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YKK’s London Showroom Doubles as an Incubator for Creativity and Innovation

In a crowded and homogenised space like the jeanswear category, where denim brands have to do more than exist to stand out, trims are gaining greater importance.

YKK, the largest zipper manufacturer, is sparking creativity through its London showroom. Located in the heart of Shoreditch, London’s hub for creative agencies, street art and vintage fare, the first-of-its-kind showroom connects the company to designers, freelancers and students. In short, the showroom makes YKK more accessible and easier to meet.

There, the world’s largest zipper manufacturer shares its expertise with designers, exhibits seasonal collections and makes available on-site components that customers can immediately buy to suit their small production needs. It is also a meeting point for YKK and designers to develop new concepts.

“We have been working with a great variety of creative individuals since our opening in 2015: designers, singers, museums, fashion students, artists and fashion schools,” YKK said. “Every request is very unique and we have almost never produced the same product twice. The most interesting requests are the ones that challenge us and make us re-think the design process.”

The showroom also supports fashion students by facilitating workshops, offering Snap & Button attaching services and access to free deadstock samples collected from its U.K. and European divisions—all with the aim to better prepare students for the business of fashion.

The largest zipper manufacturer YKK is sparking creativity through its London showroom.
YKK zippers Angela Velasquez

“The workshop was built to share our knowledge about fastening products with young designers,” YKK said, “and to provide them with all the information and guidelines they might need to understand the basic principles of placing an order for fasteners, to show the different types of fasteners and the importance of the fastener in clothing design.”

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Additionally, YKK offers a helping hand to up-and-coming brands by allowing them to host events in the showroom at no cost and dedicates its windows to artwork made using YKK products.

Designed by architect and fashion designer Kei Kagami, a fellow classmate of Alexander McQueen at Saint Martins College, the showroom combines Japanese precision with British fashion.

The design was inspired by YKK’s industrial background, evident in the space’s use of metal fixtures and moving parts. Presentation cases are suspended from the ceiling and metal shutters roll up to unveil the brand’s latest concepts.

The largest zipper manufacturer YKK is sparking creativity through its London showroom.
YKK’s London Showroom Angela Velasquez

When Rivet visited the showroom in December, YKK was showcasing how it can recreate the rusted look of vintage iron balls by baking metal instead of using chemicals, and emphasized natural stainless steel, brass and copper components over decorative resource-consuming finishes.

Like the rest of the denim supply chain, sustainable alternatives are becoming a larger part of YKK’s focus and portfolio. The company is continuing to work on new process innovations and materials to enlarge its sustainable item range, to meet its customer needs and provide sustainable solutions.

Here, the company shares the steps it is taking to reduce the impact of trims, and new products that reflect that mission.

Rivet: What’s new for the season?

YKK: Our main focus as we create our new collections is on seasonal trends, new materials and changing lifestyles. For that, the product variety is pretty wide although jeans buttons are in the majority.

Seeing this, the concept of our latest collection emphasizes denim. We have prepared it by blending the trends of last season with the new methods of our design aesthetics. When we prepared this collection, which includes mostly denim accessories, the only limitation was our imagination. By adding snaps, sewing accessories, natural materials and eco finishes, we enriched our collection more than ever before.

We focused on copper and silver plating with both clear and oxide versions to catch seasonal tones. We gave priority to environmentally friendly finishes. Additionally, we chose large-sized sew-on buttons with shiny vibrant colors to reference synthetic beauty. We also had inspiration from composite finishes and have used gritty paintings.

Rivet: How is YKK addressing sustainability?

YKK: As one of the leading manufacturers of fastening products, YKK cares deeply about our environmental footprint. That’s why our product line includes ‘small parts’ with a big impact on sustainability, such as zippers made from both recycled and plant-derived materials. Based on our philosophy, Cycle of Goodness, we try to make products that are beneficial for both people and the Earth. That is the reason why the production of our Sustainable Collection uses less chemicals, water, electricity and thermal energy. We have incorporated natural materials including coconut and wood, all designed with eco-friendly colors.

Rivet: What are some notable new products or trends specifically for denim?

YKK: It has to be sustainability. Our Sustainable Collection includes the Natulon zipper range, a zipper recycled from [plastic] bottles and other post-consumer materials. This environmentally friendly zipper is processed to facilitate further recycling, ideal for customers who want to market their product as recyclable. The Natulon range can be produced for metal, coil in sizes 3 and 5, and our Vislon range, available in sizes 3, 5 and 8. We also have a lyocell fiber zipper and zippers with organic cotton tape.

The collection also includes our environmentally friendly Snap & Button product line, which is manufactured without any toxic chemicals. The production of this ethical range commendably uses 66 percent fewer chemicals, 89 percent less water and 46 percent less electricity, promoting environmentally friendly production. The Snap & Button eco-friendly range is available in four color groups: raw material, colored lacquer, oxide and transparent lacquer. Our Screw Tack is an environmental friendly product that can be attached and detached from a garment during the recycling process, and also it can be used again and again.