As talks around the circular economy are gradually taking center stage, circularity in fashion has become one of the hottest topics in the industry.
A number of brands are engaging with projects to develop products that are compatible with a circular future. The first step in this journey is to increase the use of recycled materials extending their ubiquity beyond just fabrics and into trims components as well. As zippers and buttons are essential parts of garments and accessories, the use of recycled materials in these trims can have a meaningful impact in reducing the environmental footprint of garments that use them. YKK offers a range of products that utilize recycled materials and low impact finishing processes, such as Natulon® zippers and AcroPlating® snaps and buttons. More recently, the Natulon® line-up was expanded with the introduction of Natulon Plus™, in which the whole zipper chain is made of recycled materials, as well as Natulon® Ocean Sourced®, which utilizes recycled PET yarn made from ocean-bound plastics.
As trims pose some of the biggest challenges to garment recycling, YKK has been working to develop a host of solutions to reduce these impediments. YKK has developed Vislon® Nylon, a zipper whose components including the slider are made with nylon. Vislon® Nylon is designed for use in monomaterial garments that can be recycled at the end of their life into new materials. This item can be used in certain monomaterial sportswear products to help in automated recycling processes. This is just one example of the products that YKK has created specifically for circularity.
However, circularity is a much broader topic than just recyclability, and can encompass other issues such as durability, repairability, traceability and even connectivity.
As a broken zipper can potentially render an entire garment unusable, it is essential to facilitate repairs in order to extend the garment’s life. As the moveable parts of a zipper are regularly handled, they are also more prone to breakage. For that reason, YKK has developed easy repair top stop zippers designed to facilitate the replacement of the whole slider, as well as the Woven-in Tough Zipper for luggage applications, which allow for easy replacement of the pull tab in case of breakage. Another feature of the Woven-in Tough zipper is the construction of zipper chain. It is flatter than conventional coil chains and has the elements directly woven into the tape without the need of a sewing thread, achieving better resistance to abrasion and preventing zipper wear out on the edges of the suitcase.
One of YKK’s most recent innovations, in collaboration with the Product Cloud platform EON and sportswear brand Houdini, resulted in the TouchLink™ zipper puller. It is an NFC-enabled puller which allows the user to acquire information on use and care of the garment. Moreover, a brand holder who uses this product will be able to maintain a closer relationship with the customer and better oversight of the life cycle of the product, which can support new business models such as resale, rental, subscription and recycling.
With all these innovations, YKK is making considerable steps in the scaling up of circularity. We strive to ensure the high quality of our products and the balance between durability and recyclability of the materials. To advance in that direction, YKK is actively pursuing collaborations, partnerships and strong customer relationships to make garment circularity a reality.