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Mannequin diversity

_shift takes to the high street to look at whether shop dummies are really representative

As fashion brands have progressed over the last years with size ranges broadening to become more inclusive along with more POC models being selected for brand advertisement, why is there such a stark difference from retailer to retailer when it comes to the appearance of their mannequins?

It appears that some brands may not see the importance of the mannequins displayed throughout their stores, in representing what many of their customer base look like, but if this was the case why have mannequins at all? It is interesting to notice the retailers with a lack of inclusivity where mannequins modelling clothes are all slender, pale, and typically dressed in clothes labelled “XS” – retailers such as Hollister and Urban Outfitters are guilty of this.

Maybe it goes unnoticed to the average customer, but every bit of representation a brand is lacking should be noted as we ask the question if one brand has inclusive mannequins modelling their clothes for customers why can’t they all? How effective can having tiny clothes pinned on all the same figures as an in-store marketing technique be?

Starting off with Boux Avenue, a London based lingerie retailer aimed at women in their mid 20s and owned by male entrepreneur, Theo Paphitis. The retailer has a lack of diversity amongst its mannequins and seems to fuel the narrative that smaller bodies are more desirable in lingerie. Despite larger sizes being available, they are not present on the mannequins making it hard for the customer to see what it would look like on different sized bodies. Also, this may be daunting to see as buying lingerie can be a vulnerable time for some, so having mannequins tower above you in the clothing item you would like to purchase which resembles nothing like yourself could be off putting.

Victoria’s Secret Pink, launched in 2002 in connection with Victoria’s Secret long standing lingerie brand has a history of using size 0 models on the catwalk. Moving away from this narrative the lingerie and apparel line, Pink, targeting women of a younger age seems to have a variety of inclusive mannequins. Refreshing to see and breaking the stereotype attached to the brand, this could have been due to the scale of Victoria’s Secret audience who held the brand accountable. Resulting in influencing the brands diversity.

Spanish clothing retailer, Zara, and one of the largest international fashion companies that is a part of the distribution group, Inditex, has a lack of diversity amongst its mannequins. With tall mannequins that resemble the stereotypical supermodel making it difficult to envision the clothes ever fitting comfortable on the average body. We may presume that due to the sheer revenue the brand makes from its establishment and recent popularity of try on hauls over social media platforms, the brand may not feel the need to spend any of its approximately £10.5 billion a year sales on injecting diversity into its retailers. However, if the brand was more representative, would this figure be increased?

American multinational association, Nike, which sells apparel, footwear, accessories, equipment, and services does not disappoint when it comes to the diversity of their mannequins. With over 985 stores worldwide it houses mannequins off all body types and abilities, opening the door to another avenue of inclusivity that is yet to be explored by many other retailers.

With mannequins being a pivotal sales point for brands when it comes to gaining the attention of customers in store, how many brands are missing out on sales when customers look at the slender mannequins in front of them and presume the clothes would never fit their body.

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