Zip fastenings or zippers have been and continue to be an ever present feature of modern clothing and are an indispensable practical component to a range of different garments. Zip fastenings today play an important part in clothing design choices and come in a vast array of types, materials and colours. In the past though the humble zip fastening was only popular with footwear and tobacco pouch manufacturers in the 1920s, but with the growing popularity of plastics in the 1950s the zip fastening soon found success and was well suited to the boom in synthetic fabrics of the 1960s, think Mary Quant and you will know what I mean. So why are we at James Tailoring reluctant to offer these essential tailoring accessories? We have set up our own rules for our responsible products and only when they meet these essential and responsible parameters can they be added to our growing range of eco-products.
I should point out from the start that I have had experience with most of the manufactures mentioned but can give only a personal opinion of their products and services and the intention is not to endorse a particular brand or disparage a brand in any way. Indeed, the purpose behind this review is to give a genuine appraisal of their responsible products and the availability of them to the consumer.
Albert zips http://www.albertzips.com/ have a long history of producing zips and I recall in the 1990s supplying Boy in Soho with a huge amount of 24” black polyester taped, nickel plated ring pull zippers from the Albert factory in Belgium. This design choice led to widespread demand for similar type zips as other labels and high street suppliers filled their shops with Boy esk garments. This trend lasted for a season or two and then went the way of the shoulder pad. Albert today still produces a nice range of zips but does not yet appear to have a sustainable option.
Coats and their Opti brand have been supplying zips and threads worldwide for over a hundred years and are currently the second biggest manufacturer of zips in the world. Coats do have an Opti S zip in their Eco-Verde range, which is made from recycled Pet polyester but it is unclear where it can be purchased. I would imagine this would be a special order and not a stocked item. They also have a dyable cotton metal zip option from their M range www.coats.com/en/Products/Zips/Opti-M/Opti-M-Cotton which is made from dyable fabric, but again it is unclear where these are stocked or where they are produced and I would imagine these are only available to order in large quantities.
Another world leading zip manufacturer is Ideal zip fastenings www.idealfastener.com they produce recycled zipper tape that is part of their earth friendly range. These can be purchased but they are produced in China to order and take 2-4 weeks. They also add a $350 surcharge to orders under $5000, which limits their general availability.
RIRi are a brand known to me for their quality and provide a premium design product. https://www.riri.com/company/ethics-and-sustainability/sustainable-products/ They do have a metal zip that uses sustainable cotton and a minimum of 50% recycled brass teeth. Another metal version uses recycled polyester for the tape. Availability of these to high end designer consumers is possible but is not yet available to the general public.
YKK are the worlds leading producer of zip fastenings and have several options when it comes to sustainable zip fastenings. Just like some of the other zip manufacturers YKK do a polyester zip made from recycled material. They also produce an organic cotton / metal jean zip https://www.ykkfastening.com/products/search/detail.html?pdid1=Organic+cotton+tape and have recently launched a plant based zip made from sugar cane which comes in a range of yet to be seen colours. YKK appear to have the best selection, but there some points to consider. The rPet polyester zips are only 86% recycled and the organic cotton tape has 7% polyester both added for structural integrity, which on the one hand is not completely perfect, but is an honest admission. The plant based zip is yet to be rolled out globally and appears to be a RnD project at this stage, but has potential.
In summary then we’re not there yet but one day soon… because the times are indeed changing and educated consumers will want sustainable, responsible choices sooner rather than later and those companies will want be part of the fashion revolution.