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Zipper Binders: Everything You Need To Know

Zipper Binders: Everything You Need To Know

Pictured: A purple front zipper on an Outer Senshi binder.

Hello, shapeshifters! We get a lot of questions about our zipper binders, so rather than bulk up the FAQ, here they are in a blog post. If you have a question about zippers that isn’t answered here, please do leave a comment below!

Q: Does adding a zipper affect how well a binder works?

A: Nope! Binders with zippers work exactly as well as binders without. If the binder fits correctly, a closed zipper functions in the same way as a sewn seam.

 (Image: Last week’s stack of binders with  side zippers . Though it may look different on the hangar or in the drawer, a good zipper should lie flat to the body when worn.) (Image: Last week’s stack of binders with side zippers . Though it may look different on the hangar or in the drawer, a good zipper should lie flat to the body when worn.)

Q: I’ve heard on the internet that binders that use zippers or clasps can be really dangerous. Is it true?

A: This is hearsay based on correlation! It’s a myth.

Now, this myth came about because a binder company popular in the late 00’s was noted both for its zippers and its tendency to leave the wearers very short of breath. Sometimes with bonus injury! I started binding in 2011, and they were still quite popular then. As a result, vigilant trans and gender nonconforming folks warned each other: “don’t buy the binders with zippers! They’re not good for you!”

Approximately two reblog chains on Tumblr later, this warning became, “all binders with zippers are dangerous!” This is just how the internet works, and it isn’t really anyone’s fault, so don’t feel bad if you used to spread this tip around. It was based in a genuine desire for folks like us to be safe.

The thing is, it’s just not true. Zippers do not affect binding quality; material and fit are the important factors there. A zipper will not change the fit, and it doesn’t place extra tension on any stretch fabric. It interrupts the horizontal stretch of the fabric just like a seam does.

If anything, binders with zippers can be safer for a lot of folks, because they come with the option of a quick release. When you’ve had a long day, if you develop a cramp, or if anything else goes wrong, the ability to reach under your shirt and unzip can have a hugely positive impact in your binding experience.

(Image: A custom print binder in Starry Night Sky with a front zipper. All fabric on this binder will stretch around the body, just as it would without a zipper in it.)

Q: Can my zipper binder have a stiff insert in it?

A: Yes! Side zipper and back zipper binders can include a stiff insert, as pictured below. However, a front zipper binder cannot. If you’re aiming for maximum-strength flattening, I recommend avoiding a front zipper for this reason.

(Image: A Madrone skin-tone binder with a stiff insert and a side zipper. We were so excited when we became able to combine these! It’s all thanks to Magnus, our trusty needle-feed machine.)

Q: Can I swim in my zipper binder? Can I wash it? Will the zipper get rusty?

A: Yes, you totally can. The zipper is molded plastic; the clasp is nickel. Neither will rust. We wholeheartedly endorse washing your binder.

Note: If you’re allergic to nickel or concerned about a reaction, let us know! The black clasps are coated, so they’ll be your best option.

(Image: An Inner Senshi space binder with a yellow front zipper, close-up on the metal clasp and top stops. Did you know you can request a colored zipper in your order notes?)

Q: How do the different zippers feel? Which zipper position would be right for me?

A: This one’s very person-dependent! Some folks are sensitive to the whole length, some folks are very conscious of where the zipper pull sits against the skin, and many don’t feel the zipper or its pull at all.

I recommend side zippers if you’re new to binding, if you know you’ll need a stiff insert, or if you like to wear fitted shirts and don’t want a zipper to show through. Note: a side zip can be pulled up in front, using the twist-around method illustrated below.

Front zippers are better for folks with limited shoulder mobility, those who want the quickest possible release, or those who find they’re very sensitive to small changes in texture at the underarm area. They’re the least noticeable in texture, because they usually float a little off the chest. They will usually show through a tight shirt.

Back zippers are useful for certain costumes and a variety of specialty purposes.

(Image: An instructional comic showing how to put on a side-zipper binder for easiest wear. By the very talented Al Neun!)

Q: The zipper on my binder starts to open up on its own while I’m wearing it. Any suggestions?

A: There’s a few possible reasons for this! First and most likely, your binder may be too tight! Get in touch with us if you’d like to try a re-size.

Second, if the top of a side zipper is rubbing against your arm as you move around, your armholes may be too high up. We can adjust to open them up, too.

Finally, make sure your zipper pull is down flat against the zipper when it’s closed, and not sticking out or folded up.

(Image: A week’s stack of front zippers, topped by the thrilling pink/silver holo Megalodon.)

Q: Hang on, how do I buy one?

A: Oh hey, thanks for asking! There's an option to select a zipper in every binder and sports bra product page, under Customize Your Binder. Click one of those, and the price will be added automatically!