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Mannequin Special: The Designers' point of view

By Dipanjan Mukherjee | Vjmedia Works | July 24, 2013

Three independent Indian designers speak on a range of aspects related to mannequins. Read on...

Sanjay  Agarwal,  Managing  Director  at FRDC  The need for mannequins

Mannequins  entice  customers;  they  provide a  real  perspective  to  the  customers  so  that  they can visualize the actual impression of the merchandise before purchasing.

The  emphasis  on  mannequins  in  a  store design concept

 We give a lot of importance to mannequins;  we generally integrate mannequin in a store by placing them in strategic positions. We feel it shouldn't be restricted to the window display area.  Rather,  the  window  should  be  kept minimal  with  lesser  number  of  mannequins infused  into  it,  while  the  inside  of  the  store should flaunt more mannequins.

 The  cost  of  mannequins  for  a  typical premium fashion store as a percentage of the overall spend on the store fit-out

 It's a very difficult brand position; usually the overall cost ends up at 3 percent.

Luxury  brands'  approach  to  mannequin design and development

Luxury brands visualize the person for whom the  garments  are  designed  and  then  they tailor the whole shape and size and finally the mannequin is customized.

Challenges  in  design  adaptation  or localization of global concepts

 Most  of  the  premium  brands  import mannequins,  but  the  lesser  known  and  cost conscious  brands take  up  the  local  route. They especially go for whatever is available in the  local  market  and  they  try  to  acclimatize it.  Cost  being  a  major  constraint;  the  local brands have had to settle for the adaptation of the original mannequins.

The  threat  of  ecommerce  and  videos  to mannequin styling

Mannequins  can  be  displayed  in  varied positions  in  a  store  depending  upon  the brand's  philosophy.  Mannequins  give  a  very realistic  view,  while  the  ecommerce  medium has a certain limit. It's more like seeing a car in  a  video  and  buying  it.  So,  you  just  can't

replace mannequins with ecommerce.

Asha Sairam, Core Design Team, Lotus

Brands vs Mannequins

Typically we have used mannequins in fashion boutiques,  garment  stores  and  multi-brand outlets.  When  garments  are  hung  on  a hanger, they do not give you a sense of what the  garment  looks  like  or  will  feel  like  when put  on  a  human  body.  Mannequins  give  one a  silhouette  of  the  garment,  give  posture  to the  garment  and  a  feel  of  what  it  will  look like when draped on a human body. They help the  consumer  decide  on  the  garment  before making a purchase.

Also, when a mannequin is used as a device in shop  windows  and  within  the  store,  it  helps visual merchandisers put together the look of the season. It helps them represent the trends of the season in a better way with the help of this device (mannequin). Hence, it becomes a very good tool by which you can communicate the trends for a particular season. And for the shoppers, who are not style savvy and who do not knowhow to compose a look, mannequin plays an essential part here.

Luxury brands vs Mannequins

For  high  end  fashion  boutiques,  the  use  of a  mannequin  can  be  done  in  an  interesting manner.  In  our  experience,  they  almost become sculptural pieces in the middle of the store. This is so because the mannequin works with  the  language  of  the  store.  They  blend into the background of the store and also help the garment stand out: bring out the drapery and  flow  of  the  garment.  The  Gaurav  Gupta store in Emporio Mall (by Lotus Team) in Delhi is  a  classic  example  where  the  mannequins have been used in a creative manner to bring out the brand identity. In a nutshell, it is the mannequin  that  acts  as  an  essential  tool  to allow the designer to be expressive.

Challenges

•The quality of mannequins that we ge in India is not sound and up to the mark. Also,  there  aren't  too  many  people  who  have  a ready collection of mannequins.

• Cost  is also  another issue.  We have worked  with  visual  merchandising  agencies  and  they  too  prefer  to  import  mannequins. So it generally comes down to a choice of the posture  that  you  would  like,  how  easily  the mannequin can be fixed and with what ease can a garment be draped on it.

