Here’s Why Most Zippers Have an Outer Ring

Believe it or not, it's entirely functional.

Here’s Why Most Zippers Have an Outer Ring

Believe it or not, it's entirely functional.

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If you’re among the individuals who purchased the 450 million pairs of blue jeans sold in America this year, zipping up is part of your everyday routine. However, despite the ubiquity of this design element, since its invention in 1851, many of us don’t know a whole lot about why zippers look the way that they do.

Now, the rationale behind the actual zip-zip part is simple: zippers make it fast and easy to get in and out of clothing. Better yet, the interlocking teeth in a zipper, when run through a zipper pull, are a strong means of holding clothing together, without taking up the space (or having the aesthetic pitfalls) that bulky buttons do. Zippers also use less metal than your average button, meaning that denim manufacturers who swapped button-fly designs for zip-close ones could enjoy some extra savings on the production side, too.

But what about the zipper pull itself?

That tiny hole in the tab on the end of your zipper pull has more than just an aesthetic function. If you’ve ever had a stuck zipper, you’re probably well aware of the frustration of trying to grip that tiny piece of metal, only to have it slip out of your fingers time and time again. That’s where the hole in your zipper comes in.

If you need a bit more force with which to pull your zipper, you can thread a string or thin piece of fabric through the hole. Give that string a tug and, thanks to physics, voila! Your zipper becomes unstuck—and you haven’t sacrificed the skin on your fingertips to do it.

Even cooler, if you press that metal ring flat against your zipper’s metal teeth, it locks in place, meaning you won’t ever accidentally be caught in a rare X-Y-Z (for the uninitiated, that stands for “examine your zipper,” as in: it’s down) situation again.

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