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The zipper: An invention overlooked yet essential

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

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 is all about the zipper. We’ll learn about its history and significance, plus the role of zippers 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.'
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