When they were announced for the first time back then I was all fussy about the ABU Diaper Suits. Then in the usual manner I had to sit things out and wait for them to become available in some form that would be affordable from a European perspective. That then happened rather surprisingly and spontaneously in January this year when I got a few pieces from Nappies’R’Us. Come to think of it, it’s really quite amazing how many onesies I got this year alone, but you really can’t plan for these things and often have to respond rather quickly. The things we do… Anyway, let’s have it!
Colors and Patterns
What made me all giddy like a little schoolboy were of course the colors. Odd as it is, manufacturing companies and vendors totally seem to underestimate and misjudge how relevant some well-selected uniformly colored onesies could be in the grander scheme of things, assuming you really were to use them as drop-in replacements for T-shirts in similar colors. It’s puzzling and frustrating how difficult it is to find acceptable colors that fit that bill. Thankfully the people at ABU seem to have some taste and opted for colors that can easily pass as your everyday undershirt or tee, those colors being the standard white, a dark leaf green, a dark purple, a clear and saturated ultramarine blue, a slightly dull orange, a very dark slate grey the call Midnight Grey and of course my favorite pink.
In addition to this there are currently two patterned prints. Both are space-themed of sorts, with one called Space Penguins and the other Moons and Stars. A third print along those lines will be available soon-ish by ways of the well-known Space diaper print getting the onesie treatment. Finally, the fourth print will be based on the equally popular Little Pawz pattern. It’s a funny coincidence, but as if they knew I would be writing this article this week, only a few days ago they posted a video on Facebook heralding the soon to be arrival of the new prints.
Size and Fit
Oh my, where even to begin? I could quickly say that ABU got the sizes all wrong, but that wouldn’t be of much use to anyone. So let’s elaborate. Of course it’s not entirely unfamiliar. As I have written in my reviews I tend to think that their diapers are rather over-sized at times and so more or less their suits seem a logical, if regrettable continuation of that line of thinking. Yepp, my friends, they are huge. To illustrate my point, allow me to retell the story of my order (luckily) having gone wrong and allowing me to make that assessment.
When I took the plunge I faced the problem of determining the right size like always. The first stumbling block is their sizing charts only referencing inch-based measurements, which is rather useless to us continental Europeans. So it was time to fire up the calculator app, multiply the values and – for lack of a better word – be scared rather shitless upon beholding the large numbers. Since this was rather critical and I knew I wouldn’t get an opportunity to return the product or swap it for a replacement, I cautiously opted for a size M. That in itself is nothing short of remarkable, considering that my regular size would be L and most other products I ordered to date came as XL versions. *phew* The story doesn’t end there, however.
Originally I ordered the pink, orange, green, purple and a blue version. For reasons that despite serious investigation never became clear and shall remain in the dark even today, the blue one was omitted/ forgotten in the package and never found its way to my humble abode. In the e-mail communications with Nappies’R’Us, having the size Ms already at hand for reference I figured it might be a good idea to try an S. The blue one was no longer available in that size and so I ended up with the dark grey version, which quickly became my favorite, anyway. So to spell it out clearly: I ended up with a product that is three or four (!) sizes below my regular one (depending on how you count it) and it still sits rather loosely on my body. I’m still flabbergasted at the prospect and it is simply baffling in all the good and bad ways imaginable.
Based on my experience I’m having a tough time imagining anyone wearing their 3XL size version, which is the largest one on offer. I figure unless you want to jump off very high buildings and use the product as a wingsuit, you have to be something like 2.50 meters in size and/or rather bulky (no offense to anyone) to even come close to exploiting the full size. It’s possible that out there there may be some 2 meter viking whose throwing boulders for fun that may benefit from such sizes, I just have difficulty picturing your average diaper wearing user as that kind of person. This isn’t made easier by the fact that they offer “tall” versions as well with extended upper body lengths where typically two or three extra inches have been added.
With all that said, be extremely careful what you order because ABU have a strict no return policy and that ripples through to any resellers. The only version you can return is the white one, which they recommend to do, anyway, to determine your final size. Ironically smaller people will presumably really struggle to find something that’s right for them. I would even predict that I could wear an XS and it would merely equate the tight fit I’m used to from other products without giving me too much trouble otherwise. If you are under 1.60 meters I guess this is absolutely not for you even if you’re an advocate of saggy/ baggy clothing.
The overall shape is modeled based on a “puffy butt” paradigm, meaning that it offers a lot of room around the nether regions and at the same time will still leave enough cloth to provide a loose fit at any given time. As I already mentioned, even my size S has plenty to spare and that’s considering I’m not the most athletic and slim person in the first place! The big advantage on the other hand of course is that you need not worry about things being to tight around your upper chest and arms. You could probably even wear this for a Yoga lesson without anything ripping due to too much tension in odd poses. ;-) Naturally it also allows for wearing thick diapers even with lots of stuffers.
A feature that enticed me even on first sight were the rubber bands around the legs. One could of course argue this back and forth – on a product that sits more tightly on your body the tension from the cloth alone should take care of keeping things in place. Regardless, though, I find this quite useful as it allows you to pull the onesie over your nappies until everything is really hidden. Makes things a lot less awkward when you’re at home only lightly clad in such a suit and then suddenly your neighbor rings on the door… ;-)
The rest of the properties is as you would expect. Given the loose nature, you can indeed wear it very much like a conventional T-shirt and it will look totally inconspicuous in combination with the right kind of trousers. That is if you’re the kind of person who would normally tuck his shirts into his pants. This is also one of the few times where the lofty shape might in fact yield further benefits as carefully draping the cloth folds over your belt may further the illusion.
