Zippers, who will be the future Supplier?

The now humble zipper came into being in 1851 as a patent for an “Automatic Continuous Clothing Closure”. It would, however, be another 80 years until the zipper would start to become part of our daily lives. Imagine having to rely purely on buttons and rope to hold up your pants; I would be disappointed that such a simple device was never made available to the masses.’

The word zipper came from B.F.Goodrich Company in 1923; the first zipper wasn’t actually used in a garment until 1925. A campaign in the early 1930’s promoted zippers as been good for children’s clothes making it easier for them to dress themselves.

1937 bought the battle of the fly, and it was declared zippers were the winner by French Designers. Esquire eluded the many virtues of the zipper excluded “The Possibility of Unintentional and Embarrassing Disarray”.

The same decade that the zipper was touted as the new fly closure, YKK came into being as San-es Shokai in 1934. The registered trademark YKK launched after WWII in 1946, but it would be some time before YKK would become the brand we know today. Automatic machinery was purchased from the United States in the 1950s allowing the move from handmade to automation improving quality; brand globalisation started early 1960s.

My entry into the apparel industry in the 1990s saw YKK with a monopoly on the zipper market and a reputation that most brands would only dream of. Moving from onshore to offshore manufacturing saw YKK been the standard in zippers due to their global supply channels, with most buying organisations stating YKK only as the preferred zipper supplier. By the start of the new millennium, there were Chinese brands looming but with a bad quality stigma over their heads.

Moving away from YKK and using Chinese brands commenced in 2004 for me, using Intertek to quality the zippers durability, at the time CMZ was the most competitive, lead-time was faster and from test performance #3 and #5 nylon and metal were comparable if not better than YKK. YKK still led the way for invisible performance.

But, this was not for everyone, there were still retailers and brands that trusted decades of performance and quality reputation from YKK amidst product recalls that did occurs due to new entry Chinese zipper brands.

Is today’s situation still the same? Luxury brands still use YKK as a marketing point and as proof of a quality product but is it the real situation.

Looking to reassess the preferred zipper supplier to improve lead-time, as zipper supply was the number one cause of delivery failure, durability and strength tests were re-conducted on brands that were considered price competitive.

Here are the results of the tests and the price comparison as a percentage of YKK price as the benchmark.

Durability 2500 cycles test, all zipper types and brands passed.

Zipper Type #3 Nylon Closed End

Brand – YKK                Result – 589N – Rank #4        Price Benchmark

Brand – YBS                Result – 710N – Rank #2        Price Less 18%

Brand – CMZ               Result – 822N – Rank #1        Price Less 17%

Brand – DIS                 Result – 659N – Rank #3        Price Less 22%

Zipper Type #5 Metal Closed End

Brand – YKK                Result – 702N – Rank #4        Price Benchmark

Brand – YBS                Result – 790N – Rank #2        Price Less 35%

Brand – CMZ               Result – 776N – Rank #3        Price Less 3%

Brand – DIS                 Result – 1009N–Rank #1        Price Less 4%

Zipper Invisible

Brand – YKK                Result – 478N – Rank #4        Price Benchmark

Brand – YBS                Result – 567N – Rank #2        Price Less 33%

Brand – CMZ               Result – 596N – Rank #1        Price Less 75%

Brand – DIS                 Result – 556N – Rank #3        Price Less 68%

**Rank for each category is based on highest strength rating in Newton (N)

CMZ was the preferred choice based on durability, strength, chemical compliance (not stated). The nullifier was sampling, based on the substantial salesman sampling demand due to many brands and market distribution; YKK remained the overall best service option service.

Comparing price, on volume there is definitely a price advantage, but where the business model is low volume high variety fast fashion, YKK is more competitive on surcharges. Lead-time challenges can be overcome through improved planning and supply agreements.

While YKK is not the icon they once were, as the global landscape becomes more competitive there are still advantages to YKK through service and perceived value. There is, however, competition knocking on YKK’s door, this is nothing new.

ID Global Concepts is a leader in sourcing management across fabric, accessories, and apparel. We add value to client’s operations through consultancy or management contract to ensure the business has the best practice quality systems that are the right fit for your business, customer and meet your value expectations.

Below are the retailer’s ID Global Concepts have delivered quality apparel and accessories to over the last ten years;

Macy’s, Urban, Sears, Marks & Spencer, Myer, Kmart US & Kmart Australia, Dunnes Stores, Debenhams Monsoon Accessorize, Asos, Witchery, Brown Sugar, RM Williams, Coles, Chloe, John Lewis, Disney, Next, Firetrap, Lonsdale, Postie, ASDA, Harris Scarf, River Island, Tesco, Woolworths, Walmart, Glassons, Babies’R’Us, New Look, Target US & Australia, Primark, David Jones, Best & Less, Sophie, Yakka, Top Shop, BHS, Burlington, BigW, Oasis, JayJays, Blue Illusion, Driza-Bone, Just Jeans, Volcom, House of Fraser, Pumpkin Patch, Suzanne Grae, Pelaco, Laura Ashley, Sportsgirl, Ted Baker, Truetex, TableEight, French Connection

If you would like to learn more or wish to discuss other supply chain opportunities, please email us at


%d bloggers like this: