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Closures are functional trims used to open or close a garment.  Usually closures are not visible when the garment is worn. Fasteners are used to hold garment sections closed(shirt opening), in place (Waistband of shirt or trouser) or together (wrap of wrap around top or skirt). Fasteners usually serve decorative as well as functional purposes.

Closures and Fasteners can be categorized as:

  • Buttons
  • Zips
  • Hooks n eyes/bars
  • Buckles and Rings
  • Stoppers
  • Snaps, Shanks and Grommets(Eyelets)



Buttons are traditionally round discs that are sewn through (buttons with holes) or sewn-on (buttons with shanks) to the garment. Buttons are chosen based on their characteristics.

Characteristics of  button: 

  1. Button top, design and shape
  2. Method of fixing – holes or shanks
  3. Size
  4. Type of material
  5. Thread used to fix button

Button top, design and shape

The top is the visible part of the button on the garment. The button’s appearance is determined by design and shape of button top. Button tops may be Flat (as in a shirt button), Half Round (as in domed buttons used on suit coats) or Full Round. Colours used in buttons, surface decoration or design of button top create unique appearance of button. Designs on buttons are made by embossing or engraving. Common shape of button tops is round, but can be made in any shape as long as they can be fixed to a garment with ease. Buttons may have designs, brand names, logo.

Method of fixing of buttons with holes or shank

Buttons are fixed to a garment by manual or machine sewing. Buttons will either have holes through them or shanks, extensions on button underside, to facilitate sewing. Buttons with shanks are always hand sewn. Holed buttons come with either 2, 3 or 4 holes. Holed buttons are either hand sewn or machine stitched with Cross-stitch, Parallel horizontal stitch, Vertical parallel stitch or Triangular sewing.

Button Size

Ligne ‘L’ is unit of measurement of round buttons, Millimeters ‘mm’ is the unit of measurement of shaped buttons. Size in ‘L’ and ‘mm’ are denoted as 8L or 8MM. A 8mm button is bigger than an 8L button.

Type of material used to make Button

A variety of materials are used to make buttons. While making use of any material to make buttons, the material has to fulfill required button performance standards. Below are a few most commonly used materials, their characteristics, care and caution in use of materials.

  • Metals: Gold, Silver, Brass, Bronze, Copper, Steel, Aluminium, Gunmetal are a few types of metals used in making buttons. The type of metal is chosen based on the cost, colour, metal characteristics, weight, care and caution required for use on a garment. Usually aluminium or steel buttons are coated or plated with the more expensive buttons to achieve required appearance. Many times metal buttons are oxidized to achieve an antique look.
  • Wood: Any type of wood that can be carved or cut to required shape is used. Most wooden buttons bleed. Wooden buttons tend to leave imprint or transfer colour when the garment is stored folded for a long time. Wooden buttons can be treated for colour fastness, but are a bit expensive.
  • Horns, Bones & Teeth: These were the first materials to be used as buttons by ancient civilisations in their clothing. Presently these are commonly used on leather clothing rather than in clothing made with fabric. Horns, Bones and Teeth need to be processed properly to avoid staining material of garment due to residue of natural liquids in the bones or teeth. Each country has laws pertaining to use of animal parts in products, its best to ensure that no law is broken for the sake of aesthetics or value addition. To avoid breaking any wildlife laws, and due to ethical and environmental issues, imitations are made.
  • Natural or Cultured Pearl: Natural pearls modified tobe used as buttons. Very expensive, ethical and environmental issues, hence used sparingly. Instead imitations are used.
  • Natural Shell: Fruit or sea or fresh water shells are used. Coconut shell and Mother of Pearl (shell of pearl) are the most commonly used shells. Shells tend to give off oils or colour, have to be treated properly to avoid staining on garment. 
  • Polyester: Considered the most versatile and durable of all materials used in button making. Polyester buttons can be given different surface effects and textures such as shiny-smooth, opaque -slippery, matte-grainy. Usually available in most colours, can be made to match base fabric colour (DTM-dyed to match). Polyester buttons are a bit more expensive than other synthetic materials used in making buttons.
  • Acrylic: Most commonly used to make imitation pearl or mirror buttons. These buttons can have a pearly or glass like transparent or mirror like reflective surfaces. Usually available in most colours, can be made to match base fabric colour (DTM-dyed to match). Less expensive than polyester buttons but cost more than nylon buttons. Are less durable than polyester buttons.
  • Nylon: Nylon buttons are dull in appearance and available in limited colours. Nylon buttons also tend to distort or break or melt easily. The most inexpensive material used in button making. 

Thread used to fix Button

Colour of thread used to fix buttons affects the appearance of garment. The  thread quality affects strength or secureness of button attaching.

Button Packaging

Buttons are available to buy in multiples of unit gross(144nos.) Depending on method of manufacture (injection molding or die-cut from sheets) minimum quantities of sale are fixed by button manufacturer.

Button performance requirements: 

  • Any material used to make buttons has tobe legal for use in the country the garment is being sold. Example… use of Ivory buttons is illegal in countries which have banned killing of elephant and use of products made with parts of the elephant.
  • In general, colours of dope dyed buttons are more durable than overdyed buttons.
  • During handling or when in contact with liquids, should not bleed (give off / release colour) as garment appearance would spoil due to button colour depositing on garment.
  • Coating / Plating should not come-off or distort during industrial or domestic washing.
  • Should not have edges that can distort garment appearance or harm the wearer of garment.
  • Should not release nickel as nickel is harmful to skin.
  • Should not rust or corrode when exposed to air or moisture.
  • Should not distort or bleed or break in domestic wash.
  • Should not melt, break or distort during domestic ironing.
  • Should not be so heavy or elaborately designed that, it damages fabric of garment or interferes with garment wearing or distorts garment appearance. Examples….buttons heavy for the base fabric tend to sag or pull the area down, there by distorting appearance, many times heavy or elaborate buttons on pull-over garments tend to get tangled in hair or get stuck in another part of garment making wearing of garment a little tedious.



