Recently, influential political party personnel in Mumbai commented that lingerie display in mannequins is derogatory and shows women in bad light. According to her, women are exposed and their body is portrayed wrongly using mannequins. This leader and her party are looking to pass a bill to stop mannequin displays in Maharashtra. Before a drastic change happens via this uncalled for step, we wanted to dissect the matter a little at our end. We kept pondering over the idea of mannequins for days in order to understand why this marketing tool is treated with such alarm. Needless to say, we hardly have any answers that show us mannequins in a negative light. That’s why; we opened the discussion to real women and retailers. Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth.
Sarmistha Basu – Senior educator An educator by profession, Sarmistha is passionate about imparting the right values to children and held the valuable post of a Co-ordinator and Principal for a lengthy tenor. She is a mother and an army wife, who values nature, animals and finds joy in simple things. An emotional at heart, she also portrays a strong yet bold thought trail.
Believes in freedom of mind and observes everything around her with a clear sight. Here’s her opinion about mannequins.
Lingerie shopping in India is still considered to be a taboo. Nobody talks about it and even if they do so, it is done in hushed tones as if discussing a crime. Since the time I have been wearing undergarments I have been told not to hang them out to dry in the balcony and a simple thing like buying undergarments was a dreaded and shameful thing. I always felt, aren’t they just essential pieces of clothing?
Years have flown by since my youth and times have changed. Now, when I go to the malls and look at the beautifully displayed lingerie section with amazing products, the mannequins in gorgeous lingerie always catches my eye. I admire the beautiful form of the women in her alluring best. These mannequins give me the courage to shop for the correct bra size with the right cup size (a concept I was unaware of till some time before). Therefore from my point of view a mannequin displaying lingerie is definitely not a menace to the society. If we can have men strutting their stuff all the time what is wrong in mannequins? As far as disrespecting women is considered, for me these mannequins are liberating, they tell me not to feel ashamed to be a woman and to rejoice in womanhood. They tell me to be confident and not allow narrow ideas to constrict my thoughts and deeds.
The only word of caution, there is a very thin line between sensual and vulgar. This line should never be crossed as then we end up objectifying ourselves rather than liberating ourselves.
Manoj Khem – Owner Naughty Lingerie Naughty is a reputed name within the lingerie industry and with stores in coveted locales of Kolkata Naughty today is available to every customer around the globe via its online presence. Over the last 17 years, this retail name under the able guidance of Mr. Manoj Khem has been able to diversify its customer reach on one hand and distributor or brand reach on the other hand. From key domestic players to international names like Jockey, Amante, Speedo, and much more, every brand you would want is available at Naughty. Belting out so many years of experience and leading from the helm, Mr. Manoj has always been vocal about his thoughts pertaining to lingerie, here’s what he had to say about our topic of discussion.
When selling potato, if you show onion, will you be able to convince a customer? In a similar vein when selling lingerie or any other garment unless you show the customer what they can expect, how will they make an informed decision about their purchase? Mannequins for me are a demonstrative tool that helps us let our customers know what’s in store. That’s where the usability of importance of mannequins starts and finishes. There is nothing disrespectful about it, especially when we are living in a day and age where a lot of disrespectful things and material is available to the world at the click of a button. We should condemn such influences rather than earmarking something as insignificant as mannequins as a culprit. To rest my case further; I would want to mention that most of us lingerie retailers have women staff in store taking care of women and their lingerie needs. So, there is nothing distasteful or wrong in the approach we take or portray. Probably its only in the mind of people.
Divya Vijayan – Lingerie / Fashion Designer With a strong design background and more than 10 years of experience in design and production Divya also has a Teaching experience of 5 years adding up to 15 years of total working experience in the fashion industry. With both industrial experiences and the education field, she has the skill to train people in the Fashion Industry also. She has worked as a Lecturer at Raffles Design Institute in Kuala Lumpur and Raffles University in Johor Bahru. She has also taught subjects related to Fashion Design & Marketing Fluent in basic Mandarin, Japanese and French Divya is a multi-faceted individual who is always inspiring her next generation to do better. Today she works as a freelance lingerie designer and consultant, also helping brands with sourcing requirements.
Women must learn to appreciate the beautiful form that they have been endowed with, as seen on a plastic mannequin or as a reflection in the mirror. Growing up dressing Barbie dolls, I first made an unconscious note about the woman’s body. Living in Southeast Asia Malaysia, Singapore, retail therapy was a lifestyle choice for us and I enjoyed hitting the Shopping malls with my family. Here, displayed outside each boutique or store where a line of freshly dressed mannequins projecting the hottest trends of the season. Enticed by this display of beautiful clothes, like all shoppers we too were attracted to get inside the store. Outwear, swimwear, and even innerwear were worn by these tall, fair dolls at Robinsons and Takashimaya at Orchard Street.
As a teenager, I too like most young girls wanted to be like those mannequins but destiny and genes had determined I would be petite and small built, which never made me feel any less worthy of the clothes that were displayed on the mannequins. As I remember, wanting more to find my choice of clothes that would be a perfect fit for me. When I put my foot into the fashion industry while studying, I meet a genius designer Chantal Thomass, a woman and a guru of the lingerie world. At her Paris boutique, I looked around in awe at how these mannequins wore her designs reflecting women in their private abode, in a lifestyle. Yes, a very private and personal display of femininity, sexiness but all in a natural setting – done beautifully and elegantly.
Mannequins are man’s creation to sell goods faster and effectively. Some men drool at them but most women admire them. They are never menacing. Society must not look at mannequins as anything more or less than what it is –a doll. Overthinking is detrimental to the mind, so one should see mannequins as an encouraging partner or friend, which greets us outside the store and welcomes us to more merchandise choices inside the store.
Mannequins are appreciated for their existence at stores as they display my creations to perfection. They are to me just an oversized Barbie doll ready to be dressed up for the next lifestyle portrayal.
Aboobaker Khamisa – Co-owner Khamisa Lingerie store A 109 year old lingerie store Khamisa has been known to stock everything latest in terms of lingerie and inner wear since 1910. From catering to celebrity clientele to bringing imported lingerie closer to every woman, Khamisa has pioneered a trend in lingerie retailing for decades now. Apart from their oldest store at Crawford Market, Khamisa today has several other retail outlets at prominent locales in Mumbai. What’s noteworthy is that, with time even when modern retail has become a part of all our lives, women still frequent Khamisa and blindly trusts the collection and offering they have in store.
Retailing lingerie for years, we have always tried to be very respectful towards woman. There is a thin line of difference between being sober and vulgar. So, when you sell lingerie day in and day out it is easier to cross the line and become disrespectful towards woman. However, in the context of mannequin I would want to cite that full body mannequin displays are not too respectful and tend to leave a bad visual flavour. Thus, we personally have always used half mannequins that only display the product and nothing else. Display is a very big part in our sector of business so we have to depend on mannequins as a marketing tool. But all of us should try to avoid full bodied mannequins. These plastic props do display woman’s body in a bad light and ideally woman say it or not, they are bound to feel uncomfortable about it.