What do rodeo cowboys and Spaghetti Westerns have in common with the U.S. Military and baby clothes? Scovill Fasteners of course. Famous for its Gripper® and DOT® snaps, the original supplier of Duramark® buttons to some of the oldest jeans makers in the world has become the fastening supplier of choice across the globe.
Just write denim, and you’ve signed America’s signature. And Scovill, leader of its industry, has played a proud role in the history of denim from the very beginning. For over 150 years Scovill products have evolved alongside the denim industry, in a tightly woven relationship with global fashion, workwear, and other heavy-duty fabric trends.
“We have always adapted our product lines to suit our markets. We’ve shared in the denim journey from where it started as a working man’s fabric to where it evolved into a popular fashion statement. As denim has changed, our products have changed alongside denim,” says April Spiegel, Director of Marketing and Communication Services. As a result, Scovill’s products can be found across the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe thanks to skilled product development and strategic partnerships around the world.
Form and function
In many of the uses for Scovill products, safety is everything. Rigorous testing is paramount for buyers in the boat, military apparel and accessories, and medical devices markets – and especially in high-durability pieces, and even children’s clothing and fashion jeans due to high consumer safety standards. As such, standard routine at Scovill involves not just testing that the metal content meets precise requirements, but many other meticulous processes like the separation-strength test that ensures the reliability of snaps on children’s clothing in particular.
Scovill credits a part of the company’s success purely to conforming to high international standards, striving to exceed both the American and European safety medians. Fasteners typically consist of many various elements that can separate if not properly designed, manufactured and tested, and this could, in some circumstances, be the difference between life and death.
For instance, snap fasteners typically consist of a cap attached to a socket which snaps into a stud, which in turn is secured to a post pushed through a substrate, such as fabric. A weakness at any point in this system might lead to serious consequences.
A range of innovations
Headquartered in Clarkesville, Georgia, Scovill Fasteners’ engineering department works ceaselessly at refining existing designs and creating new product lines and solutions. Last year, the company launched a major extension of its DOT® Grommet and Washer product line, including brand new sizes, finishes and metals. It also collaborated with its Japanese parent company, Morito, to develop a line of DOT® hook-and-loop products that are set to compete with Velcro®.
These are not Scovill Fasteners’ only offerings. As one of the largest global manufacturers in the industry, Scovill Fasteners has also been offering metal buttons and fasteners such as zippers for many years. Metal buttons for the denim industry are marketed under one of its largest brands, Duramark®. Then there is also DOT®, a 108-year-old brand that features a range of industrial fasteners so popular they starred on the Apollo 11 crew’s space-suits during the first moon landing in 1969.
All in all, this dynamic manufacturer serves myriad industries. There are marine, medical, electronics, footwear, and sporting equipment industry applications as well as a multitude of military uses for the company’s products. Under pressure from some of the toughest client needs that exist, it’s not surprising that the Scovill team has come up with some of the best quality fastener solutions available in the market today.
Scovill is also no stranger to fabricating small, custom brass and stainless steel items for the medical industry, and it also works in specialty metals like steel, copper, zinc, and others. To keep its apparel products on trend and educate fashion designers in the infinite possibilities of its offerings, Scovill Fasteners has maintained a sales and product team office in New York City for many years.
The company really goes out of its way to ensure that its button designs remain fresh and current. “We’re not waiting for designers to tell us what they want. We also inspire designers and give them ideas,” April says.
But it is not all glitz and glam. The team works with a number of workwear manufacturers to create the best and most hardwearing buttons and snaps for heavy industrial laundered clothing. “Buttons used to just hold together jeans; today they form a vital part of manufacturing companies’ brands. Today, buttons are part of the overall design and function of the garment,” says April.
As it should be with legacy businesses, relationships and quality support the longevity of this company. Scovill Fasteners offers its clients a full partnership service, making collaboration seamless. Following a detailed discussion with the client, a 3D digital model of the solution is developed within 48 hours. This helps customers quickly and efficiently decide on the final look of the product. Once agreed upon, a complete prototype is fabricated for approval. If suitable, the team manufactures a sample run of fasteners that can be tested on the clothes.
