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The zipper: An invention overlooked yet essential

Zipper on a leather jacket.
by Jonathan Fife/Getty Images
Moment RF

We use zippers all the time, whether on clothes, shoes, bags, tents … the list goes on.

Zippers keep our belongings secure, they keep us warm, they help keep out the elements, and they make it easier to get dressed.

This hour: the zipper — its history and significance, its role in fashion … and why so many zippers say “YKK.”


  • Robert Friedel: Professor emeritus of history at the University of Maryland and author of Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty, among other books
  • Emma McClendon: Fashion historian, curator, and author
  • Jim Reed: President of YKK Corporation of America

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Colin McEnroe and Dylan Reyes contributed to this show.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.
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