WHEN I worked in the retail industry part of my job was to merchandise the store, which included dressing the window mannequins and therefore helping to entice customers into the store.
When I was dressing the mannequins I often thought about how unrealistic they looked, not just because they were made of plastic with no faces but because they seemed so much smaller than the average sized woman.
The most popular sizes we sold were 12s, 14s and 16s and we always kept an extra range of these sizes in the stock room.
Catwalk designers always use size four or size six models to display their designs in what they feel is the best way despite alienating potential customers.
As I have mentioned before in previous articles designers like their clothes to look as flat as possible and if they could send their clothes down the runway on hangers they would.
You have to remember however that despite needing sales to keep their business functioning designers are artists who care deeply about how their clothes are displayed and how they look on people and the truth is the majority of catwalk designers feel their clothes look better on smaller models and in fact many don’t even cater for ‘plus size’.
The high street tends to be much more welcoming in terms of who they cater for however they still choose to display their latest looks on smaller than average models.
This may however be all set to change as High street giants Debenhams launch their new size 16 mannequins in their Oxford Street Store and this is set to become a permanent fixture as they roll out this initiative across the UK.
The move has been backed by Equalities Minister Jo Swinson who believes that the fashion industry puts out a negative image that there is only one way to be beautiful, yet nine out of ten people say that they would prefer to see a broader range of body shapes in the media and advertising.
Debenhams hope that by starting the trend other high street stores will catch on and also begin to display their clothing in order to target a more realistic audience and perhaps this may also catch on with the designers.
Mark Fast in fact has used plus size models in several of his catwalk shows and this was met with mixed emotions.
He was praised by the media and women’s movements however was criticised by the fashion media and by his peers (other fashion designers).
Although I feel a range of different sized models is a good thing at the end of the day people will always need clothes and will always buy fashion.
Sometimes I feel if it’s not broken why fix it. Most people are open minded enough to know that if you try something on its going to look completely different from one size to the next therefore I don’t believe that changing mannequin sizes will have much impact on sales or even peoples self-esteem.