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Brief Published: 9 Apr 2013

Swedish Dept. Store’s ‘Real-Size’ Mannequins Go Viral


Bloggers and social media users across the globe have applauded Swedish department store Åhlens for introducing plus-sized mannequins in its lingerie department.

At the time of writing, two photographs of the unusually curvy mannequins posted on Facebook by US blog Women’s Rights News last month scored a remarkable 64,556 ‘likes’ and 20,083 shares with viewers around the world posting appreciative comments such as: “Now they look real! Thanks!”

The viral online reaction underscored that female consumers appear to be hungrier for retailers to promote more varied and realistic body types; whereas store mannequins are typically a US size 4 or 6 (UK 8 or 10), the average American woman wears a size 14 (UK size 18).

The photo was originally taken by blogger Silvekroon, who’s since set up a Facebook page and website titled Swedish Mannequins with the mission statement: "Let us try to change the way retailers think when they are about to purchase new mannequins. And let's try to change the way mannequins are produced by manufacturers.”

While some retailers have reservations that more curvaceous models belie the aspirational appeal of fashion, many are beginning to take notice of consumers’ calls.

In our coverage of A.R.E Retail Design Collective, Stylus highlighted how Paris-based manufacturer Manex was finding an increasing number of major mainstream retailers were approaching them regarding plus-size mannequins. Spanish fast-fashion chains Zara and Mango have also vowed to introduce more realistically sized mannequins after Spanish shoppers complained about its super-skinny versions to the country’s Ministry of Health.

More broadly, brands’ responses to the growing appetite for more relatable role models – both in fashion and other industries – is explored in New Brand Ambassadors.

Meanwhile, another example of a Swedish retailer subverting industry norms came late last year, when toy company Top Toy reversed children’s gender stereotypes in its Christmas 2012 catalogue.

For more on new directions in mannequin styling, see GlobalShop: VM & Packaging.