• In a high end fashion store, the mannequin becomes  an  integral  part  of  the  interior experience.  Mainstream  retail  brands  way don't  have  the  luxury  to  be  able  to  use  very high quality annequins.

Lack of awareness on VM

Mannequin  as  a  tool  in  VM  is  primarily common  to  the  West.  Relatively  the  retail market in India is younger. So now the Indian brands are getting to understand how much a  mannequin  can  actually  help  in  visual merchandising.

nevertheless,  the  general  quality  of mannequins  in  a  mall  today  has  vastly improved  from  what  it  was  five  years  back. Brands  like  Mango  and  Zara  have  a  level  of sophistication  in  their  mannequins.  On  the other  hand  it  is  also  about  demand.  If  the Indian  brands  demand  exceptional  quality of  mannequins,  I  think  definitely  the  Indian mannequin  vendors  and  manufacturers will  wake  up  to  that  and  try  to  meet  the expectations of the brands.

The catch with the smaller, independent retail outlets  is  that  they  do  not  understand  the value of Visual merchandising.

VM  is  a  specialized  field,  not  anyone  and everyone can do it. We encourage our clients; the  retail  outlets  that  we  have  worked  with, to set aside a budget for VM in their design work, solely because they value VM or rather say they understand the significance of VM.

 

I  think  VM  is  a  required  need  of  the  market today. Most clients struggle with budget and have budget constraints only due to the lack of awareness of VM. Therefore, the significance of VM I think needs to be recognized first.

Nagaraja  R,  Director  -  Design,  Four

Dimensions (4D)

The need for mannequins

Mannequins  make  the  customer  understand the  flow  of  the  overall  look,  fabric  and composition  of  the  outfit.  It  is  the  easiest and fastest mode of communication to depict the  attitude  and  philosophy  of  a  brand. For  instance,  brands  like uCB  use  a  lot  of mannequins  because  it  allows  the  brand to  execute  the  styling  of  the  dress  and  the thinking of the designer.

The  emphasis  on  mannequins  in  a  store design concept

Emphasis  differs  depending  on  the  product category;  we  have  even  used  mannequins  in a  hand  bag  store.  But  the  emphasis  is  given more  in  an  apparel  related  store.  Earlier  in many Tier I cities too, instead of displaying the merchandise on the mannequins, it was folded and  presented.  But  now  it  has  changed;  the brands are found opting for more mannequins and mainly because it consumes less time for the customer to decide on an apparel.

The cost of mannequins for a typical premium fashion  store  as  a  percentage  of  the  overall spend on the store fit-out.

On  an  average  a  mannequin  would  cost around Rs 8000 to Rs 10,000 and that comes up  to  5%  to  10%  of  the  store  cost.  For  a retail space of 1000 sq ft, which is zoned into three  categories,  we  would  need  at  least  six mannequins.

Luxury  brands'  approach  to  mannequin design and development

Luxury  or  high  end  brands  approach mannequin  designers  to  generate  distinct mannequins  which  depict  their  brand  value while highlighting the product philosophy and style. For example, labels like Zara, Hugo boss, Burberry, design their own mannequins. They create their own prototype, then they concur on  it  and finally  the  mannequin  gets  its shape.  Such  mannequins  are  kept  exclusive to their respective brands.

Challenges  in  design  adaptation  or localization of global concepts

We  have  fashioned  for  Burberry  and  TAG Heuer,  and  when  we  had  done  localization of these brands, they already had their own mannequins  designed.   Even  if  importing gets expensive, they don't compromise on the quality of the display.

The  threat  of  ecommerce  to  mannequin styling with the availability of videos for creating desire for a fashion garment

Digital  has  its  own  way,  and  even  though it  creates  variety  and  enhances  sales, mannequins,  which  are  equivalent  to the  actual  human  size,  portray  a  full demonstration  of  the  outfit  which  can be  perceived  from  every  angle.  Moreover, videos  have  limitations  with  the  present technology.   They  just  provide  a  support  to the mannequins and can't be an alternative option.  Mannequins  will  continue  to  lead unless something unique like holograms get introduced.

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