What's Hot, What's Possible and What's Available

Mannequin manufacturers and retailers talk trends in this exclusive Q&A
Posted February 23, 2007

So just what are the hottest trends in the mannequin industry today? On a recent trip to New York in December, we asked retailers and manufacturers just that.

See VM+SD’s March issue for a full report on what’s going on in the mannequin industry, while below, we offer you an exclusive Q&A for more insight into these breaking trends.

Why can we no longer rely on a standard posed mannequin?

The world has become fashion conscious due to shows like “Project Runway” and all the media coverage at red carpet events. Mannequins must embody this fashion-forward attitude and the poses found in magazines like Vogue or Bazaar.

– Ron Knoth, associate, Goldsmith Inc. (Long Island City, N.Y.)

So how do you reflect that fashion-forward pose in your mannequin designs?

With an emphasis on strong shoulders and active, daring positions. Our “Noche” collection specifically has an almost haughty, smart attitude.

– Ron Knoth, associate, Goldsmith Inc. (Long Island City, N.Y.)

It’s a collaborative process with the retailers on deciding poses. The poses need to be consistent with who the customer is – not just look like Paris Hilton. Retailers need to find the balance between high-fashion poses and how their customer would stand.

– Peter Huston, executive vp, sales and marketing for Fusion Specialties Inc. (Broomfield, Colo.)

Realistic mannequins aren’t for everyone. What advantages do high-end retailers have over mid-tier retailers when working with realistic mannequins?

Stores like Neimen Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue have two advantages: They have the money and a talented visual merchandising staff. Mid-tier stores need a different kind of mannequin – one that the store level employees can work with. Realistic is an extreme niche, and mid-level retailers often can’t afford it. They’re more interested in whatever makes the clothes look good.

– Peter Huston, executive vp, sales and marketing for Fusion Specialties Inc. (Broomfield, Colo.)

Accessories are big right now. How can mannequins be used to best present everything from baubles to bags?

Mannequins offer the ability to present multiple fashion accessories, from sunglasses and bracelets to shoes and earrings – alongside apparel – while infusing the overall visual moment with an attitude, a movement, a wit or a realism that a static dress-maker form or fixture can’t approach.

– Victor Johnson, senior manager, visual presentation, Ann Taylor (New York)

There really isn’t much creativity in accessory display right now, but there’s a huge demand. We’ve created a collection that displays handbags called “Swing” to make the accessory stand out. – Joe Klinow, principal, Mondo Mannequins (Hicksville, N.Y.)

Forms were everywhere this year. How have bust forms been refreshed for a more modern look?

We recently launched the “Couture” bust form collection that has provided a distinctively young and modern look through colors and fabrics, as well as sculpting an entirely new shape. The shape was inspired by Christian Dior’s “New Look” of 1949 – a leaner more elegant figure, with a hint of collar and hipbone.

– Tanya Reynolds, Proportion London (London)

Denim and accessories are hot right now, so there’s been a big resurgence in jeans and bust forms. Materials such as acrylic and vinyl, along with colors and patterned fabrics, give a contemporary twist to forms.

– Roger Friedman, ceo, Bernstein Display (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

What types of mannequin finishes are available for retailers to differentiate themselves?

People are really responding to vacuum metalizing and flocking (sprayed texture). Metallic gold and gold leaf finishes are also very popular right now.

– Richard Rollison, executive vp, Universal Display & Design Inc. (London)

Colors like red, brown or pastel, and our wood grain finish.

– Joe Klinow, principal, Mondo Mannequins (Hicksville, N.Y.)

Click here for "The Skinny on Mannequins," a full report on mannequin trends.