The Birth of Velcro ® Brand Fasteners
George de Mestral, an engineer in Switzerland, was always interested in new inventions and loved the outdoors. While hunting he often became annoyed with the burrs that would stick to his wool pants as well as his dog’s fur coat. He was also interested in WHY the burrs stuck! He took a few home and studied them beneath a microscope. He quickly realized that it was the many small “hooks” on the burr that caused it to engage with the “loops” inherent in fabric and fur.Mestral decided that nature’s “fastener” could easily be turned into something that ordinary people could use as an everyday product. He took it to a friend, Alfred Gonet, who was very interested in Mestral’s idea.
Mestral went to Lyon, France to discuss the idea with textile experts. The experts in fabric liked the idea of this fastener but were not positive that it would work. However, one of the experts also had the inventor curiosity inherent in Mestral’s personality. This weaver made two narrow tapes that fastened as strong as the burr to wool when touched together.
In 1951, Mestral applied for a patent in Switzerland. In 1952, Mestral began a company called Velcro ® Brand Fasteners S.A. in Switzerland with the help of a company called Gonet & Co.. Mestral received additional patents in Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, France, England, Canada and the USA. The patent covered “the invention and fabrication of special napped piles of man-made material at least some of these loops having the means of hooking near their ends.”
Unfortunately, George de Mestral would not reap the rewards of this future billion dollar enterprise of Hook & Loop. He sold the patent rights for a mere $50,000.