When I saw the first photos of this product I kinda immediately knew that while the products would be great in their own way, I shouldn’t be expecting too much anti-gravity support from them. The leg seams with the elastic ribbons of course will act as a stopper, but that’s pretty much it. The rest will never even come close to function similar like suspenders as would be the case with other onesies. With the cloth loosely flapping around this is inherently inevitable, making this once more a case where you possibly can’t avoid some extra fixation pants over your diaper.
The suits are outfitted with four snap buttons, the bigger sizes with five even. They seem to be of high quality. At least on my examples so far none of them shows any signs of wear and abrasion of the silver-y coating. Buttoning them up can at times be a bit tricky especially on the outermost ones, since the elastic seams will naturally exert a certain force and attempt to pull back the rear section. The final position of the whole affair then depends on a) which size you got in the first place and b) how you arranged the leg seams in relation to the rest. It’s slightly unpredictable and may not always be comfortable. If the buttons end up too low and too far between your thighs, you get a rather strong feeling of waddling. Some of you will of course love it, but it’s not my preferred arrangement. In this case I also must give a slight warning: When the buttons are in such a position and you are wearing pants on top they can get caught in rather inconvenient positions and cause skin irritation, pressure marks and abrasions. It is then better to pull them up so they are more at the front of your intimate regions.
Materials and Manufacturing Quality
The ABU Diaper Suits use a rather dense and slightly heavier textile compared to many other products. It’s made from 100% cotton and thus as skin friendly as it gets (unless you suffer from some skin disease or allergy, of course). The solid colored versions a genuinely dyed whereas the patterned versions use the industry standard direct transfer/ printing. To me the cloth feels slightly felt-y, meaning it has a somewhat fluffy texture with the microscopic fibers being palpable. The first few times of wearing this will cause some of those fibers to stick to your sweaty skin, flakes to fall out and lint collecting in your belly button. ;-) It gets better after a while.
The washing instructions once again appear overly cautious. There’s definitely no reason to wash them in cold water. A typical 30 to 40 degrees C program will do just fine and in theory at least the solid colored versions should even withstand 60 degrees C as long as you adhere to sane advise – lots of water, a mild washing agent, gentle tumbling and drying at low temperatures. If you follow these rules, it’s more likely the rubber bands will wear out or something else gives in before you actually have ruined the cloth itself. On their website the ABU people also warn about shrinkage after the first wash, but in light of the generous dimensions this is absolutely negligible. If you bought them too small to begin with, you’re screwed, anyway.
The sewing is executed very well and barely shows any areas that are messed up or have not been properly cleaned. A clear sign of this are the T-connections on the shoulders and arms. Where on other products the often tend to bulge up and warp due to the textile being forced into place, here these regions are nice and flat and naturally follow the flow of the rest of the seams. Everything is nice and clean. I also like that they have opted for a wider stitching and reasonable edge overlap, which reduces tension and makes for more even lines. As a result, there is barely any warping, give or take the minor discrepancies you just can’t avoid when working with such materials. Overall the quality is very good.
Pricing and Availability
If I were a stand-up comedian it would be easy to write a sketch that has the lines “There’s other vendors and then there’s ABU.” in it, but not in a good sense. “Notoriously unreliable.” is certainly an exaggeration, but describes how I feel about this very well. You couldn’t go out and buy a pack of ABU diapers of your choice and in your given size if your life depended on it, much less one of these onesies. Everything just seems to be permanently in short supply and whether or not you are able to snatch some items a lot of the time comes down to pure luck. It was a total matter of chance that I was able to get my suits and had enough money left in my account when only a few days later they were already out of stock.
To add bad to worse, so far it seems Nappies’R’Us were never able to refill their supply. Of course I’m saying all this from my point of view as a European citizen who for some strange reason always seem to be last on the list of those foreign vendors, but it’s beyond frustrating and simply a nightmare. If some day a stable supplier for these products pops up (which due the looming Brexit better not be located in the UK), it shall be a reason to celebrate. Unfortunately directly ordering from the US isn’t a viable alternative, either.
The price for this product is clearly at the upper end of the spectrum. Being sold at around 35 to 45 US dollar (USD) which thanks to import fees and taxes translates to almost the same amount in British pound (GBP) and Euros (EUR) this is not something you pick up on a whim while window-shopping. You have to plan for it, if only in an abstract, idealistic way, given the limited availability.
They’re gonna hate me for saying this, but at least in this specific case ABU really sucks. As long as they don’t get a handle on their supply issues, it doesn’t really matter much how good or bad their products are, because most people (here in Europe) won’t be able to experience them first hand. That said, the diaper suits are actually quite good. They have a unique charme and take an equally unique approach to the subject from a different perspective instead of just being knock-offs of other products. You just have to accept their specific characteristics and make them work for you. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out for the Space and Little Pawz variants despite some of my reservations. I just can’t resist the cuteness factor. ;-) Too bad that this will be like chasing unicorns.