They’re the first thing that springs to mind when picturing a shop window display. Ever since the mid-1800s, mannequins have been an essential part of selling fashion. Starting off as wire-framed body shapes and progressing to the ultra-realistic figures we see today, they have performed a key role in the development of the garment industry, helping designers everywhere to exhibit their wares in style. Now, mannequins are moving into a new era with modern robotics technology helping them to perform more complex and sophisticated roles than ever.
They’ve got the look
Traditionally passive mannequins have a new trick-as customers look at them, some of them are looking back. Micro-cameras positioned in mannequins’ eyes are enabling them to observe shoppers as they pass by or move around a store. As well as performing a security role they can make useful observations about the kind of people visiting the store, enabling managers to tailor their product ranges accordingly. Positioned in window displays, they can see whose attention the display is getting, and they can even interact with customers.
They’ve got the moves
Once within the purview of science fiction, moving mannequins are now a reality. They can really bring a store display to life and customers will flock to see them. Some are designed to mimic customers’ movements, rewarding attention, whilst others can move through a range of pre-programmed poses designed to bring out the best in particular clothes. They can also help customers to appreciate how well-tailored clothes move on the body, and they can make what they’re wearing look a lot more exciting than traditional static displays.
The real thing
Developing technologies also mean that the mannequins of the future will look increasingly realistic. Although plain, glossy models will always be available and look striking in some displays, others are becoming difficult to distinguish from real people. Improved skin textures and a trend toward attention to detail are creating natural looking faces complemented by high quality wigs. More easily adjustable limbs mean high-end mannequins can be posed naturally and without difficulty.
In addition to these improvements, there’s now much more choice available in terms of colour, size and body shape, making it easier to find mannequins that look just right for a particular set of designs. Curvier models that look more like the average woman have been making a splash in some parts of Europe. Customer attitudes to fashion are changing but mannequin design is keeping up, ensuring that astute retail outlets can stay ahead.
A matter of style
Despite all these changes, one thing is for certain going into the future, and that’s that mannequins are here to stay. Even online retail outlets know that clothes look better when stylishly displayed in this way. On the high street, effectively arranged mannequins are essential to making a mark. They make fashion feel real, helping customers imagine how they might look in those clothes, and the fantastic displays they help to create are part of the thrill of the shopping experience.
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