Men in pants: boutique’s bold initiative

The Winchester lingerie boutique Boudoir Blush brought in new customers over the Christmas period thanks to its unusual marketing technique: two human signposts wearing Bjorn Borg underwear.

With so many customers migrating to ecommerce platforms, high-street footfall is an increasing challenge, so stores such as Boudoir Blush, that are off the beaten track, have to work even harder to bring customers in at crucial times like Christmas.

The boutique’s owner, Ellie Gosse, who took the company over last year, said that there was a need to encourage Winchester’s shoppers off the main streets into Parchment Street, which has a number of small boutiques. "If you’re not from Winchester or you’re not looking for a specific shop, you wouldn’t know about it to come down here," she said. "We’ve been lobbying the council for ages to put signage up."

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Gosse’s solution for Christmas was to send two male friends out into the street wearing Bjorn Borg underpants or long johns, a brand that she sells in the store, which had the effect of bringing in both female shoppers attracted by the stunt and male shoppers looking for the Bjorn Borg range. She saw a large increase in footfall over the two Saturdays before Christmas.

The stunt received unwelcome attention too, in the form of a Police Community Support Officer who apparently felt it was inappropriate. "We had on the first Saturday a complaint from the Community Support Officer who said he’d had complaints," said Gosse. "So I rang the police and they couldn’t come back with anything that we’d done wrong. Also, the previous owner had done the same thing with girls wearing corsets and suspenders and no one had complained, so I thought it was a bit sexist, really. And while the PCSO was taking down the model’s details, there were three lots of women who wanted to have their photos taken with him."

Gosse is increasing her collections of men’s underwear this season, and hopes to relaunch the website as an ecommerce site early this year.

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