Travel the world

Just ZIP it!

Zippers - An animated demonstration of how a zipper works.My suitcase.

My backpack.

My pants.

Zip, Zip, Zip.

They all share in common the magic of a little thing known as a zipper.

As I struggled this morning to cram three pillows and the extra clothes I’ve purchased for our new “working people” roles here in Auckland, New Zealand, I found myself marvelling at the wonders of the zipper.

It’s (probably) obvious (to most people) how a zipper works, but I am immensely grateful for the zipper’s ability to hold my life together as we travel around the world.

And so, in sincere appreciation for this little device, I thought I’d share with you some of the history, finer points, and uses of zippers.

Did you know:

In British English, a zipper is known simply as a zip (or occasionally a zip fastener)

The same guy who invented the sewing machine (with MASSIVE success) first patented the idea of a zipper in the 1850’s. (He didn’t market it, presumably because he was busy with the sewing machine.)

Zippers were first thought of as a way for closing up your boots easier than laces.

A guy named Gideon Sundback, who was born in Sweden and trained as an electrical engineer married the daughter of (and worked for) the owner of the Universal Fastener Company. When Sundback wife’s died in 1911, he became completely devoted to his work and designed the modern zipper by December 1913.

The popular “zipper” name came from the B. F. Goodrich Company when they used it to describe the fastening device in marketing for a kind of rubber boots they were selling.

The two chief uses of the zipper in its early years were for boots and tobacco pouches.

In the 1920’s, Clergy in many parts of the UK and USA were originally opposed to zippers.  They thought that because zippers allowed people to take off their clothes too quickly, the widespread use of zippers would promote illicit sexual activity (which came first?  The activity or the zipper?)

Children's ad for zippers from 1932It wasn’t until the 1930’s that zippers were heavily used in clothing, and the marketing campaigns of the time shared that zippers were a good way to promote self-reliance and independence for children.  Zippers would make it easier/quicker for children to dress themselves.

Types of zippers

  • Coil zippers are made of polyester coil and are thus also known as polyester zippers. Nylon was formerly used and though only polyester is used now, the type is still known as a nylon zipper.
  • “Invisible zippers” have teeth that are behind the tape. The tape’s color matches the garment’s, as does the slider, so that, except the slider, the zipper is “invisible”. This kind of a zipper is common in skirts and dresses.
  • Metallic zippers are the classic zipper type, found mostly in jeans today. Metal zippers are made in brass, aluminium, and nickel.
  • Headphones that zip up.Plastic-molded zippers are identical to metallic zippers, except that the teeth are plastic instead of metal. Metal zippers can be painted to match the surrounding fabric; plastic zippers can be made in any color of plastic.
  • Closed-ended zippers are closed at both ends; they are often used in baggage.

Next time you haphazardly slide up a zipper and get something stuck in it (hopefully not in the  “Something About Mary” way), I hope that reading this post will help you appreciate the 150 years of history which make that zipper possible for you.

7 thoughts on “Just ZIP it!

    1. strive4impact Post author

      Dear —–??

      I will again be looking at the products we promote from within to see how we can better be of service to the people coming to us for information. Thank-you for letting me know that there are potential issues with a product we’ve promoted to people there.

      In response to your criticism and name calling:

      Assuming the worst about other people is unhealthy.

      I did grow up in a passive solar home, designed by my dad, and built by my mom and dad (and later my brothers, my uncle, and myself). If you don’t believe that, look around on, where pictures of the house are posted. Or come to Colorado, and if you ask nicely, my parents might just give you a tour.

      In response to your accusation of me being deceptive:

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      I have given you multiple ways to contact me.

      You, on the other hand…

      You have posted one comment on our website (which is, by the way, the first time I have ever heard from you). You are accusing me of being a liar, claiming I’ve deceived you, and comparing me to a Nigerian scammer (someone who truly does want to harm and damage others through theft and deception).

      In posting one comment on our site, you’ve not even given me your name, and I don’t know if your email address is real or not.

      For me it begs the question… Based on those facts, who is being deceptive in this situation?

      Calling people names like liar and deceiver (especially people whom you don’t know and haven’t met) is generally poor.

      If I have done something to wrong you, please let me know what I’ve done and offer me the basic human decency of giving me a chance to fix whatever it is, before resulting to insults and name-calling.

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      1. Holstein9

        I never ordered anything from you. I’m doing research on these “Build your own solar panel” scams and found your website. If you feel that it’s OK to sell someone these guides that make outrageous (and untrue) claims then good luck with that. A sucker is born every minute and you’re profiting from that. At the bottom of EVERY PAGE of your website is a link that says ‘How to Build Solar Panels’ and directs to…

        Now read this –>

  1. Lisa

    I think zippers are most useful and enjoyed hearing the history! Then I saw your little Popularity thing at the end and got side-tracked into learning about plug-ins and then somebody named Alex in Denver and all his various sites. Gotta stay focused :~O Love Mom

  2. Sue Zamora

    Having spent a lot of time in my former career (clothing alterations) replacing zippers, I’d just like to add the following:
    -Appreciate your jean and pant zippers. When you think it’s an easy fix when the stitching at the bottom is stressed and somehow comes out etc. it is not an easy fix. The entire zipper has to be taken out and replaced, which is a relatively major job.
    Although “Invisible zippers” look nice in women’s clothing, they break very easily, again requiring complete replacement. BEWARE, espcially in formal attire and especially, especially in wedding gowns. They have been know to malfunction or “pull-apart” at some very embarressing moments

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