Large-Size Mannequins: the Right Message?

Articles
February 25, 2010

Large-Size Mannequins: the Right Message?

Debenhams is a British department store that thinks it might be a good idea to display mannequins in the sizes of their most common customers – size 14 and above (which is the equivalent to US size 8).

Debenhams is a British department store that thinks it might be a good idea to display mannequins in the sizes of their most common customers – size 14 and above (which is the equivalent to US size 8). We understand the business reason for this: 42% of the operator’s sales come from UK size 14 and 16 clothing, according to a report in the UK Daily Mail.

Yet we wonder where this size inflation will end (Debenhams carries up to size 26). And as it good as fuller-size mannequins may make the everyday UK size 14 woman feel, we question if they stand as the right kinds of role models. Type 2 diabetes is on a rampage, largely due to diet. If  window displays with skinny mannequins make women feel a bit uncomfortable about their size and motivate even a small percentage to become fitter, that’s better.

So far the fuller-size mannequins are in test in one store, while size 10 mannequins are used in the rest of the chain’s window displays. “We are proud to offer a broad and varied choice for women of all ages, shapes and sizes in store. We thought we should reflect this in our window displays. If it’s popular with customers, we would love to roll it out, Mark Stevens, chain spokesman, told the paper.

Looks like the store’s shoppers will dictate the next move. Our view: It’s one thing to sell people what they need and make them feel welcome in a store, but it’s a higher level of service to help people aspire to be better and upgrade their quality of life. A size 10 mannequin alone doesn’t do that, but at least it represents a healthier mainstream size and a ‘you can do it’ attitude. That’s an important message unsent by both the size 0 fashion designer clothes and the higher double-digit size mannequins.