A Zipper is a fastening device that makes a complete closure by means of interlocking teeth or coils. The teeth/coils are fixed to a cloth tape on one end and interlock on the other end. The slider is used to interlock or unlock the zippers. Different types of zippers are available. Choice of a specific zipper type, length and its application is based on characteristics or aspects of a zipper or the garment on which the zip is tobe used. They are

  1. Style and Design of Garment
  2. Type and weight of fabric
  3. Type of Opening
  4. Type and Use of Garment
  5. Garment Construction Method
  6. Care of Garment



A zipper consists of the following parts:

  1. Element (teeth or coil): Element is the part of zipper designed for interlocking. The element can be in the form of tooth or coil. A series of tooth are fixed on the edge of tape in case of teeth zipper, a continuous coil is fixed to the tape edge in case of coil zippers.
  2. Slider: Is moved up or down on the zipper teeth or coil to open or close the zipper. Slider also contains a locking system within it to regulate slider movement or to limit opening or closing of zipper.
  3. Puller: is tab on slider that is used to operate the slider
  4. Tape: It is the woven/knitted strip of cloth on which the elements are fixed. A pair of zip tapes containing the elements is required to make a zipper.
  5. Top Stop: Is the plastic or metal piece fixed to the tape at one end of the zip to prevent the slider from slipping-off the tape. The top stop is replaceable.
  6. Bottom Stop: A plastic or metal piece at the base of zipper.



Depending upon the lock type sliders come in different types, they are:

  • Automatic Lock Slider: A slider that locks on immediately upon release of the puller.
  • Non Lock Slider: A slider without any locking mechanism.
  • Semi Automatic Lock Slider: A Slider where the puller needs to be pressed down to lock.


The sliders come in different designs. Hence while ordering, check in the supplier catalog for the slider design that is required. 


The puller come in different designs. Hence while ordering, check in the supplier catalog for the slider design that is required. Designs are engraved or embossed on the rim.



The size of the zipper is measured in MM across the locked teeth/coil (width when of both the sets of teeth once they are interlocked). If it measures 3mm, then it is a # 3 zipper.


The length of zippers is measured in CMS or INCHES from the Top Stop to the Bottom Stop.


Zipper tapes come in DTM options. Also in case of coil and plastic zippers the elements also are DTM. The elements can wither be DTM to the tape or Contrast to the Tape, the Tape can be either DTM or contrast to the body fabric of garment. The slider can also be DTM or contrast. The colour of the zipper needs tobe chosen from the colour of the zip supplier while ordering.



Zippers are categorized based on following factors:

  • On the basis of construction (structure)
  • On the basis of function (the way it is operated)
  • On the basis of material used to make teeth/coil



  • Teeth – Those zips that contain coil of elements
  • Coil – those zips that contain coil of elements



  8. ONE WAY
  9. TWO WAY

Non-Separating: Zipper tapes do not separate when zipper is opened.

Separating: Zipper tapes separate into 2 separate strips when zipper is opened.CONVENTIONAL: These are zippers that are regularly used on trousers, where the tapes of the zip are closed on the bottom end and the other end opens when the zipper is opened. This zipper opens when the slider is moved in one direction and closes when the slider is moved in the opposite direction.

Invisible: When this zipper is fixed to the garment, the teeth/coil are not visible on right side of  garment, other than that, all other aspects remain same as conventional zippers.

Reversible: Reversible zipper is operable from both sides of garment. Reversible slider is integral part of reversible zipper.

Open End/s: Zippers where either both or one of the ends open when in use.

Closed End/s: Zippers where both ends of of the zipper are closed.

One-Way: These zippers operate in one direction only. Usually has only 1 slider to operate zipper.

Two-Way: These zippers operate in both directions. Usually has 2 sliders to operate zipper. 


Zippers are categorized based on the material that is used to make its elements. Commonly used materials are:

  • Metals – Steel, Brass, Bronze, Copper, Imitation Silver, Aluminium
  • Nylon, Polyester
  • Plastic

Metal zips are always teeth zippers. The teeth of the zipper are made with metal, hence referred to as metal zippers. Metals commonly used to make teeth are Steel, Brass, Bronze, Copper, Imitation Silver, Aluminium. Steel is very shiny and non-corrosive (does not rust). But should be nickel release free. Variations in appearance of steel are gunmetal or greySilver / Bronze / Copper  / Brass is not used but imitation  zippers are made. Silver / Bronze / Copper  /  Brass is either coated or plated on a less expensive metal. Antique look is created by oxidizing the brass coating/plating. Aluminium zippers are the least expensive but as the metal is soft teeth wear-off after a few uses. The aluminium turns black when exposed to air and domestic washes. 

Synthetic Zippers are Light weight and colour options are the biggest advantages of synthetic zippers. Variation in zipper appearance is achieved by making tape in teeth/coil in same colour or by having different colours for tape and teeth/coil. Nylon, Polyester zippers are made as coil zippers. Polyester zipppers are durable, do not wear-off easily and available in more colour options in comparison with the nylon zippers. But Polyester zippers are more expensive than nylon zippers. Plastic zipppers are commonly known as visclon zippers. These zips have teeth and are used places where a metal zipper is inconvenient.(heat resistant clothing). Colours of Synthetic zippers are achieved by either dope-dyeing or by over-dyeing. Dope-dyeing is more durable and expensive than over-dyeing.