Research carried out by Japanese lingerie manufacturer and marketer Wacoal Corporation on body shape and posture has led to the development of new undergarments that firm up muscles and change the shape of the wearers' body.

Speaking at the first International Lingerie Forum held recently at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Mr Oyama Makoto of Wacoal described the work carried out at the company's Human Science Research Centre (HSRC), whose mission is to help women "be more beautiful, more healthy and more comfortable".

Wacoal's research and development on Shape has involved measuring 100 points on the body of 1,000 women per year, generating data on size and 3-D form.

Over the years the company has collected data for 38,000 people, and has monitored the body and posture changes of young girls growing to adulthood and women throughout pregnancy to post delivery.

From this R&D Wacoal has developed a Shakki-to-bra that gently supports the rib cage from the sides and can help wearers achieve a good posture.

Thin but stretchable material placed on the sides of the bra cup and the shoulder straps lift the breasts from the centre of the lower bra hem. The shoulder straps and the side sheets support the rib cage, which helps lift the breasts and improve posture.

Wacoal's Human Science Research Centre also carried out Motion research, which identified two types of walking: actively using the hip muscles or more knee bending.

When walking with the use of hip muscles extends the front and back leg muscles more than the knee bending gait and the buttocks muscles are tightened, making them firmer and the leg muscles leaner and stronger.

A cross structure Hip Walker panty was developed which puts tension on the muscles at the front of the thighs, helping to lift the hips and make the walking steps longer.

The company says that by wearing the panties for five days a week for one month, and taking more than 6,000 steps a day, the buttocks are visibly lifted and more rounded.

By Vicky Sung.