Selfridges sees 28 per cent jump in underwear sales

Men’s underwear is revealing itself to be a recession-busting item, with one major retailer recording a 28 per cent increase in sales since the start of the year.

Selfridges in London’s Oxford Street compared sales of men’s “bodywear” – underwear, sleepwear and socks – to the “lipstick effect”, the term coined for women buying small but luxurious items in times of recession.

The category has emerged as one of the strongest performers at the store, to the extent that it is extending the bodywear department by 20 per cent.

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The 9,000 sq ft area will stock nearly 25,000 pairs of underwear, of which 10,000 will be displayed on a curved wall “set to be the largest of its kind in the world”.

Customers immune to the recession can choose from underwear made by Versace or Dior, which has a range of briefs at £55 apiece, or a silk dressing gown by Savile Row tailor Derek Rose for £915.

Those wanting to spend a little less will find pairs of Happy Socks for £8.

The store said its best-selling styles were trunks, making up 46 per cent of sales, briefs (27 per cent) and boxers (13 per cent), with the most popular colours being black, white and red.

Selfridges menswear buying manager Richard Sanderson said: “Sales of men’s underwear at Selfridges have been very healthy throughout 2012 and they have been even stronger since the start of the year.

“With our new men’s bodywear space we are forecasting weekly sales of nearly 3,000 pairs of underwear.

“Men have become much more fashion-conscious in their choice of underwear and are looking for details and distinctive features such as contrasting belts, mix of texture in the materials used, patterns and even devices to enhance their natural shape.”