life might be like without zippers?
The first obvious problem would be in the clothing department… we would have to spend a lot longer getting dressed and keeping our clothes on. In a stiff breeze, it’s handy to have a jacket that zips up. Our jeans probably wouldn’t be as much fun to wear without zippers, either!
And what about all the bags, wallets, and pouches we rely on every day? Yes, there are other closing methods, but the zipper is by far the most widely used because of its reliable secure closing.
And if we step outdoors for a moment, what about travel? Zippers play an important role here, too. Our suitcase or backpack might spill its contents everywhere if it wasn’t zipped shut. We might also get cold at night if our sleeping bag or tent didn’t zip up nice and tight.
What did we do before the zippers? Well, we used to rely on buttons in the wardrobe department. They worked well, but they were time-consuming for both the wearer and the manufacturer.
The invention of the modern zipper took over 64 years and involved several creative people. The inventor of the sewing machine, Elias Howe, received a patent in 1851 for an “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.” Although it was a good idea, he didn’t market it, as he was probably promoting the sewing machine.
Then 40 years later Whitcomb Judson improved Howe’s idea and marketed an invention called the “Clasp Locker.” Judson design was specifically to be a fastener for shoes. To produce his new device, he started the Universal Fastener Company. The product was launched at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, but it didn’t gain much recognition or success.
The zipper we now know and rely on was eventually designed by Gideon Sundback in 1913. He was working at the Universal Fastener Company when he filed and received a patent for his “Separable Fastener” in 1917. This design increased the number of fastenings to 10 per inch. It included two rows of interconnecting teeth that latch together with the help of a slider.
The name “zipper” was first used by the B.F. Goodrich Company, who included Sundback’s device on a new type of rubber boots. They called the device a “zipper,” and the name stuck.
Early on, zippers were mainly used on boots and tobacco pouches. It took another 20 years before the fashion industry began to use zippers for clothing items. One of the first uses on clothing was replacing the buttons on pants.
Then in 2004, Ishay Halmut, an Industrial design Student from Israel, picked up a zipper, and with a burst of creative energy, long days (and nights) were spent experimenting and finally the breakthrough came with a few small changes to the sewing of a zipper. It was this pivotal moment that led to the product that would start it all - a case made entirely of one long zipper.
Today, zippers remain very popular and if you join ZIPIT and Unzip Your Mind, new and exciting zippers and uses for zippers are guaranteed to add a pinch of wonder to your everyday needs 😊