Pretty Plastic People


Do your mannequins sell 'the dream look?'

Mannequins are strong visual stimulants. They give the consumer ideas of what goes together. They influence what people will wear. If a new fashion trend is to combine two colors not usually coupled together, consumers will start to accept the new trend after 1) seeing it on the runway, 2) seeing it on mannequins, and then 3) advertised. Mannequins are important merchandising tools.

Oh, what I have seen in dealerships. Dealers don't make dream creations using mannequins; in fact, they look more like nightmares.

The biggest problems? Placement and incorporation of attire. If your mannequin is not appropriately attired for the area it's in (as well as for the adjacent area), it misses the point, meaning your customers will, too. If you place a mannequin next to a street bike, for example, you need to make sure the mannequin is wearing street gear.

I've included a list of do's and don'ts for using mannequins in your showrooms and accessory areas. If you've been unsure of how to properly utilize these visual aids, this list should help you.

Mannequins are great when they're used properly. I prefer to use the mannequin replacement ("MR") versions that are 3/4-full round torsos without heads on sturdy stands. These pseudo forms give enough of an idea for a customer to visualize a head on that outfit, not some artificial face.

Finally, when you're finished placing and dressing your mannequin, step back and consider the message it's conveying, and whether it matches with the dream you're trying to create.

If you haven't used mannequins before, consider doing so. Here's a partial list of companies that supply mannequin forms: Almax Canada Inc. (, Bernstein Display (, DK Display (, Goldsmith ( Mondo ( Oz (, and Roos (

Merchandising 101 teaches tactics to make your retail space stand out. Christy Michaud is a retail merchandising specialist at Tucker Rocky Distributing. E-mail questions and comments to