If you’re among the individuals who purchased the 450 million pairs of blue jeans sold in America this year, zipping up is part of your everyday routine. However, despite the ubiquity of this design element since its invention in 1851, many of us don’t know a whole lot about why our zippers look the way that they do.
The reasoning behind the actual zipper part is simple: zippers make it fast and easy to get in and out of clothing. Better yet, the interlocking teeth in a zipper, when run through a zipper pull, are a strong means of holding clothing together, but don’t take up the space or have the aesthetic issues associated with bulky buttons. Zippers also use less metal than your average button, meaning that denim manufacturers who swapped their button flys for zip ones could enjoy some extra savings, too.
But what about the zipper pull itself? That tiny hole in the tab on the end of your zipper pull has more than just an aesthetic function. If you’ve ever had a stuck zipper, you probably know the frustration of trying to grip that tiny piece of metal, only to have it slip out of your fingers time and time again. That’s where the hole in your zipper comes in: if you need a bit more force with which to pull your zipper, you can thread a string or thin piece of fabric through the hole. Give that a tug and voila! Your zipper becomes unstuck and you haven’t sacrificed the skin on your fingers to do it. Even cooler, that metal ring, when pressed flat against your zipper’s metal teeth, locks in place, meaning you won’t ever accidentally flash your coworkers your undies again.
Related gallery: 3 ways to make old jeans look new again [via Redbook]