YKK is one of the global market leaders for trims and fastening solutions. The Japanese ingredient brand was founded in 1934 and started production in Germany in 1972. The brand focuses primarily on quality and innovative, sustainable solutions. The durability of the zips, buckles and press studs is undisputed. Their ingredients contain no harmful substances, flawless materials and above-average product quality.

We ask Lisa Polk, Project Management Eco-Design, Sympatex:



How did the cooperation with YKK come about?

Sympatex stands for collaboration, sustainability and innovation. Just like YKK, we not only have the same visions, but we are also both « ingredient brands » and supply ingredients for outdoor clothing. These similarities formed the basis for an exciting exchange with similar problems, especially in eco-design.

What was the joint output of the collaboration?

We developed a joint trade fair collection with YKK. Not surprisingly, special attention was paid to the ingredients of the garments. We contributed our latest developments to create a contemporary collection with the impulses of the Sympatex « Eco-Design Guide ». This guide is intended to suggest various working methods to designers from the outdoor/sports sector on how the right ingredients can be used harmoniously in the design process.

To what extent is eco-design relevant for ingredient brands?

Eco-design is essential for everyone involved in the value chain. It is the basis for a sustainable and recyclable garment. At Sympatex, we have set ourselves the task of converting our entire portfolio to 100% circular fibre2fibre articles by 2030. We want to use the interface to our brands so that designers can use our material appropriately and also return the finished garment to the cycle. Designers today therefore have a responsible task that goes far beyond aesthetics or a sense of trends. Social, ecological and political factors must also be integrated into the process when it comes to circularity and environmental compatibility.

What hurdles were there in the collaboration?

It was essential for us to experience the collection design process and its realisation ourselves in order to better understand our customers and their obstacles. There is certainly still a lot to do in the area of monobased polyester trims. I also found it a challenge to manage the balancing act of aesthetics, function and sustainability.

What synergies have resulted from this?

The exchange with YKK was very enriching and a gain for both sides. Despite its gigantic importance as a trim supplier, the company is very familiar and tangible in its cooperation. I also see YKK as an important cooperation partner in the future: Sympatex is currently working on a new project, the « Sustainability Impact Programme », a series of workshops with subsequent networking access aimed at young designers from the outdoor industry. Since our collaboration, I see the innovative YKK showroom in London as indispensable for this format.