News from the Locarno Festival

Story Of a Zip


Ticinomoda (www.ticinomoda.ch), the association which gathers the more important fashion societies in our Canton helping them to develop their businesses, has more than 40 associated companies. Many of their stories could be chosen by one of the several directors who has come to Locarno on those days, and we are sure they could do a great movie. Do you want an example, set in Ticino from the first years of existence? Let's pick the Rirì's one and let's go back to more than ninety years ago.

The year's 1923: Martin Othmar Winterhalter, a Swiss jurist, purchases the patent of a handcrafted zip for Europe and he perfects it, taking inspiration from the shape of the teeth – concave and convex, which in German is “rille und rippe”, hence the acronym Riri. Well, it is going to be something ingenious and legendary at the same time. The company has immediately success and in 1936 it moves to Mendrisio, near the Italian borders. Since the Fifties the zips are also made of plastic, in 1979 a new plant is opened in Mendrisio and more than 20 million zip fasteners are produced per year and in 2003 Riri wins the America's Cup Challenge with Alinghi – not bad for a boat developed and built in our country, without any sea!

Riri is the perfect demonstration of how something so small can have a huge influence on our habits, costumes and clothing all around the world. And it is not surprising to discover that it chose to associate to Ticinomoda: thanks to its help, the company which is still based in Mendrisio will grow and develop further, approaching to celebrate its first 100 years of story in 2023.


Mattia Bertoldi

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