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Mannequin Special : The suppliers' voice

By Dipanjan Mukherjee | Vjmedia Works | July 24, 2013

A few mannequin suppliers talk about demand trends, new developments in mannequin design, production and materials and more...

Lalit Shah, Proprietor - 3S Mannequins

There  are  two  types  of  mannequins;  there is  fiber  mannequin  and  there  is  plastic mannequin.  Fiber  mannequin  is  heavy,  while plastic mannequin is light in weight and easy to  transport.  Fiber  mannequin  is  breakable while plastic is unbreakable and the features you  find  in  plastic  mannequin  you  cannot find  in  fiber  mannequin.  Retailers  prefer plastics as it is a onetime investment for them, while brands prefer fiber as they have to keep on  changing  them  to  build  a  brand  value. Fiber  mannequins  are  also  costly,  compared to  imported  mannequins,  besides  being heavy  weight and  difficult to  transport. Hence  brands generally import mannequins. Even today, after giving  an  order, the  material reaches after 15 days.  Imported mannequins  on the  other  hand are preferred due to heir speedy service. They also come with detailed features, while Indian mannequins  do  not  have  detail-  oriented features.  The  general  quality  of  the  latter  is also no match compared to their international counterparts.

As  for  the  market  for  reused  mannequins  in India, the repairing costs are very high and it becomes expensive to reuse mannequins. The labour charges mount up so high, you might as well buy brand new mannequins.

In  terms  of  the  demand  for  preventive maintenance  and  repair,  manufacturing companies usually take care of this, but if you take on this as an outsourced business, then it becomes really expensive. The damages are at around 15%-20%.

Dhaval Phadke, Proprietor - Aakar Mannequins

For  the  last  2  -3  years,  the  mannequins business has been heavily fluctuating due to the easy availability of Chinese mannequins in the  Indian  market.  In  terms  of  new  demand patterns, retailers today are demanding more of black, white, headless and  sitting mannequins, besides  matt and  gloss finish  ones.  All mannequins  of global standards are  available now  in  India.  In some  cases  we customize  as per  the requirement  of the  market.  But this  increases our  cost  factor  too.    The  share  of  reused mannequins  in  the  market  is  about  20  to 25%, but it is important to look at the quality and finish because it is ultimately a business of aesthetics. We advice our clients to go for repair and finishing work every two to three years, so that the life span of the mannequins increases.

 

Alex Chandy, CEO, Nippon Mannequins

Business in the past year has been good and in fact better than the previous year. There has been a 30 per cent increase in sales. The new trends can be seen in the demand for abstract and ceramic finishes (ceramic glossy finishes), as  these  are  easier  to  maintain  and  classier looking.  Also,  today  hardware  is  mostly imported  (unbreakable  fingers,  shoulder lockers)  as  locally  the  same  quality  is  not being procured.

 

Indian  mannequins  match  up  to  80  percent in  comparison  with  the  best  available globally,  but  they  are  not  completely  up  to the mark. The challenges are in terms of the pricing. quality  is  compromised  for  cost  and customers are okay with slight imperfections. Imported  mannequins  are  definitely  better. Workmanship is less. In terms of pricing, the challenges  are  lack  of  subsidies  from  the government, the rise in prices of raw materials and  the  lack  of  a  governing  body  for  this industry. prices  cannot  be  increased  due  to competition.

 

The  reused  mannequins  market  is  not  in  an organized  format.  Those  who  cannot  afford the regular, buy the reused mannequins. There is no special industry like the ones abroad for these.

 

As  for  maintenance,  an  annual  maintenance contract  is  maintained  with  the  client.  With the demand rising, more people are added and constant checking is being done

 

Sanjeev Magon, Chief Executive, Jambudweep Impex

As far as the big brands like Mango, Zara etc are concerned, they customize their mannequins. In  most  cases  they  get  their  mannequins imported  from across the globe from their long- term  partners (man nequin manufacturers) and  they  don't want  to  play with  national manufacturers. Also,  because their mannequin requirement  is not  voluminous,  they  can  afford  to  import or  purchase  a  decent  annequin  worth  Rs 25,000-30,000.  A  local  brand  on  the  other hand cannot afford this.

 

There  is  no  market  for  reused  mannequin  in India, as it would need repair. It would be prone to damage and breakage every time it is used. This would not be convenient and will invite heavy maintenance cost. Both nationally and internationally, there is no demand/market for reused mannequins.

 

Today everything is expensive, right from real estate  to  in  store  design.  Mannequin  forms a very small fraction of the total investment that is put in a store. So nobody would like to compromise on the quality of the mannequins.

