While we’ve covered a number of products already that originate from my home country Germany or other parts nearby in Europe, today’s onesie of the day has traveled much further – from China, to be exact – yet in a way has quickly become a “German Classic” in its own right ever since everybody’s favorite diaper dealer SaveExpress added it to their lineup. We are going to talk about the AO 1021 which they are selling under their Airoliver label, which incidentally was their original company name that still exists as a subsidy today.
Before we delve into the details, let me preface this with a warning: This article is exclusively talking about the 1021 series, not any of the other diaper suit/ onesie products you may also find on their website. If you intend to get one of those, you will have to work things out on your own, I’m afraid. Things like sizes and fit may be completely different, after all.
Colors and Patterns
At the time of writing this article there are like 20 different patterns for this product and only a few are illustrated in the images based on what I have in my clothing cabinet. It would simply be financially impossible for me to buy them all nor are all patterns relevant. In my mind I still have my eye on a few of them like that polka dot pattern with dots in different colors and light green seam liners that popped up only recently, but it’s an open question if I will ever get them for a number of reasons you will find out about later.
The basic product design is always the same – white textile, the patterns printed on using sublimation/ inkjet printing and contrasting seam lining ribbons, matching a predominant color of the pattern where relevant. That’s in itself okay, but the real issue is of course with the selection of patterns. To cut to the point: Most of them aren’t that great in my opinion.
One of the problems is the choice of subjects to begin with. These products coming out of some Chinese mega-factory many of the designs have a definite Asian touch and influence and as a result some of the shapes and colors used feel odd compared to a more traditional European aesthetic. It also stands to note that this often makes things look very girly due to lots of light rose tones and other pastel colors being involved. That’s okay if you are into that a bit, it’s just not really my thing, give or take the occasional cute design one can’t resist.
My designer niggles aside, which are a matter of personal taste and preference, anyway, the bigger issue for me is that many of the patterns feel rather crammed and – dare I say it – sloppily placed. Some of them are scaled so tiny that you can’t help but get the impression the designer was paid by the square inch and how many flowers, birds and other shapes he can squeeze in. That’s almost tragic, as funny enough some of those things would actually look pretty decent had they chosen the opposite direction and made them reasonably large, more loosely spaced and with different colors.
It also wouldn’t hurt if some of the patterns would be a lot less perpendicularly arranged. As a graphics design person I feel that some fundamental principles like the Golden Ratio or certain rules of angles like they are commonly applied in traditional painting have totally eluded whoever cobbled those patterns together. There’s really nothing worse than an all too obvious repetition of some tiling.
Overall the patterns are a bit odd. That’s terrible to say, but I deem most of them unsuitable for wearing anywhere else than at home. Even the versions with the stripes could look quite weird and potentially embarrassing in public. It’s really a case of “If only they had…”. With a little more thought poured into it and some better decisions on the colors I feel this would work better.
Size and Fit
One of the reasons I started this series is the eternal struggle over finding the right size and this product is a good example how way off Asian sizes can be (a future article will show that this can be even more whacked out). All examples in this article are in size XL. I also had one in L quite some time ago (a white with blue borders if you must know), which I long have gifted to a much skinnier guy because it was too small for me. It was just impossible to get the buttons to close.
With those bits of info dropped into your laps you might already guess that this is once more a case of a tight fit. That’s what I prefer, anyway, but I would just love to one day a size L product that really deserves this attribution and fits me off the bat. Since I’m already at XL, the potential to go further up is limited. There are a XXL (2XL) and a XXXL (3XL) version, but I would predict that a 1.95 meter person would exhaust those options easily and then it’s end of the line. My usual disclaimer of “My barrel tummy costs me half a size.” of course applies, too, so there may be some headroom left.
On the downward scale things go as far as an S and looking at the measurements table this should fit people around the 1.55 meters height mark if they aren’t too cuddly or bear-ish, if you get my meaning. In light of my experiences with the size L I would be wary with an M as well. It may not fit a 1.70 meters person like it actually should. In the end you have to try, but consider yourselves warned. To me it definitely appears like the sizes are always 10 centimeters body height short – quite literally.
The actual fit is okay, even if the proportions of the product appear a bit odd. Due to having to use a larger size it feels rather square and even in my case there’s still a bit of room left on the main trunk. The sleeves on the other hand are a relatively tight fit, which I attribute to the way they are tailored and sown. This could definitely be a bit better, but more on that further down.