Attending to even the smallest detail is the deciding difference between a good fastener and a great one, as all technical specifications, including the intended fabric thickness contribute to the design. “Moreover, the design and composition of the actual fastener are of utmost importance as different paints and finishes adhere differently to different metals, which makes identifying goals during the design conversation very important,” April says.
To this end, the company’s technical team assists in assuring that all technical and physical components work together correctly. Safe, highly functional products are the result. “We consider all the processes that the client will put the garment through. For this, we have our own machines and equipment where products are tested to simulate customer production conditions. It’s part of our value-added service to ensure that our customers get exactly what they need,” says April.
In addition to providing high level testing and fastener selection support at the beginning of the customer decision process, Scovill offers a full range of service from design and delivery to application. The team is always ready to help its customers throughout the fastener selection process and beyond, and coordinates with its facilities around the world to provide partnership every step of the way. This support can take the form of value-added services for customers, such as attaching machines and the calibration of packing machines, as well as the servicing of production machinery. The company also provides end-to-end consultation and support, product testing and quality control, Peace of Mind Attaching System (PMAS) to help customers select the right fasteners for their applications, and a selection of automatic, semi-automatic and manual attaching machines to meet your specific needs and applications.
This level of service delivery is unique, making Scovill Fasteners a familiar name and a favorite of the world’s largest apparel brands, amongst other industries.
A colorful history
The company has a rich and eventful history. It was started by the Scovill brothers in Waterbury, Connecticut, around 1802, as the region’s large brass-based industry provided ideal conditions for heavy-duty button production. The company prides itself on being at the heart of brass-working trends throughout the years and even produced America’s very first gilt buttons. In 1812, the company was contracted to create the beautiful pewter buttons that studded soldiers’ uniforms during the War of 1812.
Then, in 1825, the visit of General Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, better known as the Marquis de Lafayette, presented an opportunity to create some of the most famous buttons in the company’s history. The 17-button set sported the commanding profile of George Washington. The set was fashioned from a single gold nugget from a North Carolina mine. And they were beautiful. As the company says, these pieces “were acclaimed masterpieces in their time.”
The company incorporated in 1850, offering a wide range of products such as artillery fuses, weapons, lamps, and even camera plates – not to mention supplying the United States Mint with blank coins. It established its Clarkesville, Georgia plant in 1957, which became its main manufacturing plant after the acquisition of the DOT® industrial fasteners line in 1991.
The company’s steady growth was given a new impetus in 1996 with the acquisition of highly reputed brands such as Daudé of France, the PCI Group from Massachusetts, and Rhode Island and Canada’s RAU Fasteners – fabricators of the very popular snap fastener brand, Klikit.
In 1997, the company exchanged Connecticut for Georgia, relocating its corporate headquarters to Clarkesville. The year 2006 saw the re-introduction of the Scovill zipper. These had been a great favorite amongst designers in years gone by, as they are today on Pinterest, with images of vintage packets of zippers and snaps for dolls’ clothes.
Change came again in October 2014, when Scovill Fasteners became part of the Japanese company Morito Co., Ltd., an international manufacturer and distributor of clothing fasteners and other products such as automobile components and camera cases. With this integration comes access to a global network of expertise and specialized plastic and elastic products that allow the company to supply even more discerning clients across an even greater spectrum of industries.
Scovill began with its core product – buttons – and soon added snaps upon their invention. Additional products came to be produced and innovated to serve evolving consumer needs; however, in the past 25 years or so the company has gotten back to its roots of buttons, snaps, and other fasteners, more deeply developing and focusing on this core strength.
Thanks to continuous innovation and the fruitful collaboration of its partners, this legacy company has become one to watch. It is presently integrating its U.S. and Hong Kong operations with other subsidiaries of its parent company.
“We began the official integration process this year,” April says. “As we move forward with Morito, we will continue to integrate our operations in a way that benefits the customer – not only with new product lines, but also through our service and expanding our global reach.”
With its drive to innovate and grow despite its assured position at the top of the industry, in Scovill Fasteners we see a company for which an exciting future seems almost inevitable.