Zipper Definition : Definitions for the Clothing Industry

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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 textiles.

Alternatives that are also frequently used are buttons, 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)
  • to widen an opening:
    • to allow the head to pass the neck opening
    • to allow the hips to pass the waist opening (trousers, skirt)
    • sometimes to allow hands to pass sleeves, and feet the legs of trousers or high boots
    • the zip in the fly is additionally used by men for urination without taking the trousers down
    • to open and close pockets
    • for attaching/detaching a hood and legs of trousers
    • for decoration


    An early device similar to the zip, 'an Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure', was patented in the USA by Elias Howe in 1851, but did not reach the market. Whitcomb Judson patented a similar 'Clasp Locker', for fastening shoes, 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 trousers in the 1920s and 1930s. At this stage, the zip was permanently joined at one end, so could not be used to fasten jackets.

    Zipper Factory Directory

     Metal Zipper Factory
     Nylon Zipper Factory
     Plastic Zippers
     Polyester Zipper Factories
     Zipper Slider / Zipper Pulls
     PVC Tape Zippers
     Zipper Tape / Heat Seal Patches
     Zipper Wholesaler
     Zipper Machines
     History of the Zipper
    The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (  11/02/04 Modified by Apparel Search.

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