Object MattersA zip through history.

Object MattersA zip through history.

It took almost 100 years after the introduction of the zipper for the contraption’s capabilities and primary purpose to mesh. 

Perhaps early zippers suffered from poor branding: Neither the Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure created by Elias Howe in 1851, nor the Clasp Locker or Unlocker for Shoes unveiled at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair had quite the same catchy ring about them as the onomatopoeic “zipper.” They were also poorly designed—early iterations tore clothing fabric and popped open at inopportune times.

The design of the zipper as we know it came about in the early 1900s, but was still shunned by society as a fleeting curiosity that promoted a swift state of undress. It was relegated to fastening tobacco pouches and money belts for World War I sailors, whose un...

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