Wolford: can men work at the boutique?

Wolford Boutique in Soho

Recently there was a post on Hosiery Advocate’s blog about him feeling that Wolford doesn’t wish to hire male staff.  Eugene, the Hosiery Advocate, even went as far as writing them a letter.

I was in the area, so I walked in and asked about that.  The lady working there told me that they have no problem with hiring men.  However, she did mention that some female customers would rather have another female assist them with the change room.

It seems to me that Wolford may lose sales if their customers are not comfortable wtih the sales staff.  At least when I try something on I ask the sales girl to come over and look so I can be confident that this is the proper fit.   If it’s lingerie, for sure I’d prefer female staff to check the fit.

I used to know a guy in Toronto who brought in a line of Latvian lingerie.  He distributed it to stores, but he also had a retail location where I went with  my mom for shopping.  There was a change room, but he obviously didn’t offer “assistance” beyond the curtain.  I don’t know for what reason, but his business closed down eventually.

Have you ever seen men assisting women in lingerie stores with change rooms (ex. Victoria Secret, La Senza, and so on)?

What is your opinion on this?  Would it hurt Wolford’s sales if they would hire male staff to assist clients at the boutique?

I asked for some opinions and most people seemed to think along the same lines as Jenny from United States who agreed to share her response with us.

“I would definitely feel weird if a guy tried to help me make a purchase at a Wolford store or Victoria Secret. It would say to me that he has a fetish for hosiery or lingerie, and that’s not the kind of person I want standing a foot away from me while I pick out my undergarments. My guess is that most women would feel the same way, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

On the pantyhose forum there were also mentions about the fact that men and women react differently in the same situation when it comes to a sales person of an opposite gender.  Another man stated that he saw gay men working at lingerie stores and women didn’t mind, they just perceived them as one of the girls.

I even consulted two women at work about this matter.  One lady said that for sure she would prefer female staff since they have the same anatomy, but she made an exception – drag queens are OK!  Another young woman said that she doesn’t mind men at all because even her gynecologist is male, she knows what she likes and all she doesn’t require any assistance or assurance in the changeroom.

Let’s say, so far from my little research most of the time both genders would say that lingerie stores should continue to hire only women.  Is this discrimination or not?  I remember that one time a professor told me that equality is a concept that generates a lot of confusion and is often misunderstood.  Perhaps Wolford is also having that dilemma.

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6 thoughts on “Wolford: can men work at the boutique?

  1. This is a good discussion topic. I could imagine that women would be uncomfortable with men helping. I would offer to help, but I would understand if they did not want any. I’d like to see how others respond to this.

  2. I totally get why men might not work at these places. I am a man and don’t know much about women’s lingerie. That aside it is a store for women. But I do wonder now if a guy like me who wears hosiery could get job there if dressed properly with hose on. I hate working retail and never want to do it again, but I might have given this a try if I thought it would work out. Perhaps a gay man could get job doing this. Interesting subject though.

  3. There SHOULDN’T be a problem with men in that role, but if too many women are uncomfortable, it would hurt sales and therefore hurt the business, so I understand why men don’t have that retail role. For the record I’ve never seen male staff for a lingerie/hosiery section or in a dedicated women’s store. I’ve never seen male employees at a Victoria’s Secret, ever. I will put in a good word for VS, I had no problem with employees when I showed up dressed as female and browsed for awhile before buying something.

  4. I was in London recently and noticed a man behind the counter at a Wolford store. If they are trying on some piece of underwear and they need “hands on” assistance then have the lady step in. My wife has bought hundreds of items from Wolford and Fogal shops and never required assistance that would have been inappropriate if it was a man helping her. How many women work in menswear shops and see men in their underwear? Or take an inseam measurement? The man who wants to work in a Wolford must be a pervert, or so the double standard would have you believe.

  5. Pingback: Fantasy Stockings » For the Love of Hosiery » Men and Lingerie Stores – response to Hosiery Advocate’s blog post

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