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Retail Mannequins Take on a Life of Their Own

Apr 09, 2014 09:20 PM EDT
Versace's Gold Mannequins
(Photo : Versace (Facebook))

Just as the retail landscape is changing so are the mannequins- yes, the mannequins seen in so many window displays that wear your favorite frocks. From Bergdorf Goodman to Gap Inc.'s Athleta to Fast Retailing Co.'s Uniqlo, the days of uniform mannequins are long gone.

Take the mannequins at H&M's recently opened Times Square location in New York. The Wall Street Journal is reporting they wear goggles with screens that display prices and other relevant content.

"You're increasingly seeing retailers do a combination of abstract and real," said Ken Nisch, chairman of JGA, a retail design and brand strategy firm based in Southfield, Michigan. "Having used sites and software such as Pinterest and Photoshop, the customer's mind thinks in a multi-tasking kind of way. They have no problem absorbing all these different mediums."

In a way, mannequins are now being used as an extension of the brand. What better way to differentiate one retailer from another than with something as simple and as cost-efficient as mannequins?

Think about the shift in perspective about mannequins this way. Would you expect the same core customer to be at Bergdorf's as Target? Probably not, which is why mannequins are also being leveraged as a way to provide instant styling tips that target that specific customer.

"[Customers] are looking for a little more help with 'how do I really pull this off?'" Joshua Thomas, a spokesman for Target stated to The Wall Street Journal. "If she needs a cute outfit to wear to a picnic on Saturday and she has 10 minutes to get it, [mannequins are] time saving in that respect, helping them identify items and inspiring them to purchase."

Next time you are out shopping, be sure to check out not only what the mannequins are wearing, of course, but also what the mannequins themselves look like. Are they Versace gold or Nordstrom gray? Are they posing like a runway model like at Intermix or are they in a yoga pose like at Athleta? Maybe, they look eerily similar to one of your favorite models, such as Ralph Pucci's Christy Turlington mannequin? Yes, it does sound like another reason to shop or at least window shop.

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