Genderless school swimwear drawing attention

Courtesy of Footmark Corp. / Jiji Press
Genderless school swimwear

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Genderless school swimwear developed by a Tokyo company is attracting attention amid growing moves to introduce a gender-neutral policy in education in Japan.

The unisex product, launched in June by Footmark Corp., is a set of a navy blue long-sleeved jacket and half pants, having roomy chest and waist areas to make differences in body shape between men and women less noticeable.

“We’ve been receiving inquiries in recent years from an increasing number of schools about swimwear that can meet demand from sexual minority students,” said Reiko Sano, who is in charge of product development at the company.

In a product design project conducted with junior high school students in 2015, a male student proposed swimwear that can cover areas down to the ankles, according to Sano.

“I thought that students may be hesitant to show their skin, regardless of gender,” she said.

This year, three public schools in Tokyo and Hyogo Prefecture, introduced the genderless swimwear to allow their students to choose between the new product and conventional swimwear.

The unisex swimwear was picked by about half of students in a grade at a school.

More than 100 schools are considering introducing the product next year. The company plans to sell it for the general public online.

“If some students hate swimming classes due to swimwear, we hope that the genderless product can encourage them to enjoy swimming,” Sano said.