Every Time You Zip Up Your Pants, Mr. Yoshida Smiles, Creepily The origin of your YKK zippers

    Have you ever noticed how almost every zipper you own has “YKK” written on it? I didn’t, until I read this post about it. I did a little more research, and found out there’s quite a story behind YKK and their “circle of goodness.” Just remember, every time you zip up imagine Mr. Yoshida standing there watching, double thumbs up with approval.

    What Does YKK Stand For?

    three examples of YKK zippers

    YKK stands for “Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha” (also known as Yoshida Industries Limited), which is the #1 zipper manufacturing company in the world, making 90% of all zippers from 206 factories in 52 countries. Who knew the zipper industry was so big. Makes you wonder what the “button up pants” industry thinks of YKK. Probably not good things.

    The Vibrant History of YKK

    Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha has been around for a while, though they didn’t come up with the idea for a zipper, which happened in 1891. YKK came about in 1934, two years after Tadao Yoshida started working at a failed zipper company in Japan. Apparently, Yoshida was “impressed with the product” (people are impressed by zippers?) and went on to start his own zipper company after bankruptcy closed the Zipper co. he was working for at the time.

    In 1945, YKK hit a setback, when their factory was burned down (I guess someone forgot to unzip the oven?), but they bounced back and bought a US company that helped automate zipper manufacturing. Can you imagine what it was like doing the zippering by hand? From there, YKK went on to bigger and better things, moving to Tokyo, expanding overseas, and basically dominating the zipper industry… an industry they dominated so much that they got in trouble for zipper price fixing. I guess Europe didn’t have much to do until Microsoft came along.

    According to Wikipedia, while they made incredible innovations to the zipper, they also worked on some non-zipper (gasp) products. I’ve bolded the particularly amazing features:

    • Zippers
      • YZip: Metal zipper, extra durable for jeans
      • Ever Bright: Metal zipper, polished for visual appeal (oh yeah!) and corrosion resistance
      • Excella: Metal zipper, polished and plated for visual appeal, also in different colors (Purple? Pink? Oh yeah!)
      • Conceal: Plastic coil zipper with no visible teeth (nom nom nom)
      • Vislon: Rugged plastic zipper
    • Hook and loop products, more commonly known under the Velcro brand name of a competitor.
    • Plastic parts, including various types of clips and buckles
    • Snaps and buttons, including snap fasteners and jeans buttons

    To make a long story short, YKK is “teh sexy” of zipper companies. When you think Japanese companies, things like Sony, Nintendo, Toshiba, Honda, and Toyota come to mind… but never YKK. Next time you zip up, make sure to thank Mr. Yoshida for the bladed death teeth next to your private parts. If they’re colored, you should give double thanks. Z-Z-Zip!