Innovation and ingenuity – How YKK contributes to Circular Fashion

photo of red and blue zippers

The circular economy is slowly becoming a major topic in fashion. A number of brands are engaging with projects to develop products that are compatible with a circular future. This journey begins with increasing the use of recycled material. Not only are they more ubiquitous than fabrics, but also trims and components. Recycled materials can make a significant impact on reducing the environmental footprint of garments. YKK has a variety of products that use recycled materials and low-impact finishing processes such as Natulon(r), snaps and buttons, and AcroPlating (r) snaps. The Natulon(r), which includes Natulon Plus(tm) zippers and AcroPlating(r) snaps and buttons, has seen an increase in its range. Natulon Ocean Sourced(r) uses recycled PET yarn from ocean-bound plastics.

photo of red and blue zippers

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. Vislon(r), Nylon is a zipper made of nylon. Vislon(r), Nylon can be used in monomaterial garments and can be recycled into new materials at the end. This item can be used to make monomaterial sportswear items that are recyclable. This is only one of many products that YKK created 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. The zipper’s moveable parts are more susceptible to breaking because they are frequently handled. YKK developed top-stop zippers that are easy to repair. They also offer the Woven-in Tough Zipper, which allows for the easy replacement of the pull tab in the event of a breakage. The Woven-in Tough zip has a zipper chain. It is more flat than traditional coil chains, and the elements are directly woven into the tape. This allows for better resistance to abrasion as well as preventing zipper wear at the edges.

low-angle photography of tall tress during daytime

One of YKK’s most recent innovations, in collaboration with the Product Cloud platform EON and sportswear brand Houdini, resulted in the TouchLink(tm) zipper puller. The TouchLink(tm) zipper puller is NFC-enabled and allows users to access information about the garment’s care and use. A brand holder using this product will be in a better position to keep a close relationship with their customer and have better control over the product’s life cycle. This can help support new business models like subscription, rental, and recycling.

With all these innovations, YKK is making considerable steps in the scaling up of circularity. We are committed to ensuring high quality products and the right balance between durability, recyclability, and aesthetics. YKK is committed to advancing in this direction by seeking partnerships, collaborations and strong customer relationships to make garment recycling a reality.