PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Male models wearing nothing but red underpants try on clothes for you. Stylists guide you to hide-away boutiques. Shop assistants whiz around giant department stores to find your perfect outfit.
Shoppers in Paris who are too busy, weary or undecided to run after the latest fashion trends are receiving the help of a row of fashion workers advising them how to spend it.
French menswear shop Celio is offering a “rent-a-husband” service for women whose male friends are too lazy to shop.
Male models in different heights, weights and shapes, clad in nothing but underwear, are offering to try on clothes for females instead of their shopping-averse husbands.
“It was a bit of a crazy idea,” said Romain Martin, the founder of the Shoppenboys service, but he added that the half-naked models had helped spark sales at Celio shops.
“When people see the boys in their underwear, they want to make them try something on,” he said, adding that some 2,000 men had applied to become such husband-replacement models since the service was launched last year.
Consumer spending in France is solid compared to many of the country’s European neighbors.
And with Paris’s annual 27 million visitors spending an average 200 euros per day, many retailers are trying to also lure foreign customers into their stores with special services.
“Demand for personal shopping has spiked in the past few years,” said Isabelle Herve-Penard, who was running up and down the floors of Paris’s giant Galeries Lafayette department store to find her clients anything from ballroom gowns to sneakers.
“If you’re ill, you go and see a doctor. If you have a legal problem, you consult a lawyer. So why not ask for professional help when it comes to your outfit,” Herve-Penard said, adding many women lacked the time to spend hours shopping around.
“Here, it’s all presented for them, like on a plate,” said Herve-Penard, as she was convincing client Isabelle, 45, to exchange her black jacket and trousers for a new brown mini-dress and a shimmering green trench coat.
“I‘m starting a new job and wanted to have a younger image,” said shopper Isabelle, who paid 150 euros ($205.1) for a three-hour makeover at Galeries Lafayette (www.galerieslafayette.com).
But many shoppers in Paris do not just lack the time to hunt after latest trends, they also have trouble finding hide-away fashion treasures, said personal shopper Joelle Diderich.
“A lot of tourists who come to Paris tend to stick to the shopping districts that feature in guide books, like the Champs Elysees and large department stores, and miss out on the beautiful little shops that sell typically French products,” said Diderich, who takes clients on tailor-made shopping sprees.
“Most of the time, I take people on walking tours. Paris has fantastic flea markets full of vintage clothes, in addition to super-chic shopping districts like Saint-Germain-des-Pres.”
Diderich’s shopping tours (www.boutiquepersonalshopping.com) cost between 400 to 600 euros for a half to full day.
Galeries Lafayette’s Herve-Penard said there was only one draw-back to the personal shopping boom. “I run around so much in the store all day, I can never wear high heels,” she said.