How zippers impacted the fashion industry

  • When we put on a jacket, boots, skirt or pants, our instinct is to go straight to the zipper and zip things up. But zippers weren't always everywhere, so how did zippers revolutionize the fashion industry? Let's take a look at how it all started, and where it stands today.

    Where did it all start

    Before we delve into the rise of the zipper, it's good to know its storied history, so let's take a brief look at how it came to be. It all started with Elias Howe, a man the fashion industry is very grateful for. The innovator is highly praised for inventing the sewing machine, but five years later he created the "automatic continuous garment closure" known as the zipper.

    Since then, the concept of the zipper has spread to two others. Whitcomb Judson made "lock lockers" to help people in pain bend over to tie their shoelaces. Whitcomb's chief engineer, Gideon Sundback, made the tooth-like zippers we see today.

  • Rising popularity

    Who would have thought that the assassination of Franz Ferdinand would lead to one of the greatest fashion miracles in history? While this is not a direct cause and effect relationship, the BF Goodrich Company did not see the value of such a mechanism until World War I. When an executive working with Goodrich heard the sound it made, the word "zipper" became part of the lexicon.

    Rubber King proved its worth in clothing and equipment by fitting zippers to troop boots and other gear. The zipper gained widespread attention in the 1930s when it appeared on children's clothing as a way for children to dress themselves. Compliments for the zipper spread across the Atlantic, and French couturiers put it on gentleman trousers to make it all come together.

    Zippers are not only important to the fashion world, but without it we wouldn't have some common items in today's world. It is a key part of designing resealable bags and velcro.

    Various types of zippers

    These days, you can find three versions of zippers on everything from luggage to pants. Knowing what they are and where they are most commonly used can help you if you need a replacement.


    Some 100+ years later, the vintage metal zipper still holds a place in fashion. Fortunately, it has progressed since its inception. The best thing about metal zippers is how they look. The metallic look sets it apart from other zippers and is an essential part of many leather or denim items.

    Designers shy away from metal zippers if they are used continuously due to lack of flexibility. However, for items that you rarely wear or need an edge, using metal zippers is the right choice.


    There are many variations of coil zippers , the most common being invisible (hidden) zippers. It gets its name because the zipper is hidden behind tape, hiding its teeth from the naked eye. You'll most likely see this type of zipper on skirts and dresses, although they're also common in military and medical settings.

    Compared to other types of zippers, which typically use thicker woven material on the straps, invisible zippers typically use a lighter, lace-like textile, making them ideal for a variety of garments. There is another form of invisible zipper known as invisible zipper. The same zipper is a hidden reverse coil zipper. You'll see these fasteners on items that require a larger gauge than true invisible zippers.


    Over time, plastic zippers have gained attention as a colorful choice for fashion designers, and no one needs to worry about plastic zippers snagging their clothes. Molded polymer material helps make the zipper more durable and waterproof. One of the disadvantages of plastic zippers is that they are expensive due to the materials required to manufacture them.

    You can find plastic zippers on jackets, waterproof boots, children's clothing, and stationery. Because of their custom colors, they're popular on merchandise aimed at kids, adding some character to boring school supplies and clothing.

    Sensible zipper tricks

    Once you know the types of zippers you see on your clothing, it's time to consider these fashion tips when you're wearing an outfit full of zippers.

    Shape your body

    The more the zipper contours your body, the better off you will be. You don't want to distort parts of your body with the wrong zipper placement. Instead, you can use the midline zipper to your advantage and make you look slimmer. Additionally, zippers can give the optical illusion of elongating your body, making you appear taller than you really are.

    Allow customization

    One of the things that makes zippers useful is that they allow for constant customization. If you need to look professional, you can layer it over the top for a business look. If you're out on the town with friends, you can be more stylish. Whatever the occasion, skirts, shoes, tops or coats can look right and give you confidence in your stylish look.

    Skirts and Long Jackets

    Consistent with the custom aspect of zippers, it will do you good to find knee-high zippers for your front skirt. This zipper style has two pulls instead of one, offering a variety of options to find the length you want. You can wear the same dress on multiple occasions and it will look different every time.

    Don't be too wild

    Assuming you're not the next "King of Pop," chances are you won't make a leather jacket with tons of zippers look cool. Therefore, when making or buying items with multiple zippers, do not overdo it and avoid wearing items with multiple zippers. The best strategy is to mix and match your styles. If you have a leather jacket with a zip up all over, choose a pair of standard pants or a simple skirt. Before you leave, look in the mirror and use your best judgment to see if it looks too busy.

    With other items

    While most designers focus on adding zippers to premium garments such as skirts, jackets and trousers, they are diversifying their portfolios by adding zippers to shoes and other handy accessories. A pair of leather boots can complement a tailored suit, as can a handbag tied around the waist. There's no limit to what you can do to look stylish and make the most of the unique look of your zipper.

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