If you’ve looked at your bag recently, did you notice a strange letters on your zipper? While it’s not as mysterious as clothing care symbols, it’s led many to wonder: what the heck is YKK. At a century old, we thought it was time to take a deep dive into what's keeping your bag's contents in check: the zipper.
What are YKK zippers?
In the early 1930s, a young Japanese tinkerer designed his own zipper machines. His name was Yoshida Kogyo. He founded his company, Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha, in 1934. Today, YKK is still a monster zipper brand based in Japan. YKK crafts each zipper to the last detail, smelting its own copper and molding its teeth.
The cycle of goodness
YKK's popularity rose due to its product's dependability. Kogyo was a principled businessman, who believed in creating good products. Micro-managing each part of the process led to vast successes for YKK. It's why you see them on everything you own.
Why do we like YKK zippers?
The color choices and custom options on YKK zippers may seem like a rabbit hole to some. But for us, being able to choose the best zipper for each product is part of our commitment to great design. Not only can we choose color, but we can choose the metal, smoothness, zipper pull, and many other features. You didn't know zippers came with so many choices, did you?
The zipper before YKK
Patented in 1917, Giden Sundback refined the "Separable Fastener". He also created a machine for the new device. Sundback's machinery produced a few hundred feet of fasteners per day. Mathie Burri, a Swiss inventor, improved upon the zipper again in the same year. He added a locking system attached to the last teeth. His version never went into production due to Sundback's patent.
Though the zipper patent wars are in the past, it's a decision we make every time we design a new handbag.
The zippers on our products
You may have noticed that we offer zippers in two main styles — with metal teeth, or nylon teeth. Here are a few reasons we might choose one over the other.
A nylon zipper is made from a coiled monofilament, which is usually nylon. Nylon has some interesting benefits.
- Teeth can be dyed to match the zipper tape and bag body
- They can be smoother running
- They are super lightweight
Unlike nylon zippers, metal zippers are made from metal that is molded in regular intervals to fasten together. We may choose metal zippers for the following reasons:
- gives a more expensive look,
- stronger, more durable, less susceptible to breaking from overstuffing
- not as smooth,
- weighs more
Happy zipping! Looking for more deep dives? We’re here to break it down for you. Read about our workwomanship, our lead-free products, or see a studio tour.