How well do mannequins actually represent their brand?

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In retail, window displays are one of those most prominent identifiers for a store. They show what’s in stock, they show the theme of the store, and they are the store’s first chance to grab a shopper’s attention.

“If I see a shirt that I like [in a window display], I’ll be like ‘oh, that’s cute’ and it will give me ideas for outfits of my own,” said shopper Nicole Shriner.

H&M at Meridian Mall in Okemos, Mich.
Taken by Kelly Sheridan

Manager of H&M in the Meridian Mall of Okemos, Michigan, Jessica Armor says every store has a different approach to their marketing displays. She says some stores can change their displays up to every two months, but at H&M, they change it every two weeks.

“All of it kind of depends on retail and fashion in general,” Armor said. “It almost works all cohesively so that we can quickly revolve the product to the customer.”

Often times, in stores like H&M, the window display is accompanied by mannequins throughout the store. Armor says everything is done purposefully so consumers can easily access the outfits.

“The mannequins we have right in the front of the store as you walk in match the mannequins in the window, and all of those outfits are right in the front.”

Armor also says that each display is strategically placed in certain areas of the store, depending on how much traffic those areas get.

“We generally, over a weekend, have to change those outfits between a Friday and a Monday because we sell through that product so quickly,” Armor said. “Then as product ages within the building, it gets put in less trafficked areas.”

H&M at the Meridian Mall in Okemos, Mich.
Taken by Kelly Sheridan

However, while these mannequins are able to display a store’s clothes and outfits, there aren’t usually body variations with the mannequins. They are only distinguishable by male or female, or a child mannequin.

The H&M located in Meridian Mall is a smaller version of the store, so they don’t have much room for their plus size section. Because of this, there is no room for larger mannequins in the store.

On the other hand, TORRID, a store designated to plus sizes has mannequins that only represent those figures. Assistant Manager Kelsey Ries says stores like TORRID humanize their figures.

TORRID at Meridian Mall in Okemos, Mich.
Taken by Kelly Sheridan

“It makes you feel human when you walk in,” Ries said. “People exist that are plus size and if they only have the one [section], they’re not going to be catered to like they should be like everyone else is.”

Reis also says stores need to do a better job at creating clothes that are cut specifically for bigger women, instead of just larger sizes of the usual clothes they create.

“A lot of stores they make the mistake of just blowing up all the clothes for the skinny girls, and it just doesn’t look right,” Reis said. “You’re not going to get a good idea of what it’s supposed to look like on you if you’re just looking at weird skinny women that don’t have heads wearing clothes that you can never wear.”

TORRID at Meridian Mall in Okemos, Mich.
Taken by Kelly Sheridan

Regardless of whether it is a plus size store or a regular store, Shriner says all stores need to do a better job at creating a variety of mannequins.

“Short-tall-skinny, short-fat, tall-fat, even different skin color maybe,” the shopper said.

Shriner believes she’s seen some progress and hopes it continues to get better.

“I feel like some companies are doing more in trying to be diverse and hit a bigger market and understand where their consumers are coming from, but who’s to say.”

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