OPINION: Fifty Shades of British

What is there to say about fifty shade of grey? Well, plenty. For the past few months, everyone has been talking about the erotic novel and trying to jump on the profitable bandwagon of its rather extraordinary success.

One merchandising deal – including the license for a range of lingerie – and a set of film rights later, and the public’s appetite for ‘mummy porn’ has yet to abate.

Lurid stories still smother the tabloids. Only last week, entertainmentwise.com ran with the story ‘Fifty Shades of Grey replaces the bible,’ describing how one Lake District Hotel replaced the holy text, present in all its rooms, with the explicit tale.

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The most popular story on the Lingerie Insight homepage, last week, was about the launch of fetish-inspired lingerie brand Almeida launching in London, a show of interest that seem unlikely to be a mere coincidence.

More pertinently, the phenomenon has reportedly driven up interest in lingerie and sexy accessories. VoucherCodesPro recently found that of the high volume of people searching for the 50 Shades trilogy books in June, 68 percent then went on to look for lingerie-related discounts afterwards and 26 percent continued on to seek sex toy deals.

Ann Summers has reportedly been selling bondage gear, such as silk ties, handcuffs and jiggle balls in the bucket load since the Fifty Shades of Grey book became a public hit.

And, the high street retailer – which rarely fails to profitably gauge the nation’s appetite for sex – recently co-hosted an event with Penguin Books for the launch of Sylvia Day’s Bared to You. The book had written on the front ‘If you liked Fifty Shades of Grey then you’ll love this.’

Coco de Mer is set to follow up, this September, with the launch of a real life version of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ called Diary of a Submissive.

Yet, what is at the root of this sudden passion for fifty shades of kink? Can one book truly have such a massive impact on the public psyche? They say sex sells, so why was it not selling more before the launch of E L James raunchy novel?

The British psyche is traditionally considered to be reserved. Yes, the island’s male and female inhabitants may sometimes imbibe copious amounts of alcohol and make a public exhibition of themselves in the streets, but the same citizens – when sober – might find it difficult to enter an Ann Summers store without giggling.

Many UK lingerie retailers have, in the past, hesitated to carry certain accessories in the fear that it might put off some of their more conservative customers.

I would argue, perhaps controversially, that Fifty Shades of Grey’s true achievement is not to help sex sell again, but to make it acceptable. This acceptability, driven by the mass consumption of ‘mummy porn,’ is what has led customers to stores in droves. Fifty Shades of Grey’s true achievement has been to make sex less, well, sexy.

And, the result has been that a new – potentially lucrative market – has opened up.

The verdict is in folks. Hate the novel or love it, but don’t dismiss it. Fetish products are no longer a grey area.






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