The same customizable, non-formfitting design is an option for an increasing number of students who don’t want to focus on gender in P.E. class. 

Footmark, a leading provider of school swimwear and swimming caps in Japan, has begun offering Japan’s first genderless, two-piece school swimwear with customizable components. While swimwear that hides bodylines and comes in upper and lower parts has been on the market for a while, this is the first time that a common design regardless of gender which can be adapted for individual use has been an option. Three schools have plans to adopt it for use this year while ten schools are currently considering it for next year. Many of these schools seem primed to offer a choice between the traditional swimwear they’ve used until now and the new genderless swimwear as well.

The new swimwear comes in the standard navy blue color used at schools throughout the country. The upper half features long sleeves for added UV protection and the lower half is composed of relaxed shorts. With a slow but increasing focus in Japan on the needs of students who identify across a diverse gender spectrum, the elements were designed to make all students feel more comfortable in their own skin in their P.E. swimming classes. In particular, it eliminates the need for those who identify as a particular gender but present differently to have to choose between the traditional male or female versions.

In addition, the pattern and material used in the swimwear can be finely adjusted for specific areas of the body that may differ between individuals, such as the chest, waist, and buttocks, to maintain its relaxed silhouette. Furthermore, subtle pockets are incorporated into the inner lining of different areas for students who may want to insert some additional padding. There’s even a guard attached to the zipper to prevent it from coming undone while exercising.

The lower half uses fabric that doesn’t readily cling to skin and includes built-in underwear. Clever holes with passages on the left and right sides of the shorts also prevent them from excessive billowing when in the water.

This new genderless swimwear development is significant because while some Japanese schools have begun to implement gender-based choices within their standard school uniforms, the design of school swimwear has remained firmly divided by gender from the Showa era (1926-1989) into the current Reiwa era (2019-present). The evolution of Japanese school swimwear in general can be viewed in the below diagram, which shows the progression of both male and female swimsuits from a one-piece design to a two-piece ensemble and the gradual elongating of the bottoms inseam of male swimsuits.

▼ Evolution of school swimwear from the 1970s through the present (female designs on top, male designs on bottom)

Footmark’s genderless swimwear is set to retail for between 6,380 to 6,820 yen (US$47.50-$50.75) and is available in ten sizes. For any adults who might be feeling nostalgic about their own school swimsuit days of youth, we might also recommend checking out these grown-up versions of the traditional swimwear as well.

Source, images: PR Times
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