September 19, 2016

The world’s first ergonomic zipper

For many seasons, we’ve been working on the ergonomic preshaping of apparel by means of specific panels.

But one element was resisting our attempts to enhance comfort: the part of the collar around the chin, because of the stiffness caused by the zipper. With YKK, we have now solved this problem, and are proud to present Fix A Shape®…

 

 

How we succeeded, alongside YKK, in giving the face perfect protection while also delivering complete freedom of movement.
 

 

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Thomas wears the Shaper jacket with the Fix a Shape system by YKK
 

 

As a rule, for a technical garment to be comfortable and convenient, fit is all-important. Fit ensures that cuffs extend the right distance over the hand, depending on the activity; that the jacket doesn’t ride up when you raise your arms; and that pant knees accommodate the natural flex of the legs. We therefore design our product patterns so that when the pieces of fabric are assembled, they form an ergonomic build – matching users’ bodyshape and not restricting their movements.

But the curved shape of our neck is hard, and even impossible, to follow using conventional pattern-making techniques, due to the stiffness of the zippers we use. When the collar’s up, this rigidity causes rubbing on the chin (serious powder + hood = irritated skin!) and lots of air around the neck, which is bad news for keeping warmth in.

Faced with this obstacle, we held meetings then undertook a long-term project with YKK, our supplier (and world-leading zipper maker), to create a zipper that would put an end to the problem.

 

 

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Lynn Whittingham, marketing executive at YKK, explains how:

“With zippers, we are usually looking for a flexible and smooth solution, but for this problem we needed to somehow merge rigidity and smoothness. The idea was to create a zipper that is easy to operate, but which follows the shape of a person’s neck. The result of this project was the Fix A Shape® item, a technology that opens up a whole new way of looking at garment patterns and zipper applications. If you can have sections where you can change the rigidity, shape and direction of a zipper, it allows for new designs where the zipper is no longer compromising the comfort of the wearer.”
 

 

After three years’ R&D, YKK finalized a pre-shaped zipper with stiffness that varies by section, and which perfectly weds the contour of the face: Fix A Shape®, the world’s first ergonomic zipper, was born. Thanks to this radically innovative technology, we can finally design jackets that are as comfortable, convenient and protective as possible, without compromising any of these three characteristics, which are paramount for a technical garment. The collar rises nice and high to protect the bottom of the face from wet, cold and wind, but impedes neither breathing nor movement, and also prevents friction on the chin. When the hood is being worn, especially with a helmet, your regular jacket collar tends to dig into the neck. Not with Fix A Shape®. Zipping up is no longer a problem: the trajectory followed by the slider means it doesn’t catch on other garments – or your neck. As soon as we could, we added it to our development-phase products and had our ambassadors test it…

 

 

 

  

 

 

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“the perfect double skin for the mountains”
 

 

Bruno Garban, ski explorer

 

"When you spend winter in the mountains, you need good protection and really fluid movement. The Fix A Shape® is morphological, snug-fitting insulation that gives free-flowing movement – no stiff zipper, and the hood goes with the flow. In my opinion, it’s the perfect double skin for skiing in the mountains."

 

 

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Anton Sponar, sheer-slope trailblazer

 

“When a jacket’s main zipper can’t be fully pulled up because of a helmet or layers of insulation, then it feels like a lot of material is hanging around my neck and shoulders. But I’ve never had that problem with Fix A Shape®, as I always have the zipper right up.”

 

 

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“It definitely makes a noticeable, roomy space for my chin to live in, and also keeps my face well protected”
 

 

Tom Runcie, world tourist freerider

 

“The technology behind the Fix A Shape® zipper works really well. It definitely makes a noticeable, roomy space for my chin to live in, and also keeps my face well protected. Even with the hood up, the jacket doesn’t bind as you turn, and remains very pleasant to wear.”

 

 

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