May 21, 2015

EVENT: The Last Zipper Factory in the West - with Obscura LA

The zipper: fashion technology that's about as retro as it gets.

Photo by U-Can Zippers

Fashion trends may come and go, but the once-vulgar zipper has become a necessity for anything you need to open or remove quickly.

When a button or a buckle won't do, there is always the zipper – but it only rose to popularity when its "lewd" advertising campaign promoted quick disrobing, causing a public outcry. The thought of this hookless fastener sliding up and down – and allowing its users to slide in and out of whatever covered them up – was just too much for some people to bear.

Fast forward 100 years, and now we can't imagine our handbags, jackets, jeans and boots without zippers, though we usually don't think much about them unless they adorn the red leather jacket of a major 80s pop star.

Join me on an excursion to U-CAN Zippers USA, LA's only zipper factory, appropriately located just south of the fashion district. Voted LA Weekly's Best Factory Tour 2014, our visit will take us through the "Made in the USA" production lines of a stateside full service zipper factory – a rare thing today, when 80% of the world's zippers are made in China.

U-CAN uses almost 12,000 yards of zipper chain per day, and paints almost 25,000 zipper sliders daily. We'll witness their assembly line in action, as it creates various types of metal and plastic zippers with varying sizes of teeth. We'll also see their inhouse Dye House & Lab, where they can concoct almost any color in addition to the 600 colors already available on their color card. (They can even create a double rainbow.)

If we're lucky, they'll even share the secret to fixing a zipper that doesn't close the teeth, and other infuriating mysteries of malfunctioning zippers.

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