Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hookless Fasteners - Identifying Vintage by the Zipper

Even with smart phones, iPads, and all other technology we have at the tips of our fingers at any given moment, no one wants to stand in the middle of a thrift store trying to figure out if a piece of clothing is vintage and what year it was made.

That's why one must train their eye to vintage, and with the quickest of glances be able to tell if it is or not.  You're probably thinking, "Quickest of glances? Yeah, right," but really, I'm being serious.

Is it metal or is it nylon?

If it's metal, you most likely have a vintage garment.  If it's nylon, you might have to do a bit more researching (but there's other, easier ways to tell before having to break out the iPad, don't worry!).

A little history on the zipper.  The earliest version of the zipper was invented in 1851 by Elias Howe. For over 60 years after, the zipper was basically a flop.  They just couldn't get it right. Enter Otto Frederick Gideon Sundback.  He finally got the idea right enough to be able to market it, and in the 1920s, the B. F.Goodrich Company gave it the name "zipper," and it began to be used in the production of boots and other industrial things. Finally, due to a children's campaign and designers finally putting them into clothing, the zipper began to gain fame in the 1930s, and by the end of the decade surpassed buttons and hooks as the most popular and preferred method of fastening, even today.

In the 1960s, the company YKK invented the DuPont nylon zipper, a lighter alternative to the commonly used metal zipper of the time.  It's light-weight, more flexible design made it perfect for the synthetic materials that would begin to become prevelant in the late 60s to 70s.

It can be generally concluded that metal zippers can be found in clothing from the late 30s to the 60s, and nylon from the 60s to present.

Obviously, there are always exceptions to the rule, such as if a metal zipper was replaced by a nylon one or vice versa, so it is always important to take in other apsects of the garment, such as cut, construction, and tag.

But just a glance, that's all it can take to conclude a piece's general construction age.

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