Mannequins have always been fascinating to us human beings. Be it a kid or a grown up, we all tend to stop for a moment to admire those life-size dolls, flaunting their perfect figure in a perfect outfit. (A gentle reminder: an outfit that looks awesome on a mannequin might not look that good on you) Apart from being unrealistically perfect, these dummies play a major role in promoting current trends and driving sales in a retail store. So let’s have a look at the market of these fashionable and stylish dolls in India and what the future entails for them.
The use of mannequins to display merchandise is gaining importance in market every year. From small retailers to high end fashion brands, every retail store is incomplete without these life-size dummies. Few retailers and visual merchandisers of well known brands such as Allen Solly, Zara, Benetton India also agree with the same and says that garments displayed on mannequins sells 43 per cent faster.
Materials used for manufacturing mannequins
Fashion Mannequins were first introduced in the 1900s in France and were manufactured using papier-mâché. Later, wax was used to produce more lifelike appearance and then in 1920s wax was replaced by a more durable composite made with plaster.
Nowadays, mannequins are made using variety of materials, the primary ones being fibreglass and plastic. The fibreglass mannequins are usually more expensive and comparatively less durable than the plastic ones but are significantly more realistic. Plastic mannequins, on the other hand are cheap and more durable.
As of now, use of eco-friendly materials in manufacturing mannequins has not been undertaken by most of the brands but there are a few manufacturers in India such as Global Mannequins and Manneking who utilise imported recycled and reusable plastic material for manufacturing mannequins.
Variety of Mannequins
Currently in the market, there are more than 1000 different kinds of mannequins in different sizes, colours, pose, material and finish. They are available in full body length, half body, kids and teens mannequins and also in variety of body sections such as head, legs, hands and torso. They are available in basic colours such as Black, White, Skin and with different kinds of finishing such as metallic chrome or glossy finish.
The standard size of the mannequins is 5 feet 10 inches height with 32-24-36 measurement for females and 6 feet height with 40-32-38 measurement for males. These sizes may vary depending on the need of the retailers.
Modern mannequins are featured with various body parts which can be bent and positioned in different angles, depending on the postures required by the retailers. In lingerie stores, generally basic colours such as Black, White and Skin with a glossy finish are most in demand. Other than that, most of the mannequins manufacturers in the market supply customised mannequins too.
Role of mannequins in retail stores
Since many years, mannequins have been used as a valuable marketing tool in the apparel retail sector. These attractive zero figure mannequins communicate with the customers through visual merchandising and at the same time, are also responsible for enhancing the ambience of the store.
When clothes are displayed on the mannequins at the store, the customer can analyse what kind of collection do the store has and what can the store deliver to the customer, before even entering the store.
Displaying is not the only purpose of mannequins they can also help the customers understand the usage of the product. Every occasion needs different sets of clothes, for example, activewear for gymming and sports, bridal wear for a wedding and a swimsuit for beach. Mannequins can effectively showcase which apparel to wear, when and how. Therefore, they are not only responsible of selling the clothes but also other accessories such as jewellery, eyewear, footwear, etc that go with the product.
Mannequins can be called as trendsetters in the fashion retail industry because when any new trend or style is introduced, we first see it on them. They are the ones who notify the customers what new products have arrived in the store. They have effectively become an important aspect in attracting customers to the store.
In lingerie retail stores, these dummies’ poses vary from seated, to reclined to standing. In single MBOs, the ones with the standing poses are preferred whereas in modern retail stores, dummies in sitting and lying poses are preferred. Small lingerie retailers usually prefer bust, half body and torso mannequins.
According to Mr Naveen Agrawal, Proprietor, Mannequins World, almost 90 per cent of customers prefer white coloured mannequins. Talking about the most common demand of customers in this segment, Mr Lalit Shah, Owner of Global Mannequins who supplies mannequins to brands such as Killer, Raymond and Siyarams says that for lingerie and nightwear, customers either ask for full body or half body mannequins depending on the size of the store. “If the store is small, they take half body dummies and if the store in big then they take full body mannequins,” he adds.
