Unisex swimsuits that were piloted last year are making such a splash that they’re now available for anyone to buy.

In Japan, most grade schools are equipped with a pool where students learn how to become strong swimmers as part of their P.E. curriculum. While that’s an incredibly important life skill to learn, it’s easy to recognize that swimming requires a different outfit from the typical gym clothes as part of a school uniform–some kind of a standard, school-approved (navy in color) swimsuit, to be exact.

Last summer, school swimwear provider Footmark released Japan’s first genderless, two-piece school swimsuits for adoption by schools. Three public junior high schools in Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures piloted them last academic year, giving students the option to purchase these new ones or the typical ones used up until then. At one of the schools, roughly half of the student population elected to wear the genderless ones. For this new academic year (which generally begins in April in Japan), over 200 schools are already considering adopting them as well.

▼ The new genderless school swimsuits

Footmark’s line of genderless swimsuits was originally conceived of four to five years ago when the company received a call from a student who was conflicted about whether to order a male or female swimsuit based on their evolving gender identity. Company representatives also noted a time when a male student expressed wishing that more of his skin was covered during a joint design session with junior high school students. More students have voiced that they have skin conditions or scars from surgeries that they’d rather not display, while others are just self-conscious about wearing swimsuits in general.

In addition to the non-formfitting, unisex design, the swimsuits feature built-in UV protection and are fully customizable, with subtle pockets built-in to fill out any desired areas.

▼ Specs of the swimsuits

Zipper guards and other fine details ensure that there will be no mishaps in the water and the two parts of the swimsuit will stay safely together.

▼ Handy loops to tie the two pieces together

The following are comments from students and teachers who piloted the new swimsuits last academic year:

“I was able to focus on the swimming lesson without being self-conscious about my body.”
“The new suit actually made it easier to swim.”
“It makes it easier to hold class even when the weather’s getting a little chillier.”
“On a scale of 1 to 5, I’d give it a 4 or a 5!”
“I was glad to be able to cover my skin and body hair as well as not get burned as much.”

Based on the encouraging feedback so far, Footmark also opened sales to the general public on April 19 through Footmark’s online shop or Rakuten. They’re currently retailing for 6,710-7,150 yen (US$50.00-$53.29) and are being offered in ten different sizes.

Truthfully, we only wish that we’d gotten this news sooner, before a good chunk of our team went to a press conference dressed with even less coverage.

Source: PR Times via Otakomu
Images: PR Times
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