Is Your Zipper Real?

Barely a week ago, I wrote about a company in Brooklyn that fixes Chinese manufacturing mistakes, and asked for similar examples. Some of you posted your stories (I loved the one about the white polymer resin that got contaminated by small black cylinders that looked like “rat turds”).

The Wall Street Journal was good enough to chip in as well. It ran a front-page article yesterday about a guy in L.A. named Barry Forman, who retired from the garment industry 14 years ago because too much manufacturing had moved overseas. But Forman has come roaring back to life, thanks to that same overseas manufacturing. His job is to rescue millions of dollars’ worth of imported clothing by fixing the manufacturing botches. (The Journal article is behind a paywall but here’s the same article reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

But the most interesting example in the article wasn’t about a mistake exactly; it had to do with a load of 17,000 Chinese-made denim pants that were confiscated in Long Beach by U.S. Customs. Why? Their zipper tabs were imprinted with “YKK,” the Japanese company who made the zipper on the very pair of pants I’m wearing (and, probably, yours). But they were counterfeit zippers. I am not sure why someone would bother to counterfeit a zipper. (Have you ever bought a pair of pants because of its brand of zipper? Now that I think of it, how do I know that my YKK zipper is real?)

So Barry Forman was called in to fix the problem. He did this by putting fifteen employees to work with hand drills, grinding off the fake “YKK” mark on each zipper. It took them five days. I am curious how much this intervention raised the price on this lot of denim pants. The economics of commercial piracy are vast and fascinating; I was talking to a lawyer friend not long ago who assured me that a significant fraction of the toiletries and household products I buy every day are fake.

TAGS:

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

 

COMMENTS: 34

View All Comments »
  1. Crosbie says:

    There’s also faux-fake.

    These are either own-brand products designed to look strangely familiar (as if a well-known brand) and yet clearly the work of the umbrella brand, or they are arbitrary-brand, designed to look just as well designed and branded as familiar brands, but the brand names are completely unfamiliar.

    I have been tricked into thinking own-brand was a Heinz brand once (much to my annoyance).

    But, I have never felt so ill as I did when I went shopping in a certain supermarket full of arbitrarily-branded goods.

    The thing is, because the brand is fake, the product cannot be. The product is a genuine instance of a fake brand.

    Hence faux-fake.

    It’s worse than a foreign country, because there are no locals you can trust to have weeded out the dud brands/products.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  2. Crosbie says:

    There’s also faux-fake.

    These are either own-brand products designed to look strangely familiar (as if a well-known brand) and yet clearly the work of the umbrella brand, or they are arbitrary-brand, designed to look just as well designed and branded as familiar brands, but the brand names are completely unfamiliar.

    I have been tricked into thinking own-brand was a Heinz brand once (much to my annoyance).

    But, I have never felt so ill as I did when I went shopping in a certain supermarket full of arbitrarily-branded goods.

    The thing is, because the brand is fake, the product cannot be. The product is a genuine instance of a fake brand.

    Hence faux-fake.

    It’s worse than a foreign country, because there are no locals you can trust to have weeded out the dud brands/products.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  3. snubgodtoh says:

    I’m guessing the firm in China bought a used zipper press–or die or whatever the heck on turns raw metal into a zipper with–from the Japanese firm YKK. Did anyone catch fresh air last week featuring this really neat rap artist Andre3000? He actually says “YKK on your zipper” in a song, always wondered, now I know.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  4. snubgodtoh says:

    I’m guessing the firm in China bought a used zipper press–or die or whatever the heck on turns raw metal into a zipper with–from the Japanese firm YKK. Did anyone catch fresh air last week featuring this really neat rap artist Andre3000? He actually says “YKK on your zipper” in a song, always wondered, now I know.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  5. snubgodtoh says:

    Sorry, that was meant to be “one turns raw metal…” on to the spell check discussion.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  6. snubgodtoh says:

    Sorry, that was meant to be “one turns raw metal…” on to the spell check discussion.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. daveintherain says:

    The problem here is that the end consumer is not the only consumer of the branded zipper. Even though an end consumer might not buy pants becuase of the brand of zipper, clothing manufacturers presumably know a lot about zippers and buttons and many other clothing components, and will make buying decisions accordingly.

    The pants maker may also realize that selling pants with fake YKK zippers might be actionable in court as passing off.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  8. daveintherain says:

    The problem here is that the end consumer is not the only consumer of the branded zipper. Even though an end consumer might not buy pants becuase of the brand of zipper, clothing manufacturers presumably know a lot about zippers and buttons and many other clothing components, and will make buying decisions accordingly.

    The pants maker may also realize that selling pants with fake YKK zippers might be actionable in court as passing off.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0