YKK

Fail-safe construction. (Tim Tomkinson)

The brand of zipper that is likely keeping your britches up at this very moment. Headquartered in Tokyo, 81-year-old YKK (short for Yoshida Kogyo Kabu­shikikaisha, which translates as ­Yoshida Company Limited) was founded by Tadao ­Yoshida, who started making cus­tom zippers to take advantage of breaks and alignment flaws in other products of the time. To maintain Yoshida’s exacting standards, the com­pany kept every stage of the zipper-­making pro­cess in-house, from smelting its own brass to forging the teeth to spinning the thread. (In Japan, YKK even makes the packaging the zippers are ship­ped in.) The company now produces over one million miles of zippers each year; they’re used in everything from fanny packs to expedition tents. “No ­other zipper manufacturer comes close for consistent quality,” says Tara Latham, apparel design manager for Black Diamond.

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