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The Secret Life of Zippers with John Gluckow

The Secret Life of Zippers with John Gluckow

"This is a really crazy zipper made in the 30s by a Connecticut company. It's called the Whizzer. I've only ever seen it on flying suits and one small bag. But it's by far, my favorite zipper just for the oversized and crazily shaped teeth, the slider and the pulls."

The Secret Life of Zippers with John Gluckow

"These are the C-curity and Plako examples, including an original packaging box for the C-curity. C is the blue and Plako is the green. You can see that both have hooks. And the change in the design of the eye is also very clear. The C-curity came with a pamphlet with testimonials and some instructions about using it. One of the problems with both of these was that the mechanism needed to be removed from the garment for laundering, because the metal would rust too easily if exposed to water. The C-curity is rusted here just from moisture in the air over the years."

The Secret Life of Zippers with John Gluckow

"Aota's book--the bible for zipper heads."

The Secret Life of Zippers with John Gluckow

"Ashtray, Talon/Hookless Fastener Co. The company used both names from 1928 to 1932. Before 1928, just Hookless Fastener. After 1932, just Talon."

The Secret Life of Zippers with John Gluckow

"Leather clutch bag with unusual zipper pull. I think this was made by Prentice. All the major companies made decorative and unusual pulls, maybe for custom orders or to try to entice specific target customers."

The Secret Life of Zippers with John Gluckow

"Large brown taped zippers--these came off of a 1920s golf bag. I think they are early Hookless, but I haven't confirmed it with Aota. Showing here because they are another example of the variety of pulls companies made in the beginning. Even though the zippers were made by the same company at the same time, if you look closely at the teeth, the 2 "bump" shapes are totally different. One is very spherical while the other has more of an angled nub. Companies seemed to still be experimenting with tooth shapes."

The Secret Life of Zippers with John Gluckow

"This is the red Town & Country jacket with the early "The Hookless Fastener Co" pull which I spoke of during the recording."

Like the light switch and the steering wheel, zippers are one of those things that we interact with so much they just seem like perpetual fixtures of everyday life. The story of the humble zipper, however, is one of continuous failure unending iteration to bring us the cheap and easy thing we enjoy today. Designer, vintage dealer, and zipper enthusiast John Gluckow takes us through the history of the zipper from a chain link hook and eye fastener to high end riri zips.

You can find John on Instagram, both at Strongarm Clothing & Supply and at John Gluckow Ancient & Modern. Check out the article on heddels.com to see examples from John’s extensive zipper collection. If you want to learn more about zippers, check out the book Zipper Gear by Aota Mituhiro.

This episode is brought to you by the Heddels Shop, listeners get 10% off with the code BLOWOUT. Be sure to check out our new Surf n Turf wallets. Listen on the embedded player above or on the following platforms: