Garment Closure

A fly opening includes two overlapping fabric panels, a two-part magnetic closure, and a mechanical catch. The two overlapping fabric panels define an elongate aperture in the garment between the panels. A two-part magnetic closure includes a first magnetic part attached to one of the panels within the overlap region, and a second magnetically-responsive part attached to the other the panel. The first and second magnetic parts are positioned such that when the parts are magnetically connected, the panels are held together in face-to-face abutment. The mechanical catch includes cooperating catch portions located on each of the panels, and arranged to resist or prevent relative movement of the fabric portions in a direction parallel to their plane of abutment and perpendicular to the elongate aperture.

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Description

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This U.S. patent application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(a-d) to U.K. Application 1221453.2, filed on Nov. 29, 2012, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This disclosure relates to fly openings for garments, and especially such openings for men's garments that are intended to be worn next to the skin. The fly openings are particularly suitable for use in underwear, such as men's boxer shorts. The fly openings are especially suitable for use in garments worn next to the skin, and where no further outer garment is usually worn. Examples of this include sleepwear such as pajamas and loungewear such as lounge trousers and lounge shorts.

BACKGROUND

Undergarments designed for men often have an opening at the groin area to facilitate access to the penis (e.g. for urination) without the need to remove or pull down the undergarment. This opening usually takes the form of an elongate slot between two overlapping fabric panels. In order to preserve the modesty of the user, undergarments are often designed to prevent inadvertent opening or gaping of the garment that might result from e.g. movement of the user.

In some designs of underwear (typically referred to as “briefs” in the UK market), the fabric overlap is relatively large and is offset to one side of the body. As a result of the large overlap, the offset, and often the use of relatively elastic materials, no further closure is required to the opening. However, some users find the use of this offset opening uncomfortable, and prefer a more centralized opening.

In other garments, such as boxer shorts or boxer briefs, the elongate opening in the groin area is usually located approximately centrally in the garment, making its use more convenient. In some designs, referred to as an “open fly” design, no further closure is applied to the opening. This does make access though the opening to the interior of the garment convenient, but does nothing to prevent inadvertent opening of the garment should tension be applied to the fabric either side of the opening. To make such garments more secure, a button fastening is often provided to releasably secure the overlapping fabric panels together.

There is another class of garments that pose similar challenges to the designer: garments that are designed to be worn next to the skin, but (unlike in the case of underwear) where no further outer-garment is usually worn on top. Garments that fall into this class include pajamas, and loungewear, such as lounge shorts and lounge trousers. Because they are worn directly next to the skin, the standard fly closure of a zip fastener is not employed due to the risk of injury through catching sensitive skin in the zip mechanism. However, because no further outer clothing is to be worn, it is even more important that some kind of closure is provided to the usually centrally-located opening to prevent inadvertent opening of the garment and ensuing embarrassment to the user. Pajamas and loungewear often, therefore, are also fitted with buttons to the fly opening.

The opening and closing of such button fastenings on underwear, pajamas and the like can, however, be difficult, especially in the context of their use: access might be required during the night, in the dark and, even in the light, it might be socially unacceptable to stare closely at one's groin area when opening the fly, e.g., in a public lavatory—as a result, the button closure often needs to be operated by touch alone. In other cases, a user might have reduced dexterity in their fingers either though age or infirmity or simply because they have cold hands, thereby increasing the difficulty of operating a button fly.

A number of solutions have been proposed to this problem, such as the use of press-studs, “hook-and-loop” closures (such as that sold under the Registered Trade Mark Velcro®) and magnetic fasteners, such as that described in U.S. Patent Application 2009/0320184 in the name of Schaefer.

Press-studs have the same problems of use as buttons in that they are difficult to operate without high levels of dexterity. Furthermore, they often require considerable closing pressure in order to make a connection and it is difficult to apply this to both sides of the closure in the context of a fly closure.

Hook and loop closures are at first thought an appealing solution, but suffer from the material generally having poor drape characteristics, and the hook elements are prone to pick up fluff from other garments.

Both hook and loop closures and press-studs also suffer from a common disadvantage in the context of relatively delicate or fine clothing such as underwear, sleepwear or loungewear: both of these fastenings typically result in a strong connection being formed and, when the connection is pulled apart, this tends to put undue stress pressure on the core fabric of the garment with consequent risk of damage to the fabric or to the material used to affix the fastener to the fabric.

Magnetic closures exhibit the problem that they are easily pulled apart when tension is applied to the fabric during normal use, allowing the fly opening to be inadvertently pulled apart leading to unwanted and potentially embarrassing exposure.

SUMMARY

One aspect of the disclosure provides a fly opening for a garment. The fly opening includes two overlapping fabric panels, a two-part magnetic closure, and a mechanical catch. The two overlapping fabric panels define an elongate aperture in the garment between the panels. The two-part magnetic closure includes a first magnetic part attached to one of the panels within the overlap region, and a second magnetically-responsive part attached to the other panel. The first and second parts are positioned such that when the parts are magnetically connected, the panels are held together in face-to-face abutment. The mechanical catch includes cooperating catch portions located on each of the panels, and arranged to resist or prevent relative movement of the fabric portions in a direction parallel to their plane of abutment and perpendicular to the elongate aperture. In some examples, the fly opening as is incorporated in pajamas, undergarments or loungewear.

Implementations of the disclosure may include one or more of the following features. In some implementations, the magnetic and magnetically-responsive parts of the magnetic closure serve to hold the regions of overlapping fabric together whilst the mechanical catch serves to prevent the magnets from slipping apart (and thereby leading to opening of the fly) in the face of tension to the fabric that might be encountered when for example a user sits down. By comparison to hook and loop closures or press-studs, choice of appropriate magnet strength can be made to provide adequate closure strength whilst allowing the closure to be unfastened without damage to the fabric or the attachment means.

In some examples, each catch portion is integral with a part of the two-part magnetic closure. In this way, not only are manufacturing costs reduced, but magnetic interaction of the two parts of the magnetic closure serves to more positively align the cooperating catch portions of the mechanical catch. In this way the closure is effectively “self-seeking”, and largely automatic.

In some implementations, the magnets and/or magnetically-responsive material are completely encased in a waterproof material such as plastics. This allows the garment incorporating the fly closure to be readily washable, and to prevent any contact between the magnets or magnetically-responsive material and a user's skin, thereby eliminating the risk of adverse reactions.

In some implementations, one of the parts of the two-part magnetic closure includes an indent and the other part includes a detent. When the magnets interact to form the closure, the detent enters the indent, thereby creating more accurate alignment of the associated catch portions of the mechanical catch.

In some examples, the magnetic closure and the magnetic catch are arranged such that operation of the magnetic closure urges the catch portions of the mechanical catch into operative alignment, again making the closure “self-seeking” and effectively automatic.

In some implementations, the parts of the magnetic closure and the catch portions are attached to textile strips. The textile strips in turn are attached to corresponding panel portions. This configuration has a number of advantages. Firstly, manufacturing costs can be reduced, as the closure portions may be attached to a length of tape in a semi-automated fashion, and then used in the manufacturing process for the garments. Secondly, by constructing the garment in this fashion, the rear faces of the closures where they are connected to the tape are hidden when the tape is connected (e.g. by sewing) to the fabric panels. This not only provides a more aesthetically pleasing product, but the delicate skin of a user is protected from chafing against the connection point of the closures. Thirdly, the provision of such a tape reduces the flexibility, or drape, of the garment in the fly closure area, thereby further increasing the extent to which the magnetic closures are automatically aligned with other, so further enhancing the automatic nature of the closure.

In some implementations, the elongate aperture is closed at both ends. By using an aperture that is closed in this way, the overlapping portions of the garment panels are always approximately aligned such that the magnetic closures are opposite each other, thereby further enhancing the automatic nature of the closure.

In some implementations, the elongate aperture is closed at one end and open at the other end, the other end being provided with a fastener. In this way, the fastener may be opened to facilitate donning and doffing of the garment but, once the fastener is closed, the magnetic closures are again aligned with each other, making the closure automatically self-seeking.

In some implementations, the elongate aperture consists of a single straight aperture. In this way, vertical tension applied to the fly opening (i.e. along the line of the elongate aperture), such as might be experienced when the garment is being put on, has the tendency to urge the panels into alignment, thereby bringing the magnetic closures also into operative alignment and further enhancing the automatic, self-seeking nature of the closure. Where alternatively shaped apertures are employed, e.g. an aperture having a L-shaped edge, tension applied along the line of the aperture has the tendency to open the aperture, rather than close it. Also, L-shaped apertures, which have been previously taught in the art, do not cooperate well with a standard, straight zip closure commonly found on trousers, because access to an L-shaped aperture on underwear via a straight aperture on a trouser fly is somewhat limited.

In some implementations, the fly opening has just a single magnetic closure. The inventors have found that one such closure is usually sufficient for the purpose of maintaining the fly closed, and that the provision of multiple closures can lead to one part of a magnetic closure interacting with a non-corresponding part of a second closure.

The details of one or more implementations of the disclosure are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other aspects, features, and advantages will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a pair of boxer shorts incorporating an exemplary fly closure;

FIG. 2 is a close-up view of a fly closure;

FIG. 3 illustrates boxer shorts, pajamas or loungewear incorporating an exemplary fly closure;

FIG. 4 illustrates the garment of FIG. 3 in an open configuration;

FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary fly closure resisting opening in the face of applied tension;

FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate magnetic closures and mechanical catches mounted on a flexible tape;

FIGS. 7A, 7B and 8 illustrate a prior art integral magnetic closure and mechanical catch; and

FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate a magnetic closure and mechanical catch.

Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, in some implementations, a pair of boxer shorts 1a incorporates a fly opening 2. The fly opening 2 includes a first fabric panel 3 and a second overlapping fabric panel 4. The extent of overlap of the two panels 3, 4 is indicated by a dotted line 5. A two-part magnetic closure 11, 12 and associated mechanical catch 13, 14 is positioned between the overlapping panels 3, 4 at a position 6 approximately mid-way along the aperture 7. The elongate aperture 7 (which is more clearly visible in FIG. 2) is formed between the two panels 3, 4 and has the form of a single straight aperture, and is closed at both the top end 8 and the bottom end 9. The top of the boxer shorts is provided with an elastic waistband 10 that serves to close the top end 8 of the aperture 7. Although boxer shorts are used, the fly closure and elastic waistband 10 arrangement may be used for pajamas or loungewear or other suitable garments.

FIG. 2 illustrates the fly opening 2 of FIG. 1. In its open configuration, showing the aperture 7 formed in the garment 1 between the two overlapping panels 3, 4. Located between the overlapping panels 3, 4 is a magnetic closure including a first magnetic part 11 located on the outer surface of one of the fabric panels 3, and opposite a second magnetically-responsive part 12 located on the inner surface of the other fabric panel 4. It will be appreciated that the magnetically-responsive part 12 may be formed e.g. of a ferrous material, such as steel, or may itself be a magnet of opposite polarity to the first magnetic part 11. The mechanical catch portions 13, 14 are integral to the magnetic parts 11, 12, and have the form of a linear, undercut portion 13 of the magnetic part 11 and a protruding hook portion 14 on the magnetically-responsive part 12. Details of such a closure are described below.

In the fly opening 2 of FIG. 2, the magnetic closure parts 11, 12 and the integral mechanical catch parts 13, 14 are fixed to flexible textile tapes 15 that are themselves fixed to the panels 3 and 4. As shown, the tapes 15 are fixed to the panels by means of stitching 16.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, in some implementations, a fly closure 2 is incorporated into a garment lb such as boxer shorts, lounge shorts or pajama bottoms. The leg portion of full-length pajamas or lounge trousers is omitted as shown in the figures. Elements of FIGS. 3 and 4 are numbered the same as corresponding elements of FIGS. 1 and 2. In this implementation, fabric panels 3 and 4 overlap to define an openable aperture 7. The aperture 7 is closed at the lower end 9, but is open at the upper end 8, as is more clearly seen in FIG. 4. The upper end 8 is held against the waistband 10 of the garment 1b by a fastener in the form of two buttons 17 and cooperating button holes 18. The position of the magnetic closure is again illustrated by the dotted marker 6.

