This is another article written by retail design specialist Linda Cahan www.lindacahan.com that is loaded with useful information for anyone purchasing a mannequin for a retail environment. Linda has 30 years experience in visual merchandising and store design for traditional department stores, specialty stores of all sizes and types, and large corporations.
We love Linda because she says what we would LIKE to say about mannequins, but if we did people might think we are just blowing our own horn because we sell mannequins for a living. This way we have a neutral party, with extensive retail experience sharing her knowledge to help your create a fabulous retail environment.
Here is what Linda says about realistic mannequins versus dress forms:
The image of your store starts in your windows and is defined by the forms or mannequins that display your merchandise.
Your customers are people of all ages, sizes, shapes and personalities, while a mannequin can show only one type of person in one size, one position, one age and one attitude. Finding the right mannequin to represent and attract all your customers is a real challenge yet; the right mannequin can establish the image of your store in the minds of your potential customers.
A high quality realistic mannequin that both reflects your image and gives your customers an image they want for themselves is well worth the effort. Ultimately, the choice between realistic mannequins and forms is up to you, your image and budget. The plus of realistic mannequins in your windows is that they give you the ability to tell better stories. Forms need a lot of fussing with to allow them to tell a story. In order for a form to look more human, it needs a head.
Realistic mannequins in the window combined with great forms on the selling floor are an excellent visual presentation combination. Know you image and your customer and from there, deciding how to work with mannequins and forms will be much easier.
Imagine you are a potential customer. You drive past a bridal store everyday on your way to work and they seem to have a lot of dresses lined up in the window on some type of forms. One day, out of curiosity, you check out a different store. As you drive up you see one mannequin in the window. She has dark hair in a chignon with a long veil trailing along the window floor. Her dress billows out beautifully while she stands in ladylike and refined position. She projects grace, beauty and poise and your desire is to look like her as you walk down the aisle. That is the power of a good, realistic mannequin.
A bad one can look more like one of the cast in “March of the Penguins” or “Leaving Las Vegas.” If you plan to create your image starting in your window it pays (over and over) to invest in a great mannequin. Depending on your budget and the size of your window(s), have two or three. If you can’t do that all at once, add one a year. It’s fine to use forms inside the store.
An important word of advice: never combine forms and mannequins in a window. The illusion of a mannequin is that it’s a real person. When you mix it with headless forms they both suffer in comparison.
Mannequins impact customers by giving them a look to aspire to. Basic forms show just the clothing without imparting a feeling or image. The more interesting the form, the more chance you have to create an image. If your realistic mannequin looks cheap it will reflect directly onto the merchandise. If the form is tacky, so is the dress in the eyes of your customer.