As in years past, this month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. 2016 marks my fifth anniversary, and this is the final post in the series! Click here to read them all, in alphabetical order.
Invented by Whitcomb L. Judson, the zipper is a Chicago invention. Who knew?
Technically, Judson holds a patent on a “chain-lock fastener,” which was a precursor to the modern zipper. He invented this in 1890, and applied for a patent for a “clasp locker” in 1893. Here’s a drawing from his application:
As you can see, his device was mainly designed for shoes, and was meant to replace the tedious buttoning and unbuttoning required of shoes at the time. Fancy that!
In 1913, a Swedish-American engineer improved upon the clasp locker, and ultimately the device was renamed a zipper by the B.F. Goodrich company in 1923.
Zip on, zipper enthusiasts!
Another Chicago fashion innovation was the zoot suit.
Well, to be fair, the zoot suit’s invention has been attributed to several designers, including Harold C. Fox of Chicago, Charles Klein and Vito Bagnato of New York, Louis Lettes of Memphis and Nathan Elkus of Detroit. But since this post is about Chicago’s contributions to fashion, I’ll assume the real inventor of the suit was Mr. Fox.
Some famous zoot suit wearers include Cab Calloway:
And a young Malcolm X:
And finally, although I dislike zoos in general, I still have the Lincoln Park Zoo song stuck in my head, almost 30 years later. Clearly a brilliant piece of marketing!
Pre-order your copy today
Like what you just read? Thinking of visiting Chicago soon? Pre-order your copy of my forthcoming guidebook, Chicago From A to Z, for lots more about the Windy City – including local hotspots, tourist attractions, cultural oddities, and anecdotes you just won’t find anywhere else!