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Steve Levenstein, InventorSpot: Adult Diapers Come Out of the Closet in Japan

Adult Diapers Come Out of the Closet in Japan
by Steve Levenstein, undated


Finally found disposable diapers that sort of fit. Up to this point, have been using diapers the size of a wet queen-style blanket held together with post-it notes, requirung me to take my pants off (instead of just down) when i’m ready for a new pair. So count me out.


What better way to showcase the needs of Japan’s rapidly aging population then an adult diaper fashion show? The well-attended event was organized in part by the Aging Lifestyle Research Center and featured diaper-wearing models walking the catwalk to the beat of ’80s hits like “Relax”, by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Relaxing – and getting comfortable with the idea of adult diapers – was the whole point of the show. Diapers are something that people don’t want to look at,” stated Kiyoko Hamada of the ALRC, “but if you make them attractive, then people can learn about them more easily.” 

It seems that quite a few of Japan’s greying demographic not only are aware of adult diapers, they’re making them part of their lifestyle. Over 20 percent of Japanese are over 65 and estimates published by the United Nations forecast the number of centenarians in the country to reach 1 million by the year 2050. As a market sector, the elderly have special needs and growing buying power.

According to Japan’s leading business newspaper, the Nikkei, sales of the protective undergarments have doubled over the past decade to 52.5 billion yen or $500 million annually. That’s one big load of nappies!

The show wasn’t all fun & games, however, as the audience of several hundred included caregivers, nursing home workers, doctors and manufacturers representatives. The models, all volunteers, held up numbers to show which model of adult diaper they wore and the audience was treated to a, er, flood of information on what made one style different from another.

“It was great to see so many different types of diapers all in one showing. I learned a lot,”enthused 26-year-old nursing home caretaker Aya Habuka. “This is the first time that diapers are being considered as fashion.” Who’s going to argue with her? (via Tokyomango and IHT)

Steve Levenstein

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