Commentary by George Anderson
The move away from "size zero" models on runways and in ads has made its way to the retail sales floor. According to a U.K. mannequin supplier, Displaysense, an increasing number of merchants plan to remove rail thin models from stores and replace them with fuller figured versions.
A recent press release from the firm discussed the growing demand for mannequins designed with big booties.
James Crawford, sales director at Displaysense, said, "It seems that curves are back in. It is quite amazing how much power a mannequin can have over the weight conscious people of this country."
Displaysense points to Sir Mix-a-Lot's 1992 hip-hop hit Baby Got Back as the major factor in promoting the "more junk in the trunk" movement. The song and the societal fascination with big bottoms received a boost with Donkey's (Eddie Murphy) performance of the tune in Shrek.
It is almost certain that Jennifer Lopez (aka J.Lo) devotees and fans of the legendary classic rock band Queen will take issue with the Displaysense assertion. Avid fans of Ms. Lopez, or those who simply did a quick search on Wikipedia, know that she began dancing in rap videos in 1990. Fans of Queen know the band released its Fat Bottomed Girls in 1978.
According to the press release, the average dress size for women in the U.K. is 14. Displaysense said that it would begin shipping its "big booty" female mannequins early next year. If successful, the company expects to follow up with a male version. While not mentioned in the release, it seems logical that a male companion to the "big booty" mannequin would emphasize a spare tire and love handles in the "keeping it real" approach of Displaysense.
Discussion Questions: Do you believe mannequins that better reflect the look and sizes of the shoppers in stores make for a more effective display than those designed to reflect some type of thin body ideal? How does this display translate to actual sales?
How strong a push will there be at retail for mannequins that reflect the sizes of real people?