Friday, July 23, 2010
A teenage vampire is not the obvious choice of inspiration for a range of men’s underpants. But Robert Pattinson, or R Patz as the star of The Twilight Saga is known by fans, has been named as the inspiration behind Marks and Spencer’s new slim-fit underwear.
Dubbed the R-Pant, the low-rise briefs and trunks are designed to be worn under skinny jeans and trousers, a look popularised by the likes of Russell Brand and Mark Ronson, two celebrities the chain cites as design influences.
Despite widely reported criticism by Jeremy Paxman in 2008 when the Newsnight presenter claimed “their pants no longer provide adequate support”, one in four UK men still wear M&S pants, according to the retailer.
The R-Pant launch is a thinly-veiled marketing strategy designed to appeal to a younger audience and to sex-up its underwear range. “Over the last three years we’ve seen an increase in the popularity of hipsters,” says Richard Beale, head of merchandising. “The new range is designed to appeal to a younger, fashion-savvy customer.”
Olie Arnold, style director of Men’s Health, believes there is a market for lower-rise pants. “I hate seeing the waistbands of men’s pants poking out of the top of their jeans,” he said. He questioned whether M&S was the right target market. “Do M&S really even sell skinny jeans? Maybe lots of women will buy them for their husbands and boyfriends, though.”
In recent years footballers have been used to market men’s underwear. Cristiano Ronaldo is the current poster boy for Emporio Armani, a role he inherited from David Beckham. Pattinson’s skinnier aesthetic is a move away from this trend.
Pattinson will not star in an advertising campaign for M&S. But a spokesman said the Twilight actor has been seen shopping for underwear at the store. The new range will go on sale in September.