Debenhams launches size 16 mannequins

Debenhams has become the first major high street retailer to use size 16 mannequins in store in an attempt to better represent “real women’s” shapes.

Debenhams size 16
Equalities Minister, Jo Swinson, next to the new size 16 mannequins.

The new mannequins were unveiled today (6 November) in Debenhams’ flagship Oxford Street store and will appear across the country to all its 170 stores in the coming months. They will be mixed in with its usual size 10 mannequins and the roll out follows a small trial in 2010.

Debenhams says the dress size of the average British woman has grown to size 16 in recent years, yet most retailers typically use size 10 dummies to display their wares.

Ed Watston, Debenhams PR director, says: ”The average British woman is a size 16, but the high street has been showing them clothing on a mannequin that is three sizes smaller – until now…Having worked on this project for three years, we hope that it will help people in some small way to feel comfortable about their bodies and crucially, that other retailers will follow.”

Equalities Minister, Jo Swinson (pictured), welcomed the roll out and attended this morning’s launch at the Debenhams Oxford Street store.

She said: ”Debenhams are setting a great example by celebrating a wide range of women in its fashion imagery, recently including a paralympian and a model in her sixties. They are also leading the way by introducing size 16 mannequins into their flagship store. 

“Recent research found that women are three times more likely to buy clothes when the fashion models are their size, so I hope more retailers will recognise that meeting customer demand for more diversity makes good business sense. Many customers want to see more realistic images in magazines, TV and on the high street, and having mannequins that reflect and celebrate our diverse society is one way of helping to achieve this.”

The PR initiative comes days after Debenhams caved to “Let There Be Toys” campaigners and announced it would put an end to having separate girls’ and boys’ toy departments amid claims having two different sections promotes gender stereotyping.

Earlier this year Debenhams pledged to stop using airbrushed models in advertising and product shots, telling rivals they had a “moral obligation” to stop using images that had been “digitally retouched”. Its most recent campaign used three models over 40 years old, a Paralympic athlete and a size 18 model.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here