The Japanese company, the global leader of the zippers industry, helps the fashion world to solve its plastic and waste problems.
Zippers, rivets, and labels add personality to a pair of jeans. Even though they are of small size, these components are among the ways brands distinguish their jeans from others, and they can significantly add to the environmental footprint of clothing. Now more than ever, with consumer awareness of false sustainable claims at an all-time high, any brand using the word “sustainable” to market its jeans must ensure that every element of that product is indeed environmentally friendly.
With regards to zippers, YKK is the major player of the industry, retaining nearly half of the entire market share. The company debuted its Spring/Summer 2022 collection with three sustainably focused offers:
Natulon, that features taping made of recycled polyester yarn;
AcroPlating, a technology allowing to finish snaps and buttons in an eco-friendly way;
Vislon Nylon, a recyclable zipper.
The “Natulon” series concerns tape materials and uses recycled polyester. It combines Ocean Sourced and GreenRise: the first one is a line of zipper tapes made from ocean-bound plastic waste that offer the same strength, durability and functionality as conventional zippers made from virgin polyester; while the second one represents the industry’s first zipper made with plant-derived components.
By means of this collection, YKK aims to lower its greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the use of petroleum-derived materials, and decrease at the same time the amount of plastic waste disposed of by the entire industry.
“AcroPlating” is an environmentally friendly solution that allows the products to be available in six colourways, with a strong resistance to corrosion and dry cleaning. This technology for finishing snaps and buttons has a significantly lower environmental impact than conventional plating: it reduces chemical consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, sludge, thermal energy and water usage.
The third and last offer is called “Vislon Nylon”, which makes it possible to recycle zippers without having to separate all of their components beforehand. This YKK’s product has a structure of polyamide (PA), which allows an easier recycling process together with the nylon garment on which it is sewn.
“We are designing materials and manufacturing processes, not just colors and shapes”, “While keeping the appearance familiar, we are building various technologies to realize them with more sustainable materials and manufacturing methods.” These the words of Saki Uesugi, a member of the products innovation team for YKK Italia S.p.a., confirming the functionality of the collection.
Many experts of the fashion industry have questioned whether or not sustainability will continue to be a top priority even after covid-19, but YKK’s latest collection proves them wrong. Tadao Yoshida, its founder, argues that the company works assuming as core values of its activity the attention to the quality of life, shared well-being and equal dignity among individuals.
This approach, called “The Cycle of Goodness” is carried out, for example, in respecting and protecting the environment, which is guaranteed by working with the latest equipment that minimizes the environmental impact, in order to ensure the prosperity of local communities in which YKK is working.