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Mannequins get a makeover to look more real

Mannequins Getting Realistic Makeover
NEW YORK (AP) - The one-size-fits-all mannequin is getting a much-needed makeover.

Wings Beachwear's mannequins in Miami sport flower tattoos like some of the women who shop there. The mannequins at American Apparel's downtown New York City store have pubic hair peeking through their lingerie. And at David's Bridal, mannequins soon will get thicker waists, saggier breasts and back fat to mimic a more realistic shape.

"This will give (a shopper) a better idea of what the dress will look like on her," says Michele Von Plato, a vice president at the nation's largest bridal chain.

Stores are using more realistic versions of the usually tall, svelte, faceless mannequins in windows and aisles. It's part of retailers' efforts to make them look more like the women who wear their clothes. That means not only adding fat and hair, but also experimenting with makeup, wigs and even poses.

This comes after two decades of stores cutting back on mannequins to save money. Many have been using basic, white, headless, no-arms-or-legs torsos that can cost $300 compared with the more realistic-looking ones that can fetch up to $1,500. Now, as shoppers are increasingly buying online, stores are see mannequins as a tool to entice shoppers to buy.

Indeed, studies show mannequins matter when shoppers make buying decisions. Forty-two percent of customers recently polled by market research firm NPD Group Inc. say something on a mannequin influences whether they buy it. In fact, mannequins ranked just behind friends and family in terms of influence.

"Mannequins are the quintessential silent sales people," says Eric Feigenbaum, chair of the visual merchandising department at LIM College, a fashion college in New York City.

Stores for over a century have played with the look of their "silent sales people." Until the early 1900s, the most common ones were just torsos. But with the rise of mass production clothing, by full-length mannequins became popular.

The first ones were made of wax and melted in the heat and had details like human hair, nipples and porcelain teeth. By the 1960s, stores were investing in hair and makeup teams specifically devoted to taking care of the mannequins. That decade also started the trend of mannequins being made in the image of celebrities.

The late Adel Rootstein, founder of mannequin maker Rootstein, created a mannequin based on elfin model Twiggy in 1966. A year later, it made the first black mannequin based on Donyale Luna, the first black fashion model.

The next decade or so ushered in an era of hyper realism, with mannequins showing belly buttons and even back spine indentations, says ChadMichael Morrisette, an expert in mannequin history. But by the late 1980s, the trend moved away from realistic mannequins and toward torsos or mannequins without faces. Now, retailers are doing another about-face.

Saks Fifth Avenue, for instance, spent about a decade using mostly mannequins who were headless or faceless. But in the past two years, the luxury retailer has been showcasing more mannequins with hair, makeup and chiseled features. "There's this whole generation of shoppers that hadn't seen realistic mannequins," says Harry E. Cunningham, a senior vice president at Saks. "We saw it as an opportunity."

Others also see opportunities. Ralph Pucci International, a big mannequin maker that creates figures for Macy's, Nordstrom and others, plans to offer versions with fuller hips and wider waists next year.

David's Bridal also is going for a more realistic look. In 2007, the company scanned thousands of women's bodies to figure out what the average woman looks like and applied those measurements to its first mannequins.

Whereas the original forms were closer to a size 6 with 36-26-36 bust-waist-hip measurements, David's Bridal's Von Plato said the new torso has less of a difference in measurements between the bust and the hip. The breasts are now flatter on top and rounder underneath. And the plus-size mannequins will now show the imperfections of getting heavier, with bulges in certain places like the belly and back.

American Apparel also is going more realistic. The teen apparel retailer known for its racy ads, this month has mannequins in its store in the trendy SoHo shopping district of New York City that are wearing see-through lingerie that reveal pubic hair and nipples.

Ryan Holiday, an American Apparel spokesman, noted the number of customers in the store has increased 30 percent since the debut of the new mannequins. "We created it to invite passersby to explore the idea of what is sexy and consider their comfort with the natural female form," the company.

The windows were attention grabbing, with most people on a recent Friday, stopping, pointing and laughing.

But Allison Berman, 19, thought the realism went too far. "I see this as sexual," says the Manhattan resident.

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Cath's January 29 2014 at 4:30 AM

There's just no substitute for going in and trying clothing on. I've been at both ends of the spectrum in my life, wearing a size 16 complete with body fat and now a size 4 so I understand both sides but it seems a bit exploitive to make mannequins 'realistic' with pubic hair. Let's leave something for the imagination.

