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.

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