US retail store mannequins get a more realistic makeover

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 10:01pm


The mannequin is getting a much-needed makeover, as stores in the US use more realistic versions of the usually tall, thin, faceless dummies in their windows and aisles.

It is part of retailers' efforts to make them look more like the women who wear their clothes, which means not only adding fat and hair, but also experimenting with make-up, wigs and poses.

Wings Beachwear's mannequins in Miami have tattoos. Those at American Apparel's downtown New York store have pubic hair peeking through their lingerie. And at David's Bridal, mannequins soon will get thicker waists, saggier breasts and back fat for a more realistic shape.

"This will give a customer a better idea of what the dress will look like on her," says Michele von Plato, a vice-president at America's largest bridal chain.

The makeovers come after two decades of stores cutting back on mannequins to save money. Many have been using basic white, headless torsos that can cost US$300 compared with the more realistic ones that can cost up to US$1,500.

Now, as shoppers are increasingly buying online, stores are seeing mannequins as a tool to entice them.

For the past two years, luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue has been showcasing more mannequins with hair, make-up and chiseled features.

American Apparel also is going more realistic. The teen clothing retailer, known for its racy ads, has mannequins in its store in trendy SoHo that wear see-through lingerie that reveal pubic hair and nipples.

But customer Allison Berman, 19, thought the realism went too far. "I see this as sexual," she said.