Measure Magazine, Vol. VII

SECRETS OF THE FLy By Isabella Parmeter

1964 Howard Kane, a dairy farmer, patents the zip-off convertible pant in the U.S. The style is designed with the working man and warm summer weather in mind,

1968 An amusement park ride called The Zipper is invented by Joseph Brown under Chance Rides. It was named

as the pants can be worn year round. The pants are popular as

athletic wear, and are still produced today by brands such as L.L. Bean, The North Face, and Columbia.

one of the world’s strangest amusement rides by Popular Mechanics. The ride still appears at carnivals today, despite the controversy regarding the series of deaths attached to it.

1969 As the Apollo 11 crew makes history during the first moon landing, they are protected by the Scovill zippers that appear on their uniforms.

1971 The Rolling Stones release their album

“Sticky Fingers,” with album art displaying a close up of a man’s jeans and visible zipper. It is criticized due to the sexually suggestive nature of the photo.

Early 1900s Judson’s patent is used on tobacco pouches and suits for the U.S. Navy. Now often credited with the invention of the zipper, Swedish inventor Gideon Sundback improves upon Judson’s design by creating his “Separable Fastener,” and creates zipper companies Talon in the U.S. and LF (Lightning Fastener) in Canada. 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli debuts a gown with zippers across the front. With many of their husbands away at war, the now-popular side zipper serves as a solution for women to zip up their own clothes.

1973 Author Erica Jong coins the term “zipless fuck,” the previous

1852 Elias Howe Jr. creates the prototype for what we now call the zipper. This “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure” proves to be well ahead of its time, but Howe doesn’t market it very much since he is busy promoting his other invention, the sewing machine. 1893 An American inventor, Whitcomb Judson, presents the modern zipper, the “Clasp Locker,” on shoes during the Chicago World’s Fair. He later develops two companies that become popular in the zipper industry.

1980s Smaller zipper companies start to succumb to the saturation of the zipper market. YKK

phrasing of “no strings attached,” in her novel, “Fear of Flying.”

continues to rise in power, slowly shrinking the company variety within the industry. Inspired by a jacket from the French movie, “Hôtel du Nord,” designer Azzedine Alaïa debuts a dress held together by one continuous zipper in 1989.

1947 Western working women are already accustomed to wearing men’s button up jeans. Popular jeans brand Levi’s adds zippers to women’s jeans to appeal to the East Coast woman.

1934 YKK, the current monopoly dominating the zipper industry, is founded by Tadao Yoshida in Japan.

1940s As spouses return from the war, zippers slide their way to the back of dresses and skirts once again.

1960s Talon is the largest zipper company in the United States, and Optilon of Germany is the largest in Europe. YKK controls 95% of the Japanese zipper industry. Talon decides to keep its business in the U.S., which gives YKK an advantage to expand across the world. YKK makes improvements to the Talon zippers after their patents expire, giving YKK the newest and most efficient zipper in the industry.

1990s Stuffed animals as pulls begin to appear in the zipper market. The invention of larger zipper pulls aids in accessibility for all ages and bodies.

2000s-Today As trends change over the course of months and years, so do zippers. Today, we have zippers that come in a multitude of different shapes and sizes. YKK remains the largest company, producing 45% of the world’s zippers. Talon and Optilon each have 7% and 8% of the zipper market, and the remaining percentage is produced by various Chinese factories.



Volume 7


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