Buying a mannequin – even a used one – can be expensive, so here are some tips to help you select the right style of mannequin for your needs. Whether you have an online store, retail store or sell at a trade-show, your mannequins are an extension of your brand. Choosing the right one and either enhance or detract from your image and products.

Headless mannequin
Headless mannequin

There are four basic styles of mannequins
1 Realistic
2 Abstract
3 Headless
4 Bendable

This post discusses headless mannequins. This post discusses realistic mannequins. The other styles of mannequins as well as how to select the right pose for your mannequin are discussed in individual postings in our “How to select the right mannequin for your business” series on our

Headless Mannequins as the name implies, these mannequins have no head, they stop at the neck. The neck might be elongated, a straight cut or have a decorative element on top.

The rule in visual merchandising used to be mannequins with heads in the storefront window to catch the eye of passerby and headless mannequins inside the store. But this is no longer the case. However one rule still holds fast – do not mix headless mannequins and mannequins with heads in the same display together – whether in the window or in a group inside the store.

While the vast majority of headless mannequins on the market are painted gloss white, matte white, or eggshell white, many retailers are opting for headless mannequins in metallic finishes like gold and chrome to stand out from the sea of generic white mannequins.

Gold Headless Mannequin
Gold Headless Mannequin
Headless Mannequin Copper Color
Headless Mannequin Copper Color

Headless mannequins are usually less expensive than one with a head. But a lifelike looking headless mannequin made out of high quality materials from a top notch manufacturer can cost more than an imported mannequin from China that has a head.

Expensive headless mannequins have subtle details such as a clavicle, individual fingers with fingernails, abdominal muscles, rib cage, nipples etc that give them a more life-like look than cheaper mannequins. This also makes the clothes hang better on the mannequin.

Where the real savings comes in for a headless mannequin is there is no hair or make-up to be maintained. And headless mannequins do not “age” as quickly as a mannequin with a head because there is no hairstyle to identify the mannequin to a particular era. Of course you can not accessorize a headless mannequin with hats, sunglasses or earrings.

A headless mannequin with a lifelike body
A headless mannequin with a lifelike body

Some Ebay sellers turn a headless female mannequin around backwards and use the mannequin to photograph men’s shirts – that is really stretching your visual merchandising dollars!

There are two schools of thought regarding the anonymous nature of a headless mannequin. Some prefer headless mannequins because they direct customers to look at the clothing, instead of possibly being distracted by the persona of the mannequin. Others believe headless mannequins make it harder for people to visualize or fantasize themselves in the clothing.

If you can’t decide whether to go with heads or headless look at what the vendors that you want to emulate and let that be your guide. Maybe you want to do the same thing, perhaps you want to do something different to stand out. Current trends and the type of clothing you are displaying may impact your decision as well.

One way to inject some “personality” into a headless mannequin is to vary the type of pose the mannequin is in. I go into more detail about selecting the right pose for your mannequin in another posting, but here are some photos to give you an idea of how different a headless mannequin can look.

Headless mannequin with an athletic build
Headless mannequin with an athletic build
Headless Mannequin with Curves
Headless Mannequin with Curves

A brand new headless mannequin from a high end manufacturer can cost between $500 and $800. Mannequins imported from Asia can retail between $99-$250. The disparity in price comes from the quality of the materials used, thickness of the fiberglass, type of paint, and craftsmanship of the mannequin.

A lifelike,mannequin is still made the way they’ve been made for more than 100 years. A sculptor makes a form from a live nude model. Cheap mannequins are made by machines and resemble dolls and look stiff instead of fluid. Stand a quality mannequin and a cheap mannequin next to each other and there is a noticeable difference.

The attachment arm and leg fittings on cheap mannequins are aluminum or plastic (painted to look like metal) instead of metal which is found in the more expensive mannequins. The stands on cheaper mannequins are not as strong or sturdy as expensive mannequins.

These are some of the reasons why you can pay more for a used mannequin made by a high end manufacturer than a brand new mannequin imported from China. Think used Mercedes versus new Hyundai.

Headless mannequin in a yoga pose
Headless mannequin in a yoga pose

As a rule of thumb the more expensive the items you are selling, the better the quality of mannequin you should use. For example the type of mannequin at JC Penney is different that what you’d see at Neiman Marcus.

Retail stores where the mannequins have to be the latest trend, look good and durable enough to withstand frequent clothing changes and manhandling (by lots of staff and customers) buy the more expensive mannequins. Not everyone needs to pay the premium prices of these.

You can either buy gently used versions of the high end mannequins (see list of manufacturers below) or buy the better quality imports from China. These imports are ideal for online vendors, smaller boutiques or people who use a mannequin infrequently say at trade-shows or for seasonal displays.

Here are some of the high end mannequin manufacturers:
Rootstein Patina V Goldsmith Hindsgaul Greneker Pucci
Silvestri CNL Mannequins Fusion Specialities Schlappi

This guide is written by Judi Townsend of Mannequin Madness, www.MannequinMadness.com. Mannequin Madness sells new and used mannequins and also repairs and recycles mannequins. All of the images in this posting are of mannequins that we have carried or currently carry in our inventory.

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