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Selecting The Right Zippers For Your Product

Zippers, invented in 1913, are an important component to garments. It may seem like a small detail in the grand scheme of things, but in truth, it keeps your client’s clothes on (well, when you put it that way…) and can make or break your garment (literally). Sew, it’s crucial to know the multitude of options out there and to be able to specify the most appropriate one for your design.

QUALITY: There are many different styles and sizes, which can be categorized into four broad categories:

1. Metal

2. Plastic

3. Nylon (coil)

4. Invisible (Technically still a nylon coil zipper, but gets a special mention due to its unique design and functionality)

Each differs in quality, function, and suitability, so choose wisely!

FUNCTION: Zippers can be non-separating or separating. Non-separating, also known as closed-end, is linked at the end and when fully unzipped does not come apart (such as a zipper on a backpack closure). Oppositely, a separating zip can come apart, separating two elements of a garment (think zip-off pant legs like the ones your dad wears but probably shouldn’t 😉).

GAUGE: This is the size of the width of the chain teeth. Here are some things to keep in mind on the subject of zipper gauges:

  1. While working with zippers, you’ll hear the terms #3, #4, #5, etc. This is a direct reference to the zipper gauge (these numbers determine the size – the higher the number, the thicker the teeth!)

  2. #3 or #5 gauges are most common, but gauges range up to #20 (for those who want that thick zipper)

SIZE: How can you determine the size of a zipper? It’s actually super simple.

Golden Nugget: Just take a closer look at the zipper pull. The zipper size has a number located at the zipper pull of your desired sample that can be added to your tech pack (nifty!).


  1. You can order readily available stock (ensure you’re getting the correct lengths for all your sizes)

  2. To ensure that zippers match the body of a fabric- order dyed to match (DTM). Order times can be lengthy (up to 45 days), especially when they’re dyed to match or a custom length, so be patient and order ahead!


  1. YKK is the most reputable brand for zippers, known for its unrivaled quality, and provides over HALF of the zippers around the world – that’s over 7 billion (yes, billion) YKK zippers manufactured each year! (Check the zipper of whatever you’re wearing – chances are, it says YKK)

  1. Advertise your brand’s unique identity and customize your garment’s zipper by adding a custom zipper pull. (ribbon or brand name monogram)

  1. Invisible zippers aren’t as strong in a stress point as other zippers are, so use them for parts of a garment that require less strength, such as the half-zip on the neck of a sweater

  1. To save you time, choose from the zipper lengths that are in stock with the help of your patternmaker – they know best!

Zippers are an integral part to the apparel product development process. Keep your target market in mind when choosing your zipper, as well as your garment type, and what the zipper is actually connecting.

Was choosing your zipper a fun process for you, or a totally epic fail? Do you have any funny stories about selecting zippers for your garment?? Tell us – we’d love to hear!

Looking to manufacture your products overseas? We can help you! Check our manufacturing services here.

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