Anand Doshi , Proprietor, FY Trading

Demand  for  mannequins  has  increased  over  the years. Most fashion brands have doubled their  mannequins  in  store  in  the  last  five years.   Till  about  a  few  years  back,  retailers wanted mannequins that were more realistic with features of an average Indian. The trend as changed in favour of more Western bodies and  abstract oval  shaped faces  without features or even headless  ones. There  has  also been  variation in  the  colour  of the mannequins. In terms of new developmen t s in  design, p r o d u c t i o n , materials  and  hardware  used,  most  retailers prefer  handmade  fibre  glass  mannequins, with  some  going  for  plastic  ones  which are  machine  made,  though  the  quality  and measurements  differ  between  these.  But  I would  say  that  Indian  mannequins  are  of international standards with good pricing. As far as the market for reused ones is concerned, there is limited demand for it in India.

 

Shyam Harpalani, Proprietor, M/S Facelift Mannequins

There  has been  a  gradual slowdown  in comparison  to last  year  in  this business .  As for  new  trends, there  has  been some changes in terms of colours used.  Besides, there  is  a  rising demand  for  featureless  mannequins  which are currently in vogue. India has a long way to go before reaching international standards, especially the kinds seen in Europe. quality of paints and paint shops are a hurdle in providing good  quality.  Where  reused  mannequins are  concerned,  clients  only  refurbish  their mannequins  as  and  when  required.  In  terms of preventive maintenance and repair, when a client is tired of acertain look, he chooses to give  a  facelift. new  designs  and  postures  are then sent. But the demand is the same.

 

Summing up

While  it  is  a given  that  mannequins  are  an indispensible  part  of  the  store  aesthetics and  herefore  the  store  experience  that  can translate into sales, it is also obvious that there is still a long way to go in terms of the quality of mannequins available in India. On one hand, there is a greater onus on the retailer to demand better quality and set benchmarks. On the other hand,  there  is  also  perhaps  a  need,  now  more than  ever,  for  the  mannequins  industry  to  get organized,  have  a  body  to  represent  collective interests  and  set  in  place  parameters  in  terms of  quality  and  pricing.  It  is  also  perhaps  time to  look  closer  into  the  whole  economics  and dynamics  of  reused  mannequins  so  that  an organized industry can emerge out of it and the market  can  be  in  sync  with  global  trends  that are increasingly going the sustainable way.

 

Ravi Verma, Proprietor - Clone Mannequins, on business, challenges and more…

Business has  been  pretty  good  in  the  past pear.  There  has  been  a  lot  of  demand from  retailers.  Styling,  upgradation,  new applications  and  colours  are  introduced from  time  to  time.  Besides,  retailers  are demanding  for  international  looking mannequins with the same quality without having  to  pay  more,  which  is  the  biggest challenge.

 

Challenges

Retailers have their own set of thinking and pre-conceptualized  ideas.  We  need  to  read their minds, address their needs and balance that  with  quality  and  pricing. price  game (restriction)  for  quality  mannequins  is  for me  the  biggest  challenge  in  this  industry. But even with the restricted pricing, we still offer the best. A typical mannequin in Clone costs Rs 6,000.

 

The reason for the price constraint is basically the fact that retailers have set budgets and do not want to compromise on the area, so they compromise on the purchase of mannequins resulting  in  poor  quality  and  durability. Internationally,  the  mannequins'  prices  are higher and the quality is exceptionally good.

Other challenges

• Need for upgradation

• Unorganized/difficult market

Mannequin  demands:  International  vs Indian

International  brands  go  for  a  particular mannequin  for  a  particular  season  for  may be six months or a year. This is not happening in India. The India market has to understand that  a  typical  mannequin  or  one  kind  of mannequin  cannot  fit  in  a  store  during  all seasons because the garments are completely different. Mannequins need to be changed at regular  intervals  owing  to  seasonal  changes. Both Indian and western garments are draped on  the  same  kind  of  mannequin  which certainly does not bring out the feel and look of the garment. This is a catch for the Indian retailers and the issue needs to be addressed. Internationally, the mannequins are different in  color,  cuts,  style  and  the  overall  body language of the mannequin is brought forth differently  according  to  seasons.  Indian retailers  have  to  upgrade  themselves  with regard to VM. The VM budget should also be given or set aside by retailers from the retail point  of  each  store  for  long  maintenance  of mannequin.

