About usThe story behind Ziplongs®

The world's first Ziplongs® saw the light of day a winter afternoon in 2011. The goal that day was not to start a company. The motivation was just that we wanted a Ziplongs® for our own private use. There was nothing else to do than to dig out the sewing machine.

Everyone knows the problem

Sometimes it's too hot for long-johns, and sometimes it's too cold without them.

Shoulder to shoulder on a T-bar in the winter of 2011, Magnus and Jo decided that they wanted to do something about that. Many ideas were thrown out: Velcro, buttons, and other ideas that are so stupid that we don't even want to say them out loud. Magnus suggested that zippers on each side of the legs would do the trick. Jo was sceptical and thought the zippers would be uncomfortable and cold against the skin.

Luckily Magnus was stubborn enough to go through with the idea. He learned how to sew on YouTube, bought a zipper, cut up an old pair of long-johns and sewed on the zippers. Jo witnessed the whole thing sceptically from the other side of the table.

Sceptical turned quickly into blind enthusiasm. The world's first Ziplongs® didn't look good at all, but as soon as Jo put it on he understood how genius Magnus' idea was. It wasn't uncomfortable at all, and did the job well.

"That winter we just had the one Ziplongs®, and fought over it every weekend. On a ski & sail trip to Lofoten, we noticed how jealous our friends were and finally decided that more people had to experience the joy of Ziplongs®."

Long story short, the next steps were to find money, textiles and a producer.

Innovation Norway fixed number 1, the American textile manufacturer, Polartec, number 2 and a random contact in Estonia number 3.

We further developed the prototype with the manufacturer so it was at a higher quality level than what YouTube could teach us. But to convince the designers and manufacturers to move on with the project wasn't easy, not to mention getting it done right. We couldn't look to other brands or manufacturers for inspiration, and the zippers made it hard to find the perfect fit and comfort.

The first batch was actually without wool, and in two different Polartec textiles. We called the first one Ziplongs® Active (we stopped production after two seasons), and the other one Ziplongs® Original. The latter is today called Ziplongs® tech.

"When the first tiny batch of Ziplongs® came to our doorstep in 2012 it was a huge deal, but our plan was still not to conquer the world. Magnus pulled together an amatuer website, and before we knew it we sold our first Ziplongs® to a dude from Setesdalen who was going to cross Greenland. He wasn't the last."

Discovering wool

The year after, we designed the first Ziplongs® made of wool.

That season (2014/2015), Ziplongs® was made in 100% merinoull from Italian Pontetorto. 100% wool is great in many ways, but one of it's challanges is that it isn't as strong as a blend.

The 2015/2016 version of Ziplongs® was our first wool blend. The goal was to develop a "bulletproof" product that could handle a beating. Looking back we see that we went a little too far trying to get it right. Elasticity and fit were compromised in the process.

Big changes

In the winter of 2015/2016, we made a goal to improve everything that we dreamed of improving with our best-seller.

It wasn't an easy task: We ordered over 10 different zippers with different traits, we ordered many different types of wool from different suppliers and we designed many different fits. Put together, we had a ton of variables to experiment with.

With all that in tow, we went to our developer in Estonia and locked ourselves in the factory with a common understanding that we weren't going anywhere before finding the perfect match.

And one Thursday afternoon it clicked. A certain zipper with a certain type of wool blend with a new design was the key to sucess.

The improvements included:

  • Better fit in the waist, thigh and calf
  • Fewer "waves" on the zippersMindre bølger på glidelåsen
  • Softer and more wool in the blend
  • Padded zippers
  • Lighter and smoother zippers from YKK

A big plus was that we could use all of this new information on all our Zipwear™ products.

Award winners

Since then, Ziplongs® have gone on to win many awards and received top scores in reviews around the world. We can't hide the fact that we're pretty proud of that.

And maybe just as important: We have trademarked Ziplongs® so that no one else in the world can call their knock-offs Ziplongs®!

What to do when quality strikes?

Winter of 2016 we received a batch of wool from our supplier in Portugal. When the first products from this exact delivery were sent out of the factory, we were quick to understand that something was wrong. Certain Ziplongs® had weaknesses in the material that made them tear easily. Apparently the wool was weaved with uneven thickness, which made certain areas of the fabric too thin and vulnerable.

Long story short: Many frustrated customers and just as many replacement products later, we switched to a larger and more suitable factory in Lithuania called Utenos. Utenos both makes the textiles and sews the finished product. That means more control and better quality.

If you happen to be one of the people who have experienced this, we will get you a new product on the dot. If you have a torn Ziplongs® hidden in your closet, we encourage you to send an email to support@northernplayground.no, and we'll get you a new product.

The conclusion

While most people in the textile industry "borrow" patterns from each other, we who invent have to do everything ourselves. We can't copy anyone. Even if we have developed concepts that people love, we have to realise that we have had our fair share of hiccups.

Now we are certain that you will love Ziplongs®, and we are always curious as to what you think about it! Shoot us an email at post@northernplayground.no.

Thanks for reading!

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