Business is booming in Switzerland's lingerie stores and among their biggest customers are men shopping for gifts. It seems the male sex is finally losing its inhibitions when it comes to buying underwear for their partners.
Liselotte Stebler, manager of Zurich's Perosa lingerie store told swissinfo that more men are buying lingerie than ever before.
"I guess a half or a third of our customers at this time of year are men who come and get their Christmas presents. During the year we only really see men shopping here for special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries," explained Stebler.
There are 30 Perosa stores across Switzerland offering a wide selection of lingerie - all for women. It seems that not only are more men be coming into these bastions of all things female, but they also know more about what to look for.
"Men know the partners' sizes. Either they go into the cupboards and have a look, or they ask their partners what size they've been buying. We hardly have any exchanges after Christmas," said Stebler.
Unsurprisingly, men are also forking out far more money for fancy underwear than women.
"Men buy the things a woman doesn't buy for herself, such as delicate lace underwear, and that is quite expensive," added Stebler. "Women buy items in a normal price range - more everyday underwear - while the men go for the more exclusive versions."
Unlike women, men also prefer red lingerie. "Red is very erotic, but because it shows through clothes women don't like it," explained Stebler.
Perosa was founded 50 years ago by the Sherrer family and now employs around 300 staff in its 30 shops across Switzerland.
Lingerie shops are among that rare breed of specialist retailer that has managed to survive the onslaught of larger stores. Stebler believes this is because women need a specialist service when buying underwear.
"I guess it's the service we offer: we can order anything they want, and they're well looked after," said Stebler. "For instance they don't have to keep popping out of the changing room to try on another bra when they come to us."
Until New Year, though, it seems that a lot more men's paws will be handling silky draws, and in Perosa the shop assistants will certainly be willing to help them make that special purchase.
by Tom O'Brien