A zipper (zip fastener
or zip in British English) is a device
for temporarily joining two edges of
fabric together. It is
widely used in
clothing, bags and suitcases,
purses, tents, sleeping
bags and other
that are also frequently used are
Velcro, laces, buckles,
and safety pins.
The bulk of a zip consists of two strips of fabric tape,
one permanently fixed to each of the two flaps to be joined,
and each carrying tens or hundreds of specially shaped metal
or plastic teeth. Another part, the slider, which is operated
by hand, rides up and down the two sets of teeth. Inside
the slider is a Y-shaped channel that pushes the opposing
sets of teeth together or apart, depending on the slider's
direction of travel. The friction of the slider against
the teeth causes a characteristic buzzing noise which is
probably the origin of the name zip.
Some zips have slides on both sides, allowing one to
vary not only the size, but also the position of the opening.
Applications of zips in clothing:
to connect and disconnect the left and right front
side (usually fitted vertically so that pushing the
slider from top to bottom opens it, and pushing it from
bottom to top closes it)
for attaching/detaching a hood
and legs of trousers
An early device similar to the zip,
'an Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure',
was patented in the
by Elias Howe in 1851, but did not reach
the market. Whitcomb Judson patented
a similar 'Clasp Locker', for fastening
in 1891 or 1893, and marketed the invention
through his 'Universal Fastener' company.
These two designs used hooks and eyes.
The design used today, based on interlocking
teeth, was invented by an employee of
Judson's, Swedish scientist Gideon Sundback,
in 1913 as the 'Hookless Fastener' and
patented in 1917 as the 'Separable Fastener'.
The B. F. Goodrich Company coined the
name 'Zipper' in 1923, and used the
device on tobacco pouches and boots.
The zip became popular for children's
clothing and men's
in the 1920s and 1930s. At this stage,
the zip was permanently joined at one
end, so could not be used to fasten