Plus ca change Big is beautiful for retailer's mannequins
THE politics of size hits the Irish streets today as Debenhams unveils size-16 curvy girl mannequins.
In a market place dominated by the size-zero debate and a fashion industry where the catwalks are ruled by stick-thin models, three size-16 mannequins will be put on show in Debenhams on Henry Street in Dublin. A conventional size-10 dummy will be placed alongside the bigger models so shoppers can see the contrast, and surrounding text will ask, "I'm a size 16, do you want to see more of me?"
The trial is aimed at getting feedback from shoppers. Window mannequins are traditionally size 8/10, even though the majority of female shoppers buy size 14 or 16 clothes. Almost half of fashion sales at Debenhams come from size 14 and 16 purchases.
"It's great the way that shops are finally acknowledging the plus-size model and now plus-size mannequins," Kristi Kuudisim, Ireland's busiest plus-size model from Assets agency, told the Irish Independent. "There should be more for everyone, not just skinnies. I'm definitely busier now compared to when I started modelling six years ago and that reflects changing attitudes here."
The new curvier mannequins are being used by Debenhams to display clothes from a new Principles range designed by Ben de Lisi. Debenhams stocks up to size 26 in its womenswear department. Last month, when it announced plans to trial plus-size mannequins, it had a huge impact and the company quickly doubled its order of curvy mannequins and sent three to Ireland.
"The reaction to the news of the size-16 mannequins has been quite amazing," said Karen Nason of Debenhams in Dublin. "There has been such a positive reaction, we ordered three for Ireland and they will go into windows in Dublin, Cork and Belfast."
Last month the British chain became the first high street retailer to break the taboo of using disabled models in photos.