VELCRO® Brand products are well-loved around the world, adhering and fastening everything from roof panels to diapers, and known for their familiar and reassuring fastening sound. Hook and loop is part of our everyday language and indispensable to our daily lives. It’s omnipresent and is re-invented for new uses on a daily basis.
What has now become an integral part of popular culture, fashion and common home goods, was once invented on serendipity, inspired by a routine hike in the woods. In 1941, Swiss engineer and inventor George de Mestral was intrigued by the burdock burrs that kept sticking to his dog’s fur as they passed by the unique plants.
After years of investigating the burr’s properties, de Mestral translated those affixing and fastening functions into textiles, creating what we now know as “hook-and-loop.” However, the subsequent process of recreating a burr-like product that could be used in daily applications took nearly a decade.
The burdock burr contains hundreds of minuscule “hooks.” Developing a fabric that replicated these hook-shaped extensions proved difficult but de Mestral was determined. While the “loop” textile could be manufactured with relative ease, the hook textile could not be created so quickly. De Mestral eventually invented a device – based on hair clippers used at a barber shop – that could efficiently cut the easy-to-make loops and turn them into hooks.
At the time, cotton was the most commercially available fabric, but it was too weak and thin for the hook-and-loop to provide any true sticking power. During an experiment with various textiles in Lyon, France, de Mestral stumbled upon a Nylon thread that had accidentally become mixed into his fabrics. At that point, he discovered Nylon’s ideal properties – durability and “memory.” It wasn’t until Nylon arrived in the marketplace and that hook-and-loop textiles provided the strong and durable bond that de Mestral envisioned.
After this hurdle had been addressed, De Mestral decided to name his revolutionary invention an amalgam of the French words “Velour” (velvet) and “Crochet” (hook) hence the name of the brand.