Thorsten Allenstein, the country manager for premium lingerie maker Triumph, was recently in New Delhi to open the brand’s flagship store at Connaught Place. We cornered him at the event and asked him about romance, sex and his interesting day job. Edited excerpts:
I feel good: Men should take help when buying lingerie, says Allenstein.
So Thorsten, you work with lingerie all day. Correct?
So you must think of sex all the time? (Woman chaperone from public relations firm vanishes.)
Well…you know….umm… (twisting his face up as he thinks) to be really honest, I used to think of sex a lot. But not any more. Once you see women in lingerie as much as I do, you begin to see it more as a job. As a professional responsibility.
You mean when you see these lingerie models and attend fashion shows…
Correct. I mean no disrespect of course, but then I begin to see the models as platforms to display our products. It is really difficult to get a good lingerie model. So I tend to notice scars and tattoos and cellulite and the figure and all that. After a point you stop associating sex with it.
Doesn’t that begin to affect your personal life?
(Throwing up his hands) No, no, no. I am very happy in my personal life. No problems at all.
Of course. But I mean when you see women…are you able to appreciate them? After all, you are interacting with models all the time.
I get your point. But I married a model. So I am OK.
Moving on then. Popular culture portrays lingerie as a sexy gift for your loved one. You see that in movies and on television. Is that true?
It is true. Lingerie is a very, very sexy gift. But it is not as simple as they show it in the media. Guys don’t know how to buy lingerie for women. They normally mess it up.
How must men buy lingerie then? And is lingerie a potent aphrodisiac?
What you must do is come to one of our stores and then ask the store assistants to help you. Most men buy the lingerie they want to see on the woman. Not the lingerie that the woman wants to wear. Two totally different things. They end up buying things that the woman will hate to wear. So tell our staff what you like and they’ll help you find something interesting. That is the best way to go about it.
But will it work? It won’t seem inappropriate?
You can’t gift somebody lingerie on a first date. Obviously. But if you buy wisely, take her to a nice fancy restaurant, let the evening proceed nicely and then present her with the gift…she’d love that, I am sure. Chances are bright for the rest of the night.
Excellent. From a business perspective, tell us if Indian women are warming up to international lingerie.
Absolutely. We’ve had a great experience. Till now, many big brands were stocking old designs and brands here. Customers were getting a raw deal. But now Triumph, for instance, launches designs in India as soon as they are launched abroad.
Also, dressing styles are changing. When a woman wears a T-shirt and pair of jeans, you want to make sure there aren’t any lines showing and that you are comfortable. Which means you need good quality lingerie.
And finally there is greater awareness of types of products available. So far women here wore white cotton lingerie or some simple patterns. But now look at all this (pointing at the full racks around him), there are so many fabrics and materials...
Now finally, tell us what your favourite types of lingerie are. Let me rephrase that: What would you like to see your wife in?
(Allenstein immediately rushes from rack to rack, picking up pieces) There is this brand new, sort of semi-push-up bra that I think is excellent. Lacy finish. Very sexy. I also like this new model with this deep broach between cups that is awesome.
(Moving to another rack across the store near the cash counter) And then I really like this one-piece type. But…my wife doesn’t like it. She says it’s too hot to wear in India. It’s a pity really. It’s very nice.