Trying to choose and buy mannequins that complement your clothes and brand can be tricky sometimes. (Although, it is much more simple if you ask our experts here at The Display Centre!)
If you would like to read up first. you’re in the right place. If you have any tips that you would like to add, or any questions you would like us to address here, please use the comments section below.
Mannequins can really change the way a shop feels. And the way a shop feels is important. It is the way customers are attracted to a shop and it is a big contributor to customer experience. So much so, that when studies have been conducted on shops where the atmosphere is the only difference – the more pleasant store always encourages the most spend.
So when you are choosing your mannequins, there are several things you should be taking into consideration:
The mannequins that you buy will need to be fit for the purpose that you are buying them for. For example, someone who wishes to sell motorbikes will not be satisfied with an inflexible mannequin. Equally, a clothes store will want a mannequin that looks stylish. If your mannequin is needed for photography, then you will probably prefer a ghost mannequin. This is because sections of their body can be removed so that the clothes appear to be floating in your images.
The reason you need to buy mannequins should guide you as to which type to buy. Although some mannequins can be modified, this is usually only a cost-effective option if you are purchasing in bulk.
Here are a few different styles to bear in mind:
The bodies of these mannequins is made from fiberglass,while the arms are made of wood. These are popular for their retro styling,
and also for practical reasons. Their arms bend at the shoulder, elbow an d wrist joints which makes them ideal for creating interesting
poses and for holding handbags and accessories.
These articulated tailors’ dummies are also particularly popular at the moment. They are one of the most in demand fashion styles,
but unlike the mannequins, they are primarily used in window displays. Their stands are adjustable so that the mannequins can be positioned at different heights which allows for excellent display versatility.
Their wooden arms can be articulated into different shapes, allowing them to be used to display a range of fashion accessories.
Classic adult mannequins are some of the most versatile. They usually come in white or black and with either matt or gloss finishes.
White mannequins can be sprayed to create bespoke colours, and this is a quick way to make window displays more attention
grabbing. For example, orange mannequins are quite popular with sports shops.
If you are looking for a different coloured mannequin,
it can be cheapest to buy mannequins that are matt and get them sprayed. (We offer a bespoke painting service).
Child and teen mannequins are usually sold by their age group. They tend to come in white or black as standard, but as with the classic
adult mannequins, if you buy matt mannequins they can be sprayed. (We offer a bespoke painting service).
There are a variety of child and teen mannequins available. Below around the 4 year age group, most mannequins are designed to be unisex. Above this age they tend to begin to be more tailored. Often articulated child mannequins are used to create a high end, luxury feel to a store.
Flexible mannequins are usually used for displaying sports equipment or motorbike wear. They are also popular with schools for emergency situation training. This is because they can be manipulated into any shape and therefore can make a situation more realistic.
They are made from a polyeurathane foam that has a thin skin over the top.They are ideal for those who would like to be able to make unique poses for their mannequin displays. They can be re-posed but care must be taken when manipulating them so as not to cause damage to their skin.
Tailors’ dummies are popular with retailers and dress makers alike. They are popular for their retro, vintage feel. They also provide excellent versatility because they can be used for both dressmaking, and also for displays.
There are different body shapes which are designed for slightly different purposes. For example, the dummy to the left has high cut legs and also an off-centre stand. This makes it well suited to displaying lingerie. whereas one with a slightly longer torso, and a central bust, would probably make a better dress displays.
The bodies of these dummies are made from polystyrene that is covered with a jersey fabric. This means that they are robust to being pinned.
Body forms are a popular way to display swimwear. They can be hung from slatwall or from other display systems. As a result, they’re space efficient. They also tend to be one of the cheapest ways to display clothes on a form.
While these are suitable for in-store displays, they do not tend to make very good window displays. This is because they must be suspended and their appearance is not as eye-catching as a full length model.
These are popular for window displays because they’re different to the average mannequin. Their style is quirky
and minimalistic. As they are so unusual, they are a great way to attract attention. The types of clothes that you would like to display on them should be considered though.
For example, these are a great way to show off t-shirts and jackets. But if you are wanting to display a dress that is shaped, it may be better to opt for a more shaped model as this may not display the detail of your item in the best way.
Most retailers think of mannequins as an investment. They want to be able to use them for at least a season, and often smaller retailers would like to be able to use them for a year or two.
It is important to consider the mannequins’ poses. They should suit the types of clothes that they will be displaying. The more high fashion the pose, the more interesting the mannequin should be. Interesting doesn’t have to mean limbs flailing either, it can just mean a featureless face and a high fashion pose. Bear in mind, the more high fashion the pose, the shorter the lifespan of the mannequin’s time in fashion.
