A HIGH street chain is to "masculinise" its approach to selling irons in response to growing demand from male customers.
Argos yesterday revealed how it intends describing the humble steam iron using phrases more commonly linked to cars, power tools or shavers.
Macho terms such as "turbo," "ultimate control" and "precision" will be used in sales jargon for the more expensive models.
Meanwhile Cardiff has emerged as one of the top 10 areas of the UK for steam iron-buying blokes.
According to the chain, male impact on the market is "huge" because they usually buy top-of-the-range irons costing £50 or more, a spokesman said.
The number of British men who now do their own ironing has risen to 17% in the last decade, according to the high street chain.
Argos, which sells more than 1.5 million irons a year, said its new approach was a "revolutionary step" in an industry which traditionally targets women customers.
The chain's iron buyer, Eddie Kemp, said men tended to see the domestic appliance as a "power tool" and wanted descriptions to match.
"The world of ironing is taking on a new identity, and for the very first time it has a Y chromosome," he said.
Factors which have prompted men to take to their iron boards are said to be a general increase in male grooming and a growing number of divorced or single men living alone.
Terms such as "Turbo Pro Express Steam Generator", "Power Steam" and "Ultimate Control" are used to describe irons costing up to £229 in the current Argos catalogue. The new edition, published next month, will contain even more of these "male" phrases although traditional descriptions aimed primarily to appeal to women such as "quick", "convenient" and "easy iron" will still feature.
Mr Kemp said men and women had different approaches to ironing.
"Women want to get rid of creases while men want to destroy them," he said. "Men see the iron as a power tool and so demand features which emphasise power, control and force. Women, on the other hand, just want to have crinkle-free clothes."
The new catalogue will describe the amount of steam produced by each iron in grams per minute in a way it says is similar to the description of a car's engine power.
Ironing board design also reflects the increase in male customers, according to the retailer. Bigger, wider models in colours such as grey, blue and black are now on sale.
Ironing has already received a jolt of machismo thanks to the much-publicised and whacky sport of "extreme ironing".
The "sport", which held its first world championships four years ago, involves the sedate pursuit of ironing...while perched precariously halfway up a cliff, on top of a mountain or in the middle of a busy street.
Its creator Phil Shaw, of Leicester, says it "combines the thrill of an extreme sport with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt".
And male ironing came under the spotlight only last month when it was revealed that Prince Harry will have to press his own clothes at Sandhurst, in the particular way taught by the Army.
Confirmed ironing-phobe Andrew Webb, 23, of Rhiwbina, Cardiff, said Argos may be onto something. "I've never ironed a shirt in my life - my mum does all my ironing," he said, "It's time-consuming and you think about it as feminine.
"Irons are not really seen as technical things like guys' things and they're all in weak colours.
"But when I move out I may be tempted to learn how to iron, and if they bring out more technologically-advanced models they could become more appealing to men."