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(Bloomberg) -- When movie goers attend the release of “Fifty Shades of Grey” this weekend, they will find a $100 pair of Swiss boxers feature in the first sex scene.
Zimmerli Textil AG found out on Thursday that its brand is displayed in the film based on the best-selling sadomasochistic romance novel. In a shot from behind, Christian Grey, portrayed by actor Jamie Dornan, is seen pulling his boxers down quickly in his bedroom.
“We weren’t informed that Jamie Dornan is wearing Zimmerli boxers in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ but we’re very happy about it,” Sonja Baumann, head of brand communications, said in an e- mailed response to questions. “The presence in a Hollywood movie helps the brand to increase awareness.”
Baumann didn’t comment on how the boxers’s appearance might affect sales of the company’s products, which have also featured in movies such as “Rocky” and “The Matrix.” Underwear sales comprise about 80 percent of revenue at Zimmerli, a luxury underwear maker based in Aarburg, west of Zurich.
Zimmerli, which has 88 employees and produces all of its underwear in Coldrerio, Switzerland, has never paid for any product placement. The company will keep underwear production in the country, even as the strong franc makes it more expensive. Zimmerli’s nightwear and loungewear is developed in Switzerland but finished elsewhere in Europe.
“You want to avoid the tighty-whities,” Mark Bridges, costume designer for the movie, said in a phone interview on Feb. 10, discussing the choice of boxers for the main character in “Fifty Shades.” “And you want to be body conscious, not like Grandpa’s boxers. So the boxer brief was nice. It’s practical. It just feels sexy. They were the Swiss brand Zimmerli. So, so pretty. It was like $100 a short. I felt it was right.”
Ever since Sylvester Stallone wore the Richelieu shirt in Rocky, Zimmerli’s products have been talked about by stylists and actors in Hollywood and established themselves in film productions, Baumann said. The products are purchased at local retail partners and Zimmerli usually only finds out that their products are used when the movie comes out.
The company hasn’t had an opportunity to confirm whether the “Fifty Shades” boxers are its brand.
Zimmerli has a goal of selling its products in stores from Hollywood to Tokyo, while focusing on the core regions of Europe, U.S. and China, Baumann said.
“Underwear is related to eroticism and sensual moments per se,” Baumann said. “We leave it up to the customers whether BDSM plays a role.”
--With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss in Zurich.
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