Kiwi clothing swimming on petite dummies

16:00, Nov 29 2013
Mannequin graphic
Fashion mannequins

Standard fashion mannequins continue to be tall with childlike proportions despite the average New Zealand woman being a size 12-14. The fashion industry dictates a size 12 woman is plus size.

They're in every clothing store's window – at malls, central-city shopping arcades and online.

You will find them hovering as you flick through clothing racks searching for your size.

Realistic mannequins?
Realistic mannequins?

The mannequin.

The fashion industry has long projected an unrealistic image of what a woman's body should look like but when retailers are forced to pin even the smallest of clothing sizes to ensure they fit the mannequins, has it gone too far?

Fran Tyrrell from Miller Studios, which provides shop fit outs and mannequins, said one of the most popular brands in the country was from a company called mei+picchi.


"And those are pretty skinny," she said.

"They're meant to be about a size 8 to 10 ... but a lot of clothes are too big on them so I would say they're more of a small size 8 and probably even smaller."

Sales assistant Nicole Botherway from Recycle Boutique at The Tannery said mannequins were always taller than the average woman so they looked "more streamlined in any size".

She described standard mannequins as "legitimately tiny, with Barbie doll measurements".

Most clothes – including size 8s – needed to be pinned back, she said, and estimated they were more of a size 4 to 6.

Botherway said mannequins should have more realistic proportions because they were meant to show the customer what clothes would look like on them.

She had only seen plus-sized mannequins in shops that catered to curvier women.

Bee Smith, manager of The Palms branch of City Chic – a shop for women between size 14 and 22 – said the standard mannequins in popular stores, such as Glassons and Supre, were "absolutely tiny".

"The average size in New Zealand is 14 and you'd be surprised how many customers comment on small mannequins and it makes them think they can't shop there."

They projected "unrealistic ideals" of what a woman's body should look like, she said.

Director of Christchurch-based Portfolio Model Agency, Mel Radford Brown, said in the last two years she had noticed more clients looking for bigger models and the agency's bookers were "always on the lookout for a nice plus size girl".

But she said there was too much attention on what mannequins, and models, "should and shouldn't be".

"People shouldn't take it so personally because it's about shopping for what is right for you."

The Press showed some Re:Start Mall shoppers images of a standard mannequin and a plus-sized mannequin and asked what they thought of the two.

Samantha Tobin, 19, felt mannequins were "advertisements saying that's what size we should all be".

Sue Finderup said New Zealand women tended to be "slightly heavier" but said she would never call the larger mannequin plus sized.

Kay Taiaroa thought the plus-sized mannequin was more representative of New Zealand women and more attractive.

"The [standard mannequin] is more of a young girl's shape whereas [the plus size mannequin] is a 20s plus figure."

Fairfax Media