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What does YKK mean on zippers?

by Richard Schokker

What does the name YKK on zippers mean?

YKK’ stands for: Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha. The YKK Group is a Japanese group of manufacturing companies. As the world's largest zipper manufacturer, YKK Group is most famous for making zippers. YKK is the global leader in zippers. They produce over 7 billion of zippers and sell these worldwide.
YKK is also the leader in quality control and manufacturing standards. YKK’s zippers and fastening solutions are produced by a patented technology to ensure superior performance and longevity. Through their diverse vertical manufacturing systems, YKK produces best in class products you can always trust to make an invaluable difference in customers' lives.

The zipper is one of those inventions—along with the bicycle—that seems as though it should have occurred much earlier in history. How complicated could it be to assemble two wheels, two pedals, and a chain? Or to align two jagged strips of metal teeth and shuffle them together? There is no complicated chemistry here, no harnessing of invisible wavelengths. And yet the modern bicycle didn’t appear until the late 1800s, and the zipper didn’t really become the zipper until 1917 (when it was patented by a Swedish immigrant in Hoboken). The precision necessary to craft a working bicycle chain or a smoothly meshing zipper was simply beyond us for all those prior millennia.

ESVO has chosen for the AAA-quality zippers of YKK. Please click here for our range of zip fasteners of YKK.

More about the zippers of YKK

More confounding still: Now that the zipper has been around for nearly a century, you’d think that something so simple might have been perfected—becoming a 100 percent reliable commodity. But that hasn’t happened. There are still tons of faulty zippers out there. Teeth that break. Pulls that pop. Herky-jerky sliding and irreparable lockups.

One zipper gone wrong can render an entire garment unwearable. Thus consistent quality is a must for reputable fashion brands. For decades now, apparel makers who can’t afford to gamble on cut-rate fasteners have overwhelmingly turned to a single manufacturer. YKK, the Japanese zipper behemoth, makes roughly half of all the zippers on earth. More than 7 billion zippers each year. Those three capital letters are ubiquitous—no doubt you’ve seen them while zipping up your windbreaker or unzipping someone else’s jeans. How did YKK come to dominate this quirky corner of industry?

Founded by Tadao Yoshida in Tokyo in 1934, YKK stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha (which roughly translates as Yoshida Company Limited). The young Yoshida was a tinkerer who designed his own customized zipper machines when he wasn’t satisfied with existing production methods. One by one, Yoshida brought basically every stage of the zipper making process in house: A 1998 Los Angeles Times story reported that YKK “smelts its own brass, concocts its own polyester, spins and twists its own thread, weaves and color-dyes cloth for its zipper tapes, forges and molds its scooped zipper teeth …” and on and on. YKK even makes the boxes it ships its zippers in. And of course it still manufactures its own zipper-manufacturing machines—which it carefully hides from the eyes of competitors. With every tiny detail handled under YKK’s roof, outside variables get eliminated and the company can assure consistent quality and speed of production. (When the Japanese earthquake hit last year many supply chains were shredded, but YKK kept rolling along.)
Yoshida also preached a management principle he termed “The Cycle of Goodness.” It holds that “no one prospers unless he renders benefit to others.” In practice, this boiled down to Yoshida striving to produce ever-higher quality with ever-lower costs. It seems intuitive, but it’s far from easy to do. And in the end, the secret to YKK’s success is equally uncomplicated but equally impressive: YKK makes incredibly dependable zippers, ships them on time without fail, offers a wide range of colors, materials, and styles, and never gets badly undercut on price. The feeling in the apparel industry is that you can’t go wrong with YKK.


ESVO has chosen for the AAA-quality zippers of YKK. Please click here for our range of zip fasteners of YKK.


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