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dirockson January 29 2014 at 3:25 AM

well don't think they will show a real plus sized model ... some women have second weddings much later in life at least the size zero will be really gone.

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Gina January 29 2014 at 12:24 AM

It's good they have dress dummies with different shapes. When making clothes, you can't just sew up a top or a dress on a flat, boxey dummy and think it's going to look good on a real person. Having different shapes and sizes is a great idea. The pubic hair on dummies, EW! That's just nasty.

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Vimala Nowlis January 28 2014 at 10:51 PM

Ahhgg! Disgusting. We don't want to see any pubic hair on mannequins. Is anyone out there who does not know mannequins are not real and no women want their pubic hair on display in public?
Saggy breast and back fat? Really? I don't know any woman in shape who has saggy breasts and back fat. Back fat? How over weight do you have to be to have back fat? Do we really want to see out-of-shape slumping lumps in shop windows?
All the boohoohoos are about the wrong thing. In fact, it is us skinning women who are the victims and having trouble finding clothes in stores as there are always racks and racks of sizes 8-14 but only a few for size 4 and 6. If you are size 2, forget it! There are never anything for you. I am a 4-6 and often have to shop in "juniors" section. Size 16 and up not only have the special "women" section but have their own special oversized stores just for them.
In addition, real women (except maybe white women) have butts. But most women's pants, including jeans, never have any butt room. I have to buy a larger size and cinch the waist to make room for my behind. When will clothing manufacturers make pants for real women?

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1 reply to Vimala Nowlis's comment
cmsolbakken January 28 2014 at 11:10 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you! It's awful to go shopping for clothes and everything is boxy and made for somebody without a waistline. I find myself in the Jr. department, just like you, but still have a problem getting something that fits the butt. They assume if you have a booty, you must have a fat stomach too.

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imjovized January 28 2014 at 10:35 PM

About time. lol

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weeeally January 28 2014 at 10:33 PM

Wow, the white mannequins even has pumped up lips. I guess that is today's reality.

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One Bad Bitch January 28 2014 at 10:28 PM

i am so sick of coddling the fatties.......what about us real people who don't have back fat and belly bulges????

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1 reply to One Bad Bitch's comment
RussianBallerina January 28 2014 at 10:45 PM

I completely agree -- what is so real about all that back & belly fat -- exercise & stop eating so much-- pls don't tell me it's your genes, heredity etc!! I don't want to see all those fat manequins I see enough obese people

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1 reply to RussianBallerina's comment
icecraze17 January 28 2014 at 11:06 PM

Then go back to Russia you frigid egoist. ThisIis America.

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yellowbirdhd January 28 2014 at 9:04 PM

ReallY????? What about us ppl that c enuf at Walmart??? Pls no more. Nothing like a woman on the beach with a poodle.

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2 replies to yellowbirdhd's comment
daymeeana January 28 2014 at 9:37 PM

then look the other way

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xanadutu January 28 2014 at 11:45 PM

WTF??? You really shop walmart????
Guess that's you're problem!!!

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diamondbaby1968 January 28 2014 at 8:36 PM

I haven't seen any of the new mannequins in any store but it sounds like a good idea. Now women can see what they may look like in a new outfit and take the proper size and not be disappointed by taking a size 2 sizes too small because it is the size they ALWAYS wore. Now the latest generation,now coming into their early to mid 20's are showing recessive body traits of their grandparents.The men are shorter and heavier,but not as muscular.The woman have broader builds and fuller shape,but just like all generations the height of the new generation of women istall short average just like every generation before them. Seeing the new mannequins will help them understand that their bodies are normal and each woman has their own build,body and look. My generation and the new generation are beautiful and should appreciate the fact that some store managers and stylists see it is a great idea to show women what the true body sizeof women is today. KJK

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charocano January 28 2014 at 7:41 PM

I was once a size 4 and now that I am in my 50's I am a size 8. I could actually wear a 7 but can't seem to find that size anymore. I can't wear the skinny jeans and would like more appropriate sized clothing if possible. If I could see clothing on a heavier model then I could imagine the fit on myself. I see no problems with the difference in sizing not too keen on pubic hair. That might be a bit unnecessary.

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