In our world chock-full of wondrous smartphone apps that can (supposedly) teach you a new language in a fortnight or turn on your washing machine when you’re on the other side of the planet, it’s strange to think that when the humble zipper was first invented in the 1890s, it was considered a technological marvel. Even in the 1930s, when the device was becoming a more mainstream feature of everyday apparel, Esquire Magazine hailed it as ‘The newest tailoring idea for men’.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and this now commonplace fastener is not something that many of us give much thought to, but for the Raccagni family, the pursuit of the perfect zipper has been an obsession for the past three decades.
Having started out in 1983 as a small firm based in Bergamo, Northern Italy, Raccagni zippers are now in demand by some of the world’s most discerning fashion houses, including Tom Ford, Mulberry, Paul Smith and Christian Dior, and the firm is still run by the founding family today.
Cristiano Raccagni, son of the founders and the brand’s Chief Technology Officer, says he grew up on the factory floor and recalls his parents encouraging him to get involved with production on school holidays.
“When it’s your family business and it’s your name on it, you work to make it the best you can – it’s a very Italian thing”
– Cristiano Raccagni
With such an esteemed client list, it only seemed natural for our founders at Carl Friedrik, Mattis and Niklas Oppermann, to approach the Raccagni family to design the zippers for their own luxury leather goods, too.
But aside from their stellar reputation amongst the world’s leading fashion houses, what made Raccagni zippers stand out for the Oppermann brothers? “We explored every avenue in the world of premium zipper manufacture, but for us, Raccagni stood head and shoulders above the competition. The product held up to our demanding tests and the brand was highly recommended by experts in the industry. Equally important, they offered the best finish and overall appearance – for our Core collection we wanted a lustrous nickel finish, while with our Surfaces range and Collection 3, we were after a more industrial gunmetal look. Raccagni were able to meet the brief precisely”
“We explored every avenue in the world of premium zipper manufacture, but for us, Raccagni stood head and shoulders above the competition."
– Niklas Oppermann
Raccagni’s bespoke manufacturing process, which involves dozens of individual steps and the crafting of numerous component parts, takes three weeks, from start to finish. And it’s the way these parts are crafted that’s central to the outstanding quality of Raccagni zippers.
The teeth - made from solid brass - are polished using precision sanding cubes, inside of which the teeth are tumbled to smooth off any rough edges, which not only ensures a seamless glide, but prevents the mechanism jamming; a common fault in lower-grade zippers, which are often made from less robust aluminium and plastic. This meticulous polishing process is why you’ll find the slide action on Carl Friedrik bags and folios disarmingly smooth.
The brand’s rigorous quality control checks are second to none, which include tests for resistance to heat, humidity and tarnishing. To finish, an invisible coating is applied to the zipper, to protect it from any chemicals found in leather goods ensuring it won’t corrode. “All of our tests are tailored specifically to the client’s needs. One of our customers requested that their zippers be subjected to 4,000 cycles of opening and closing without scratching whatsoever. We were able to deliver this due to the precision craftsmanship and quality of the materials we use” explains Cristiano Raccagni.
The sliders and pullers are also made with durability and functionality in mind and are cast from Zamac - a robust zinc alloy which can be injection moulded to any shape.“Raccagni are very particularly at producing everything in-house, not only the zipper components but also the machinery and moulds with which the zippers are produced. They’ve even developed their own bespoke injection moulds and brass teeth-cutting equipment in house, to ensure they get the exact quality and finish they’re after and have total control over the customisation process”, says Steve Barraclough, Raccagni’s UK Sales Executive.
Ultimately, this unfailing dedication to craftsmanship and shrewd attention to detail means that the zippers in any of our designs here at Carl Friedrik will remain functioning as intended and look every inch an object of luxury in their own right - even after years of use. A well-placed investment, if we don’t say so ourselves.