After having huge success in Japan with ladies' 'hip-up' underwear that prevents panty ride-up and helps contour sagging buttocks, it's now the men's turn.

Previously unknown for their sartorial elegance or their dedication to getting a firm body, Japan's legion of white-collared salarymen are snapping up "hip-up" underwear that flatters their physique.

An interest in middle-aged dandyism, as the press here puts it, particularly the dress sense of Italian men, has put pressure on middle-aged men seeking a more flattering figure. For an increasing many, with little time for the gym, the answer is hip-up underwear.

According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper about 100 pairs of hip-up and other shape-adjusting underwear are sold at the Takashimaya store in Yokohama a month, compared with between 10 and 20 last year, sales staff said.

Most of the items are priced between 3,000 yen and 4,000 yen and work by tightening around the waist like a girdle and cupping the buttocks like a bra.

By Michael Fitzpatrick.