Japanese creates camouflage dress for urban jungle

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Mace is so passe -- a Japanese designer has invented a skirt that folds out into a life-sized vending machine, giving urban women fashionable protection against that stalker.

Aya Tsukioka said she was inspired by ancient ninja spies, who used dark-colored, all-encompassing cloths as camouflage when hiding against walls.

Using the same concept, the camouflage skirt folds out into a screen that looks like any of the soft-drink vending machines on every Tokyo street -- and behind which the woman can hide.

“Vending machines are in every corner of Japanese streets and we take it for granted,” said Tsukioka, 29, of the Musashino Art University in western Tokyo.

“A vending machine provides space just enough for one person to hide. That’s how I came up with the idea of making a coke-machine dress.”

Tsukioka, who has never been assaulted or stalked, is obsessed with self-protection: she has also come up with a concept handbag that looks like a manhole cover which, in theory, a woman can spread out on the ground to deter muggers.

Tsukioka does not know if her camouflage gear will ever be sold commercially, but that hasn’t stopped her from trying it out on Tokyo’s busy streets.

“I just passed without noticing it. It was perfectly blended into the urban landscape so it looked so natural, ” said businessman Hiroaki Murase about the vending-machine dress.

Others were less impressed. “I doubt if this is practical. If I were a women trying to escape, I’d just run,” said Tadakazu Kuraya, 24.

Tokyo, Japan’s most densely populated city of about 12 million, has a relatively low crime rate.

Reporting by Toshi Maeda; Editing by Miral Fahmy