It's no wonder that over half of children's shoes use VELCRO®, or "hook and loop" closures. Why? They're easy, reusable, strong, reliable, and never jam -- as close to perfect as anything can be for getting kids to school on time.
The VELCRO® fastening system, generically known as "hook and loop" or "touch fastener" has literally changed the way we live. The story of how VELCRO® was invented makes a great invention story to tell your kids.
It started in 1941 with a hike in the woods. George de Mestral, an engineer and inventor, went on a hunting trip with his dog in the Swiss Alps. Upon his return, Mestral and his dog were covered in burrs that were very difficult to remove. Mestral was intrigued by the stickiness of the burrs. Breaking out his microscope, he observed the burrs were covered with tiny little hooks that lodged onto fur or fabric. In nature, these little hooks attach to animals who help spread the burdock seeds. In Mestral's world, after first giving him a minor headache, he quickly saw the potential of the strong little hooks as the basis for a re-usable fastener with huge commercial appeal.
It took Mestral over ten years to figure out how to weave a synthetic version of the burrs. In 1955, he applied for a patent and named his invention VELCRO® by combining the first syllables of the French words velours (loop) and crochet (hook).
NASA Astronauts, scuba divers and the ski industry adopted the technology first. Who knows if Mr. Mestral had kids in mind when he brainstormed his invention. But from shoes, to backpacks, clothes and outerwear, a hook and loop fastener is the perfect closure system for kids and parents.
Although the original patent has expired, and there are many imitators, Velcro Industries is still the world’s leading supplier of hook and loop fasteners, providing fastening solutions for businesses and consumers throughout the world.