Shape shifters

moderneVisual merchandising (VM) is all about the designer’s creativity and imagination, producing a form of art that boosts store’s profits, and many believe the most effective form of VM remains the use of mannequins.

Retailers can mould and select mannequins to replicate celebrities or catwalk models. Focusing strongly on their market, manufacturers can select realistic looking models or abstract mannequins without facial contours.

Natural-looking mannequins invoke likeability and desire for a consumer to purchase items of clothing being displayed.

Abstract mannequins have a longer shelf life compared with realistic designs, this style has no age, identity or personality so can appeal to a broader demographic.

Proportion London has created Moderne, a collection of contemporary effects and finishes. Aimed at an edgy retailer interior, the mannequins are made by mixing time tested materials and classical craft methods with colour and streaking effects.

These special finishes include: drip, a dip and drip effect juxtaposing gloss and matt surfaces over saturated canvas; splatter, a freeform paint technique; smudge, an abstract expressionist art effect; and decoupage, using collected paper images captured beneath a satin seal.

It is important to take into account how a mannequin will be used in window or in-store displays, and what fashion they will represent. Andrew Grant, creative director at SFD says: ‘Purchasing a range of mannequins for a store will provide a range of options to help promote any fashion collection. Consideration should be given to what they will be used for, where they will be used and if the poses will be suitable for the clothing they will be wearing.’

Grant continues: ‘Most mannequins are designed so they can be positioned in an aesthetically pleasing way. They are often developed to interact with each other. Badly positioned or grouped mannequins can have a detrimental effect on the creative effect of any display.’

The online generation is increasingly using the Internet as a shopping medium and retailers know that the shop window is their defence against online buying. So retailers are becoming increasingly aware of the growing importance of dynamic visual merchandising. A consumer shopping experience needs to be as exciting as possible in the hope of increasing sales.

ADM has developed Cyberquins, 3D, full size moving figures. Darren Saunders, managing director at ADM says: ‘Enticing consumers inside with realistic animation and great visual displays is fundamental in surviving the ever-expanding and successful e-commerce market.’

The mannequin is more than a device for displaying merchandise; it can be the key representation of a brand. The focus of the consumer looking at a window display will automatically fall on the mannequin.