YKK previews app-controlled zipper

Just in time for the holiday season, Japanese zipper manufacture YKK has released a video touting its research in remote zipper technology, tagline “Happy Fastening.”


 


YKK dropped the short film on its Youtube channel earlier this month as a teaser about its research into the zipper of the future, what it calls the “auto fastener.” The 1.5-minute-long clip entitled Auto Camping features a Japanese couple and their young boy on a campground in a wintery setting with references to Christmas. The boy falls asleep on a raised tent platform, but instead of climbing the ladder to tuck him in, the parents use their cell phone to remotely zip up the tent.

YKK is somewhat of an ubiquitous enigma in the fashion world, that three-letter acronym stamped on the zippers of a whole range of brands, from luxury to fast fashion retailers. YKK stand for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha, the company named after its founder Tadao Yoshida, who created the business in 1934.

While it was not the first zipper manufacturer, YKK is meanwhile one of the most respected and largest suppliers to the fashion industry. Media reports estimate the company produces over 7 billion zippers per year.

Over the years, Yoshida systematically brought in every production phase of zipper manufacturing to control quality at every step. That strategy has worked. Designers often praise YKK, saying that a faulty zipper can ruin a consumer’s experience with a piece of clothing, and that cutting corners on the price of zippers can easily end badly.

Increasing competition from Chinese manufacturers has lately put pressure on YKK, leading it to announce earlier this year a plan to invest in the entry-level market. According to Japanese news group Nikkei, the group currently accounts for 40% of worldwide zip sales in value, but only 20% in volume, since its range relies heavily on quality and innovation.

Whether YKK’s auto fastener with remote technology could have applications for apparel is hard to imagine. Zipping up jeans with a cell phone does seem slightly far fetched. But as high-tech smartwear nudges its way into the market, one might soon be seeing auto fasteners for say sportswear with hard-to-reach closings or maybe that dress with the unreachable back zipper.

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