Retailers Are Finally Embracing Body Diversity With New Mannequins
A growing number of retailers are finally making strides towards inclusivity and body diversity with the introduction of plus-sized mannequins in a long overdue move.
Sportswear brand Nike unveiled its latest mannequins - which include both para-sport and plus-sized ones - this month in its flagship Oxford Street store, with the company being applauded by shoppers for realising representation matters more than ever.
Rihanna's new Fenty clothing line quickly following in Nike's footsteps, after social media users spotted mannequins with curves at an NYC pop up last week, rather than the usual stick thin models with endless legs we've all grown accustomed to seeing.
"Rihanna's vision for FENTY is to celebrate femininity in all its form," Fenty said in a statement.
FENTY. Release 6-19. @FentyOfficial pic.twitter.com/k1IY3FOltR
- Rihanna News (@TeamOfRihanna) June 18, 2019
"This Release 6-19 explores another facet of a woman's wardrobe, one that honors all colors, shapes, curves and styles. We wanted to illustrate the Maison's inclusive side by showing a size-range of mannequins which represent this reality."
It's not just Fenty and Nike using plus sized models, as other high street stores are already doing the same, including the likes of Debenhams.
I was today years old when I seen my first mannequin with hip dips like me ! Thank you Fenty. https://t.co/Yztx9JEuHy
- karema :sparkles: (@karemadaniele) June 19, 2019
Here for this mannequin having hip dips and a little pooch https://t.co/ybZyHFwrlm
- Tellie (@Chaantellie) June 19, 2019
Back in 2013, the department store revealed it would be using new size 16 dummies to truly represent its customers. Ed Watson, a director of Debenhams, said: "We've developed our own range of size 16 mannequins to sit alongside our usual size 10 dummies.
"We felt it was important to better represent what real women actually look like when advertising our clothes."
Mannequin manufacturer Displaysense told Pretty52 that it had seen sales increase by as much as 73 per cent for plus-sized dummies, meaning we could be about to see much more of them on the high street.
debenhams are introducing plus sized mannequins oh my god THANK YOU
- sian (@sianidkk) November 6, 2013
"Over the last five years we've had a number of requests for plus-sized mannequins, not only female but also the male variety," said Displaysense's commercial manager Carrie Gilbertson.
"When speaking to retailers it would seem that they are less focused on the style of the mannequin, rather favouring the 'keeping it real' appearance and considering diversity when it comes to sizing.
"That said in this period plus sized specific sales we have seen sales increase as much as 73 per cent based on year on year sales figures."
Meanwhile, Missguided have introduced mannequins with vitiligo, stretch marks and freckles last year.
And in the US, stores like Target and Old Navy also use plus-sized mannequins.
While the praise has been in abundance for these companies, the move has been met with criticism with some questioning whether the 'plus sized' mannequins are "normalising obesity".
Old Navy rocking the plus-sized mannequins :thumbsup: pic.twitter.com/nBROX9cuIC
- Amanda (@ms_emmalyon) June 22, 2019
wait hey!! Look at these great plus sized mannequins I saw at target today pic.twitter.com/SaRoPP3vMX
- Klepto :point_right:commissions open (@KleptoCosplayer) April 13, 2018
However, a recent survey conducted by Golf Support of 1,424 people found that 83 per cent of people believe more sportswear brands should follow in Nike's footsteps, with 80 per cent disagreeing that the dummies are 'glorifying obesity'.
One in seven said Nike's mannequins were the first time they'd seen a plus-sized one being used on the high street, with 90 per cent saying they feel like more needs to be done in the sports industry to promote inclusivity of all sizes and shapes.
And 41 per cent said they felt inspired and proactive after seeing the new Nike mannequins, and 31 per cent said they felt proud.
It seems like other clothing companies should be following in these brands' footsteps too, as 82 per cent of those surveyed said seeing a plus-sized mannequin in-store would make them more interested in a brand.
It's a small step in the right direction for inclusivity for all body sizes but there's still much more progress to make.
Featured Image Credit: Nike