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March 19, 2008

Who died and made North Face God? Or, since when did zipper pulls go on the left?


Look at the photo above.

What do you see?

I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my spiffy new ultralight (2.9 oz) North Face wind jacket (above) — all I knew was that I was having trouble zipping it up.

Then I looked down and twigged: they put the zipper on backwards!

The pull thingie's supposed to be on the right so the (usually) right-sided dominant hand can grasp it.

You could look it up (and down, below).


What gives?

Yes, I know that women's and men's shirts button oppositely, but zippers are always the same.

I checked to make sure I wasn't having a Philip K. Dick fever dream or Leonardo moment or somehow still in the Bizarro World from my trip there while I was sleeping but no — I was here and now in our consensus reality and the zipper pull was mos def on the wrong side.

I went and checked all my other jackets and they were still okay.

This reminds of when knife blocks suddenly rotated their slots 90° — if you didn't have one of the pre-rotational iterations like I do (mine's pictured below),


you'd think people like me were just not with the picture.

That may well be true — but I know a hawk from a handsaw and I know a zipper that's not right when I see one.

March 19, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Sorry, I was trying to pay attention to the knife thing the same way I was doing well with the zipper explanation (though quite frankly I can't see what the whole fuss is about - left, right it closes right?) when I became distracted by your Tweety Bird oven thingie...

Posted by: Milena | Mar 21, 2008 12:11:26 PM

UK zips are set for left-hand sliding.

Posted by: Skipweasel | Mar 20, 2008 7:32:00 PM

I went and checked my jacket: zipper pulled with left hand. And since it seems absolutely natural to me, I assume that all the jackets I've worn were the same. (I'm in Europe.)

As for the jeans, I never knew if mine were men's or women's. I've always thought that because they didn't look particularly girly, they're probably unisex and they button up just like men's jeans, but I never checked.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 20, 2008 7:14:05 AM

In Europe, jackets etc. are mostly sold in such configuration that pulling up the zipper is done with the left hand. The American brands are the only ones which sell garments which do not have left hand pulled zippers.

Posted by: Benny | Mar 20, 2008 4:28:54 AM

Well done Ray.

(and yes, I just clicked into comments to tell Joe to turn his knives over so they will maintain their edges better)

Posted by: Tim | Mar 20, 2008 2:25:08 AM

The reason that knife blocks changed is because most people put their knives into the block with the edge down. There are more than a few of us who value our knives - especially my high carbon Sabatier kitchen knives. My knives are always razor sharp and kept at a 15 degree angle edge (except for the 22 degree true cleaver). Putting a knife into a wood slot edge down will dull the knife on insertion and removal unless one is extra careful to press up and use the back of the knife to guide the blade into the block.

Unfortunately, even if you did insert the knife that way, gravity and vibration (from a dishwasher or garbage disposal) will dull sharp knives in the block. Putting the knife in with the back of the knife down tends to protect the edge - but the insertion and removal process still damages the edge.

A knife block made out of plastic with horizontal slots will avoid most of these issues. The one that I own is hollow and can be broken down and put in a dishwasher - if it gets soiled. The plastic is far, far softer than the Rockwell 65 hardness of my knives and most knife blocks are made from hard woods such as Maple and Oak. They are much harder than the plastic. The alignment of the edge of the knife is the key to keeping good knives sharp (that and keeping them out of dishwashers and sinks full of water) - I like the fact that my knives edges are held apart in the open air inside the plastic block. See here:


Or, the tiny version: http://preview.tinyurl.com/27rx65

The only vertical slot is for the largest chef's knife a 14" chopping blade and it goes in back first.

The zipper business is strictly gauche.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Mar 19, 2008 6:25:42 PM

The only one I ever encountered was when I was going to purchase some men's fleece jackets from a Canadian company. The rep claimed that they were all made that way so I assumed that it was a Canadian thing.

Is there some cultural revenge going on here we don't know about?

Posted by: Ray | Mar 19, 2008 6:14:22 PM

I have a Puma track jacket I picked up in the UK years ago, same issue. Never quite understood what was the cause of that. If it's any reconciliation, it won't take much time before you're used to it and don't even notice the difference.

Posted by: johnjohn | Mar 19, 2008 4:39:43 PM

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