This Is What Those Letters On Your Zipper Mean

Cracking the YKK code.

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Whether it's on your jeans or your jacket, odds are you use a zipper on a daily basis. But there's one detail on that zipper that even the biggest clotheshorses might have missed.

Look closely and you'll likely notice three letters on your zipper: YKK. In fact, more than half of the zippers produced globally bear that exact combination of letters. So, what's the meaning behind them, anyway?

The answer is very simple: It's the insignia of the world's most prolific zipper manufacturer.

YKK is the mark of YKK Group, once known as Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushikikaisha, or the Yoshida Manufacturing Corporation, after its founder, Tadao Yoshida. The company, founded in Tokyo in 1934, used this name from 1945 until 1994, when it became simply YKK Group. YKK, which specializes in architectural components and fasteners—like zippers, hook-and-eye closures, snaps, buttons, clips, and buckles—now creates its products on a global scale, with 109 production facilities in 71 countries around the world. Today, YKK makes more than seven million zippers a year.

So, why are YKK's products the gold standard in the zipper world? The company's insistence on unfaltering quality has made them a hit among designers worldwide. YKK goes so far as to oversee virtually every aspect of the production process, leaving nothing to chance.

According to the L.A. Times, YKK makes every part of its zippers in-house, from the thread, to the teeth, to the boxes the zippers are ultimately shipped in. It's that attention to detail that has allowed them to essentially have a zipper monopoly. "A zipper will never make a garment," designer Trina Turk told Slate, noting she only uses YKK zippers. "But it can break a garment." And for more amazing knowledge you can drop on you friends, see these 50 Amazing Historical Facts You Never Knew.

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