Neerav Haresh Vasani, Proprietor, Manneking says that in lingerie, full body plastic mannequins are the most in demand. “Earlier only half body, bust and torso were used but now we get orders for full body mannequins for lingerie,” he added.
On the other hand, Mr Nikhil Mehta of Mehta Hangers and Mannequins says that generally customers prefer half fiber mannequins and variety of hangers for the display of lingerie and nightwear.
Market Scenario in India
With the changing times, mannequins in the market places too have evolved, keeping up with the latest trends and styles. Nowadays, the mannequins are more glamorous, more athletic, more flexible, more real and have better pitching personality.
The average price of the mannequins starts from INR 2,000 and goes up to INR 20,000 depending on the sizes. The customised ones are a bit higher on prices going up to INR 45,000.
When asked about the current market scenario in India for mannequins, Mr Shah responded, “This past one year the market has been in decline by 25-30 per cent. According to me, the reason for this is the slowdown in economy. There’s no demand in the market and it is affecting many businesses in India.”
“Nevertheless, I have a positive feeling that even though it might take some time, the market will rise and grow in the future,” he added.
While the growth in the segment has been in decline for Mr Shah, this past year, Mr Naresh Dharmani, Owner of Ken Mannequins has witnessed 10-20 per cent growth in the segment. When asked about his opinion on the future scope in this segment, he said, “There will be growth in the near future also for mannequins. The demand will increase. Earlier, only big stores and retailers used to display garments on mannequins, nowadays even small retailers are following the trend, which further increases the demand.”
This year has been equally great for Manneking too. The company that supplies mannequins to designers such as Nivedita Saboo, Kunal Rawal and brands like Pretty Secrets, VIP Clothing, etc have witnessed 50 per cent growth from 2018-19 to 2019-20. According to Mr Vasani, the demand for local mannequins in India is improving because of the sudden outbreak of Novel Coronavirus in China. “This in turn is providing business to the local manufacturers of mannequins in India,” he added.
When asked about the future scope of the segment, Mr Vasani said, “The retail segment is expanding in India, not only in Tier 1 but also in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, which has tremendous growth potential. And as long as we keep on producing such high quality-oriented mannequins, our company is sure to see a bright future ahead.”
Mr Ali Mohammed Khan, Proprietor, Indian Mannequins says that this year has not been very good for his business. Mr Khan’s company manufactures mannequins made with premium quality fibreglass and resin. They supply mannequins to brand like Hidesign, Red Chief, Lifestyle, etc and also export mannequins to a few countries such as US, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, etc.
According to Mr Khan, plastic mannequins which has covered larger part of the market recently are giving a tough competition. “As these plastic mannequins are imported from China, they are cheaper in rate and therefore is responsible for capturing large market share in India,” he added.
Sharing his point of view with us, Mr Agrawal says, “There has been a continuous growth in this segment in India. We have seen growth of about 10-15 per cent in our business. We have also exported mannequins to Iraq, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Dubai along with our customers in India such as US Polo, Levis, Patanjali, etc.”
“According to me, the market will only grow in the future. Nowadays, stores in mall or on the streets, everyone has started displaying clothes on mannequins. Earlier, there were salesperson in each store who used to show all the products and arrange them back on the rack. Nowadays, as mannequins have been installed everywhere, there is no need of the extra staff and customers can shop on their own,” explained Mr Agrawal.
The market has remained the same for Mr Mehta with neither a growth nor a decline. Anticipating a bright future ahead, he says that the market is highly dependent on the government policies formed and he hopes that in the coming years, everything will fall into place for his business.
To conclude, we would like to say that the market of mannequins in India has witnessed a moderate growth this year because of the economic slowdown. But, at the same time, the market is still in a developing phase for few local manufacturers. The sudden outbreak of Coronavirus in China might have been a blessing in disguise for the local manufacturers but we still have a long way to go. We all hope that the future brings a revolutionary change in the economy.