FIG. 4 illustrates the garment 1b of FIG. 3 in an open configuration. As before, elements corresponding to like elements in earlier figures are numbered accordingly. The magnetic closure parts 11 and 12 are integral with the mechanical catch portions 13 and 14, again having the form of an undercut region 13 and a raised hook element 14. The magnetic closure parts 11, 12 and the integral mechanical catch parts 13, 14 are fixed to a flexible textile tapes 15 that are themselves fixed to the panels 3 and 4, in this case by means of stitching 16.

Referring to FIG. 5, the action of the fly closure 2 is shown. In some examples, when the fly closure 7 is closed, pulling of the fabric panels 3, 4 in the direction indicated by the arrows 19 does not lead to the aperture 7 opening up to reveal the contents of the garment 1, with ensuing embarrassment, but the mechanical catch parts 13, 14 (not illustrated) act to prevent, or at least resist, separation of the magnetic closure 11, 12 along the line of applied force illustrated by the arrows 19. This is in stark contrast to a simple “magnet-only” closure, where magnetic closure portions can readily be slid apart along their contact faces.

FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate the use of an integral magnetic closure and mechanical catch, applied to a flexible textile tape. Two portions of tape 15 are provided. On one of the tapes 15 a first magnetic part 11 is affixed, and on the other tape 15′ a magnetically-responsive part 12 is affixed. The mechanical catch is provided by means of a linear undercut region 13 of a plastics casing 20 enclosing the magnetic part 11, that cooperates with a protruding linear hook feature 14 molded into the casing 20 of the magnetically-responsive part 12. The undercut and hook features could be provided the other way round, with the undercut 13 being associated with the magnetically-responsive part 12 and the hook feature 14 with the magnetic part 11. In some examples, the surface of the tape 15 has a low-friction finish, such as a satin finish. Not only does this provide added comfort to the user, but assists the magnetic closure in operating in a “self-seeking” manner by allowing the overlapping panels to slide more easily against each other.

Referring to FIGS. 7A, 7B and 8, in some implementations, two parts of a two-part magnetic closure with integral mechanical catch may be used. The closures are shown attached to a flexible textile tape but could be attached directly to the fabric panels of a garment. Examples of such closures can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,163,938 and International Patent Application W02012/093176, which are both hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties.

FIG. 7A illustrates one part of the two-part magnetic closure 11 attached to a tape 15. The part includes a front element 21 and a rear element 22. The two elements are located either side of a flexible textile tape 15, and secured thereto by connecting the elements 21, 22 together with attachment pegs 23 passing through the tape 15. Conveniently, the elements and pegs may be constructed from plastics, and preferably a thermoplastic material so that the elements may be heat-welded onto the tape. A magnet 24 is embedded within one element 22 of the part 11. The other element 21 has a cylindrical indent 25 adjacent the magnet to receive a corresponding cylindrical detent 26 from the other part (illustrated in FIG. 7B). One end of the part is provided with an undercut region 13 that can mate with a hook member 14 on the other part 12 to form the mechanical catch.

FIG. 7B illustrates the second magnetically-responsive part 12 of the magnetic closure, again attached to a tape. This is also formed from a front element 27 and a rear element 28, secured to a flexible textile tape 15 by the use of pegs 23 in an analogous fashion to the first part 11. The front element 27 has an embedded magnet 29 located within a cylindrical detent 26 to provide a magnetic connection with the magnet 24 of the first part 11. At one end of the front element 27 is provided a projecting hook 14 arranged to interact with the undercut portion 13 of the first part 11.

FIG. 8 illustrates the two-part closure of FIGS. 7A and 7B in their closed, engaging configuration. The parts have been illustrated in a slight spaced-apart manner, for clarity. Corresponding features to FIG. 7 have been numbered accordingly. It can be seen that the detent 26 of the second part mates with the indent 25 of the first part, and that the hook 14 of the second part engages with the undercut region 13 of the first part. In this way, the closure features resist or prevent disengagement of the closure in face of tension applied to the closure along the direction indicated by arrows 30.

Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, in some implementations, a magnet 31 is attached to a first panel 3, and a magnetically-responsive element 32 (such as a disc of ferrous metal or a further magnet) is attached to the second panel 4. Also mounted on the first panel 3 is a hook member 33 arranged to engage with a corresponding hook member 34 on the second panel 4. FIG. 10 shows the arrangement of FIG. 9 in cooperating engagement. The magnetic elements 31, 32 serve to hold the panels 3, 4 together and the hook elements 33, 34 serve to prevent the magnets pulling apart in the face of tension applied along the direction of the arrows 30.

A number of implementations have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure. Accordingly, other implementations are within the scope of the following claims.

Claims

1. A fly opening for a garment, the fly opening comprising:

two overlapping fabric panels defining an elongate aperture in the garment between the panels;
a two-part magnetic closure, comprising a first magnetic part attached to one of the panels within the overlap region, and a second magnetically-responsive part attached to the other the panel, the first and second magnetic parts positioned such that when the parts are magnetically connected, the panels are held together in face-to-face abutment; and
a mechanical catch comprising cooperating catch portions located on each of the panels, and arranged to resist or prevent relative movement of the fabric portions in a direction parallel to their plane of abutment and perpendicular to the elongate aperture.

2. The fly opening of claim 1, wherein each catch portion is integral with a part of the two-part magnetic closure.

3. The fly opening of claim 1, wherein one of the parts of the two-part magnetic closure defines an indent and the other part comprises a detent.

4. The fly opening of claim 1, wherein the magnetic closure and the magnetic catch are arranged such that operation of the magnetic closure urges the catch portions of the mechanical catch into operative alignment.

5. The fly opening of claim 1, wherein the parts of the magnetic closure and the catch portions are attached to textile strips, the textile strips being attached to corresponding panel portions.

6. The fly opening of claim 1, wherein the elongate aperture is closed at both ends.

7. The fly opening of claim 1, wherein the elongate aperture is closed at one end and open at the other end, the other end being provided with a fastener.

8. The fly opening of claim 1, wherein the elongate aperture consists of a single straight aperture.

9. The fly opening of claim 1, further comprising a single magnetic closure.

10. A garment comprising:

a leg portion; and
a fly opening comprising: two overlapping fabric panels defining an elongate aperture in the garment between the panels; a two-part magnetic closure, comprising a first magnetic part attached to one of the panels within the overlap region, and a second magnetically-responsive part attached to the other the panel, the first and second parts being positioned such that when the parts are magnetically connected, the panels are held together in face-to-face abutment; and a mechanical catch comprising cooperating catch portions located on each of the panels, and arranged to resist or prevent relative movement of the fabric portions in a direction parallel to their plane of abutment and perpendicular to the elongate aperture.

11. The garment of claim 10, wherein each catch portion is integral with a part of the two-part magnetic closure.

12. The garment of claim 10, wherein one of the parts of the two-part magnetic closure defines an indent and the other part comprises a detent.

13. The garment of claim 10, wherein the magnetic closure and the magnetic catch are arranged such that operation of the magnetic closure urges the catch portions of the mechanical catch into operative alignment.

14. The garment of claim 10, wherein the parts of the magnetic closure and the catch portions are attached to textile strips, the textile strips being attached to corresponding panel portions.

15. The garment of claim 10, wherein the elongate aperture is closed at both ends.

16. The garment of claim 10, wherein the elongate aperture is closed at one end and open at the other end, the other end being provided with a fastener.

17. The garment of claim 10, wherein the elongate aperture consists of a single straight aperture.

18. The garment of claim 10, further comprising a single magnetic closure.

Patent History

Publication number: 20140143935
Type: Application
Filed: Dec 6, 2012
Publication Date: May 29, 2014
Inventor: Alexander Dominic Rose (London)
Application Number: 13/706,829

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Flies (2/234)
International Classification: A41D 27/00 (20060101); A41D 1/06 (20060101);