Zippers are no longer the overlooked things that close up a jackets or fly—they are getting just as smart as the apparel they serve.
Innovation in zippers for the coming Spring/Summer 2018 season was rampant at Intertextile Shanghai last week, and performance was the prime focus.
In keeping with the still growing athleisure trend and the slackening workplace wardrobe rules, zippers now do their own part to up the performance of a garment. And the biggest in the business, China’s SBS Zipper and Japan’s YKK are leading the charge.
At SBS Zipper, China’s biggest zipper manufacturer, pulls were designed not only to meet the performance of the goods they’re going into, but to avoid the “monotony” of standard zipper pulls.
Silica gel pulls that simulate rope ties, reflective rope in vivid neons for activewear and lanyard pull heads that can be used to attach things, were part of the offering. Other zippers were waterproof and made with waterproof film, and there were removable anti-theft pull heads where the zipper can lock. Some pulls snapped back into a buckle design to achieve the look of a hidden pull head without the hanging effect, and others were made of lace, using a different material weaving for a thin, transparent look.
Color also came into play with geometric print zipper tapes, indigo tape in keeping with high demand for denim and imitation jade pulls, channeling the trend toward natural stones that will be big for SS18.
The industry tends to look to leader YKK for what’s new in zippers, and the company didn’t disappoint.
Waterproof zippers were also big for the company as demand has been on the rise.
“More and more with the sporty garments, customers want more functional products,” a spokesperson for the company said.
Mesh tape zippers that can work as ventilation on the garment and lightweight tape coil zippers that weigh 20 percent less than a standard zipper were also popular for the athletic market and the lighter garments consumers are donning.
On the fashion side of YKK’s focus for the coming season, the company’s Vislon Clear appears so slight, it’s hard to even tell where the zipper is. Then there were inkjet printed zipper tapes ideal for fashion-forward luxury apparel or leather goods. Satin tape zippers and grosgrain tape zippers have seen increased demand in the last year, and high-end fashion lines in the EU have been particularly keen on YKK’s Excella polyester spun tape, which uses longer fibers for a cotton-like soft texture.
Zippers in YKK’s Vislon collection have the appearance of metal, but are made by attaching foil to the zipper for a luxe look that’s much lighter because it’s made of plastic. Pulls are heading higher end too, like those with Swarovski crystals in them.
Lumifine zippers glow in the dark, Metallion zippers are standard coil zippers with metallic colored teeth, and some metal zippers come in dual colors like gold and rose gold, for an elevated look.
And in keeping with the genderless trend, YKK said it’s staying more neutral with its innovations.
“More and more customers ask for not too much ladies style or men’s style, they want in the middle,” the company noted.
What was perhaps among YKK’s most interesting offerings was a patented zipper with an entirely innovative look where the teeth form a chevron pattern like an arrow head.
“It’s totally new and adds a diverse appearance based on the shape of the teeth,” YKK said.