 

International stores and Mannequins

International brands follow a set of styles with their mannequin. They already have their own set of vendors, they negotiate price and they get their demands fulfilled. When it comes to India,  the  requirement  is  not  voluminous  in terms  of  mannequin  demand  and  supply;  it solely depends on the number of store(s) that are opening in a year.

 

The brand Zara is a classic example. The store is not hoarded with mannequins and the store has been conceptualized in a way that it offers space  for  walk-ins,  the  interior  engages  the people and the mannequins are all customized according to the collection of garments that is coming in the store. The mannequins are also upgraded  time  to  time  in  view  of  seasonal changes and new trends in apparels. So India suppliers need to understand that the kind of mannequin also matters. A mannequin should speak the language of the brand.

 

In a chat with VM&RD, Verghese Joseph, Managing Director, Tranz Mannequins Pvt. Ltd shares

his insights on the varied aspects of the mannequins business. Read on…

How has business been in the past year?

Business has been pretty good and challenging last  year.  The  challenges  were  more  on  the volume  requirements  and  finishes.  Most  of the existing brands were on a retail expansion mode through which they were also upgrading their  existing  mannequin  styles  to  match international standards.

What were the new trends in mannequin demand for brands and retailers in the last year?

Mannequin  is  an  important  tool  to  depict the  brand  and  therefore  plays  an  important role  in  store  design.  Today  the  mannequins are  extensively  used  inside  the  store  to communicate the brand offerings along with the show window concept. While most of the brands  and  retailers  have  been  upgrading their mannequins last year, there have been a lot of requirement for abstract glossy finishes. The  retail  trend  in  India  had  initially  started with  REALISTIC mannequins  and  moved  to FEATuRED  and  now  to  ABSTRACT  forms.  The body form and fit of the mannequins has also changed  to  slimmer  styles  along  with  trend and look. We also came across retailers who have been xperimenting with newer postures and finishes for their retail stores.

What are the new developments in terms of mannequin design, production, materials and the hardware available and used now?

We  have  been  upgrading  the  mannequin designs  /  finish  /  quality  and  production through  retail  visits,  exhibitions  and  various researches  across  the  globe.  We  have  our own  design  and  sculpting  team  working  on newer  mannequin  design  offerings  to  our clients  /  customers.  The  basic  raw  material in mannequin production remains the same which  is  mainly  resin  and  fibre  glass.  Most of  the  materials  and  hardware  required for  mannequin  production  are  made  and available  in  India  and  only  mechanisms related  to  locks  and  fingers  are  imported from  other  countries.  We  have  also  been introducing  different  techniques  on mannequin assembly, making the mannequin assembly easier and faster for our customers.

Are  mannequins  available  in  India  of global  standards?  If  not,  what  are  the challenges that are creating this gap?

Today in India the biggest issue at the retail store is the maintenance of the mannequin. Some  brands  in  the  past  had  imported mannequins wherein the challenge was the after-service of the mannequins. The Indian mannequin industry has been upgrading the mannequin  finish  and  quality  as  per  global standards offering maintenance of the same at the retail stores after display. So, yes, I would say the mannequins available in India are of global standards.

So  what  is  the  demand/market  for mannequin  preventive  maintenance  and repair?  With  the  demand  rising  what have you done to address it?

Mannequin  is  a  product  which  has  to  be handled with lots of care, if not maintained properly  it  can  be  damaged.  We  have  a dedicated  service  team  which  provides annual  maintenance  to  our  clients.  We also  conduct  mannequin  maintenance seminars  to  educate  our  customers  on  the implementation and handling of mannequins so that they do not have major defects while in the store.

 

There is also a major requirement for services from users of imported mannequins as there is  no  direct  representation  by  international manufacturers in the Indian market.

Is there a market for reused mannequins in India? How does this work?

There  is  definitely  a  huge  requirement  for reused mannequins and they are sold to the unorganised  sector  that  does  not  invest  in new  and  better  quality  mannequins.  Some brands and retailers invest less and try using reused  mannequins  to  create  concept  for their events / bookings / shows etc.

 

In conclusionit's pretty clear that the importance of good quality mannequins has become more important than ever owing to the transformation of the retail environment. The customer is clearly demanding nothing but the best with benchmarks stretching to global brands leaving all the stake holders to look at investment in the development, design, selection and production. Clear  challenges  have  been  identified  by  them  and  the  results  of  them  being  addressed  are already being seen in the shopping environments. Finally, the Indian shoppers benefits with a better shopping experience and will hopefully go home delighted with over flowing shopping bags and leaving happy retailers smiling to the sweet sound of ringing tills!

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