Don’t be afraid to choose a classic mannequin style. If you want to change it up, you can always add accessories. For example, River Island frequently change the way their displays look with wigs. I saw them use red wigs with very long fringes on their mannequins a few months ago. It gave their mannequins a high fashion, fun, feel.
Even classic mannequins can be made to look more fashion forward, simply by adding a wig.
Remember your mannequins’ main purpose is to sell your merchandise. Take some time to think about the poses that you would like your mannequins to be doing. You may even wish to buy two or three different mannequins so that you have pose styles to choose between and to complement each other in window displays. Ideally a combination of poses would be used so that each display is interesting. You may even want to consider sitting mannequins.
Think about your poses carefully, even the big brands get it a bit wrong sometimes – but that said, they certainly attracted some attention; “U Ok Hun?” – Are these mannequins alright?
There is a lot of controversy over mannequin sizes. Some feel that a more slim mannequin helps drive sales, while others feel that a more realistic shape and size of mannequin is far better. The answer comes down to your brand, your customers and the size of clothes you sell. There is very little point in buying a teenie-tiny mannequin if none of your clothes will fit them and will have to be pinned. Equally there is no point buying a plus size mannequin if the majority of your customers are looking for smaller sizes.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. The average female mannequin size is UK 8 – 10 and the average UK dress size is 12 – 16. The average mannequin size has remained fairly constant over the last ten years, and is fairly likely to continue on this trend. This said, many stores source “plus size” mannequins and report that their customers appreciate the more realistic representation of their body types. If you are concerned, you could buy mannequins in a range of sizes, but the best way to decide is probably to think about your brand. You can always ask your staff and customers too!
If budget is a concern, you may also want to consider that “plus size” mannequins tend to be more expensive as they are not as mass produced. The average sizes are generally the most cost effective to buy.
It tends not to be the average sized mannequins that people object to, as they do at least correlate with viable norms. It is when brands create highly stylised mannequins, which have very unrealistic proportions that the forms become upsetting to customers. Over the years many brands have been criticised for this.
This depends on the size of your windows, and the size of your store. For example, a solitary mannequin may look a little lonely in a large window display, unless you are going for something bold and dramatic. For example, if you have combined a single mannequin with a giant zebra prop against a really bold coloured backdrop, then one mannequin may be more attention grabbing.
As a rough rule of thumb, mannequins are usually used in groups of odd numbers in window displays. This is a well know design technique, look out for it next time you visit a shopping centre, you’ll start to notice it everywhere. Three mannequins look much more powerful than 2.
So unfortunately, I cannot tell you exactly how many to buy, but I can tell you to examine the size of your shop and your windows and to think about exactly where you would like to position them. Use this to guide you.
This is a balance. If you are looking for mannequins that are stylised, then you will need to consider that they may not remain in fashion for very long. So regardless of their condition, you may have to purchase new models in a year or so’s time. Conversley, if you purchase a classic mannequin style, you may find that it is more difficult to create a dramatic, attention grabbing display. As mentioned earlier, you could consider using wigs and window display props to help you make your mannequins look different from week to week.
There are generally discounts when you purchase several mannequins at the same time. Although it is tempting to spread the cost by purchasing mannequins over time, this can leave you open to not being able to find the style anymore – are mannequin lines are frequently discontinued. In addition, you will pay more per mannequin than you would if you purchased them at one time.
Mannequins tend to be an investment. They are the way to help your customers imagine the clothes on themselves. If your mannequins do not show your clothes off as best as a mannequin could, then they might not be the best advert for your shop. If you are unable to purchase the number of mannequins that you would like to, because you are drawn to a particular style, then consider using mannequins in-store which are of slightly different styles – but that are still complementary.
For example, if you prefer an articulated mannequin, use these in your window and purchase one of two for your in-store displays. Complement them with counter standing torso versions and ghost bust forms. That way, you can save a little money, without having to compromise on your preferred style for your shop windows.
Most mannequins come with stands that attach through the back of the calf or foot of the mannequin. The “rod” that attaches the mannequin to its base is called a spigot. If you are using the spigot to attach through the foot, then beware you may need to drill holes in your shoes.
Experienced professionals also use a method called “strike”. This is when wires are wrapped around the waist of a mannequin and then pulled taught. These wires are secured in two different directions and the mannequin is also attached to the floor with nails. This can be effective but is not as straight forward to set up as calf spigot.
Here at The Display Centre, we have a broad range of mannequins and we will create bespoke options and source you the styles that you need. We designed and created the mannequins that F&F Tesco Global use around the world.