The leg holes have this interesting curvature which hints at the main parts going quite a bit down, offering good coverage of your posterior parts as well as almost fully hiding your diaper. Depending on what kind of diapers you use the broad flap section can be a bit disadvantageous at times, since it tends to absorb sweat and moisture vapors when it sits too deeply in the skin folds in your groin area. Due to osmotic effects it may in fact also “suck out” more moisture from a diaper with breathable surfaces, building up an undesirable stench that may make you want to change your onesie immediately.
Diaper fixation is a bit of a mixed bag for me due to the various circumstances. On a basic level this will do just fine, but if you are a victim of those triple-damned sizing issues and caught halfway between fire and flood things get a bit more complicated. For the most part these stem from the cloth itself. It is a very plain, basic cotton textile which you usually would probably only use for T-shirts. That being the case, it doesn’t offer much in the way of being particularly stretchy or adaptable. Once it has worn out, it really has worn out and won’t snap back into its original shape fresh like when fresh out of the bag.
In addition to the normal loss of shape things get even more annoying if it really gets soaked for whatever reason. In such a situation the cloth loses almost all tension and resilience and to make things worse, the many tiny manufacturing issues (more below) then add up and reveal the true nature of the product. Even the seam ribbons don’t help much here.
The button placement is kind of okay, but doesn’t feel like someone cared much, either. It is pretty uneven and this becomes even more apparent if you put up different examples of this onesie side by side. It’s literally like the are merely eyeballing this. One of the undesirable side effects of this approach is that the whole button row tends to be a bit too far left or too far right on some models, resulting in a somewhat crooked fit in this area. To be fair, though, the shifts in position are only a few millimeters, so not all is lost.
What is really disconcerting is how the buttons (and in turn the claws they are held with) are hammered in at the very edge of the seam ribbons, producing those very visible indentations. On one of my examples they clearly missed the ribbon and as a result the prong of the back ring caused a whole in the tissue which due to the stress when wearing has now turned into a loose thread. It’s not the end of the world, but not nice, either, and could have been easily avoided.
The buttons themselves are the usual 9 mm standard and hold nicely even if there are “only” four. Having five like on the Kiddo seemed a bit excessive, anyway. On the other hand I’d gladly trade those in if they were better quality. The buttons deteriorate noticeably in relatively short time. First they get dull after a few washes and then the chrome plating comes off entirely, revealing the brass material. If you don’t use your onesie regularly and thus also wash it as often this could turn into nasty black stains when the copper part of the material oxidizes.
Materials and Manufacturing Quality
I’ve said quite a bit in the previous chapters already, so a quick recap should suffice. From the selection of the cloth to the issues with the buttons this product has “cheap” written all over it. This line of thinking continues with the way it’s put together.
It is evident from the images that not too much thought is given how the patterns line up when the separate pieces are sewn together nor how multiple layers of textile may form undesirable thick bulges where they meet. The sleeves are one such area, hence my concerns earlier about them being perhaps a bit too tight.
The seams don’t fare that well, either. Many of them are uneven and all too clearly stitched in rapid fire mode. Even some of the edge ribbons already curl up and the less said about the “China twist”, the better. Really every single piece I have of these is warped in some way which makes folding them cleanly for stowage an exercise. Trying to spread them out evenly for photographing therefore wasn’t as simple, either.
Pricing and Availability
Since SaveExpress is a reasonably big outlet that has lots of storage space you can be reasonably sure that a handful of prints are available at any given time with this model. Conversely you should be able to find something in any size, though the two factors might not always work out in all combinations. It’s quite possible that your favorite pattern may not come in your size and vice versa.
The bad news here is, that it can take forever before everything is back in stock, should they really run out. It simply takes a while for those containers from China to arrive and based on my experiences at SaveExpress they only ever re-order at the last minute and if there is a large enough number of back orders to justify the cost for transport and storage.
The pricing follows a “one for all” approach and is firmly pinned at 19.99 Euros a piece for every size and every design. Depending on what your actual size is that could be a bargain or a more costly proposition than what you pay elsewhere.
Unfortunately this is a rather hum-ho product. While it does the trick, the quality issues are way too obvious and combined with the odd selection of designs and colors the practical use is limited. You can wear it at home or secretly as an undershirt, but aside from two or three patterns perhaps I can’t imagine using this onesie openly as a T-shirt substitute.
In my heart I therefore already have kinda decided that I’d rather focus on other products and spend a few bucks more if and when the time comes to get replacements by the time my current ones are just a bunch of old rags. The only reason to get another one of the AO 1021 models would be an extraordinary pattern that I can’t resist or some problem makes it difficult to obtain stuff from other vendors in a timely manner.