Know It All: Why Do So Many Zippers Bear the Letters ‘YKK’?

Why do zippers say ykk

Whether you were zipping up your jacket, fly, or duffel bag, you've frequently spotted these three letters and wondered about their meaning. Wonder no more.

By Justin Brown

Everybody has that moment when they realize they don’t know about something that they should probably know about. Whether it’s history, language, science, or cultural phenomena, you’ve felt the stinging personal embarrassment of a moment wherein you realize there’s some common knowledge that isn’t so common. Don’t feel bad; nobody knows everything. Nobody, that is, except me and my sidekick, The Internet!

Somewhere in the world, a confused soul begs the question…

Why do so many zippers bear the letters ‘YKK’?

Admit it, you’ve noticed this. Whether you were zipping up your jacket, your fly, your duffel bag, the door of a tent, that leather document portfolio, or the removable upholstery on your couch cushions, you noticed these three extremely common three little letters and wondered “what’s that all about?”.

In short: Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha was a zipper company founded in Japan, in 1934. Their name, as you may have noticed, is a little on the lengthy side and so, they chose to merely stamp the initials of their company’s name on all their products.

All right, so, big deal. There are a lot of very prominent companies in certain industries – that doesn’t mean that every computer is a Dell or every car is a Chevrolet. Why and how is YKK so widespread?

YKK Co. is now comprised of nearly 100 smaller companies acquired in the hugely successful years since their formation. They currently oversee around 200 facilities in 52 nations, worldwide – their factory in Macon, Georgia alone produces seven million zippers per day. They not only make every part of the zipper, but also the rigid fabric on either side of the zipper and the dye for that fabric. The most incredible thing about this company, though, is that they actually manufacture the machines that make zippers (for – you guessed it – eventual use in other YKK factories). Seriously.

The company also has moved into aluminum building products (a section of their product line that now accounts for over half of the YKK’s worldwide sales).

Now you know.

Justin Brown currently resides in Virginia, where he does his best to stoke the fires of his nerdly passion for writing, filmmaking, photography, art, and design. You can keep tabs on him at his blog, esteban was eaten!