The problem isn’t just on the runway: ‘Black mannequins don’t sell’


There may be constant talk of the need for racial diversity on the runway and in fashion magazines, but did you know that racial diversity doesn’t exist in the wonderful world of window dressing?

It is a world where the blonde-hair blue-eyed mannequins reigns supreme Marc Lacroix, a manager at one of the world’s leading mannequin producers, Cofrad which also owns Patina-V, a maker of ethnically diverse fashion mannequins told AFP.

“Black mannequins don’t sell. Black and Asian models have been doing fine for a long time in the US, and we have customers in Britain. But in France, Germany and Austria, forget it! The Anglo-Saxon world it seems is more open-minded than the old continent.”

But with a reported life spam of 3 to 4 years and a cost of €150 to €1,500 per mannequin there is a lot resting on the shoulders of a visual merchandiser because after colour choice, what about sizes?

And who knew we sub consciously judged a look by its mannequin to that extent? Perhaps that’s why Kim Cattrall was cast as the blonde hair blue-eyed mannequin turned human in the 1987 film, Mannequin.

With mannequins starting to edge into a model’s territory with designers opting for exhibition-style fashion shows rather than the tradition runway show, is this a sign of the times? If so, one can understand their appeal…. i.e. you don’t have to deal with models running late from one show to another or showing up fresh from a party the night before.

Helene Lafourcade, head of visual merchandising for Galeries Lafayette tells AFP that mannequins sales have multiplied fourfold because “mannequins are very important. They’re not just objects you stand up in the store. They’re static salespeople.”

One can’t argue that mannequins have a place in shop windows, but as interesting as fashion presentations can be with mannequins wearing a look, I’d still prefer a model on the runway just so I could see the garments move and show some personality. Unless they all were like Kim Cattrall in Mannequin and (creepily) came alive every now and then.