Modern retail design – Debenhams introduce size 16 mannequins to better represent British shoppers

6th December 2013

Moving with the times – both in terms of modern retail design and the preferences of many shoppers who are sick of being bombarded with images of unrealistically thin models, Debenhams have recently revealed plans to introduce larger mannequins to it’s UK stores, starting with their flagship store in London’s Oxford Street.

size 16 mannequins at Debenhams


Debenhams is the first UK high street retailer to permanently introduce mannequins above UK size 10 (US size 6) as standard fixtures. Where some retailers who do use larger models might keep the size 16 mannequins in their ‘plus-size’ areas, Debenhams are going to mix them in with the size 10 mannequins (as they might in real life) and keep using them as standard from early December.

New mannequins at Debenhams better represent British women

Debenhams Director Ed Watson explains the decision:

“The average British woman is a size 16, but the high street has been showing the clothing on a mannequin that is three sizes smaller…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.”

Jo Swinson,  MP and Minister for Women and Equalities of the UK’s Government Equalities Office has campaigned tirelessly for plus-size mannequins as part of her Campaign For Body Confidence and is really happy about Debenhams’ move, hoping that other will follow their decision – and not just to please customers –  research proves that it makes economic sense too – as Swinson explains:

“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 recognize that meeting customer demand for more diversity makes good business sense,”

It seems that Debenhams has been partially inspired by US store  Macy’s who have also made the decision to use larger size mannequins on display in their store,  as retailers simply can’t afford to ignore the growing number of clothes shoppers how are searching for sizes larger than a 10.

Over the coming year Debenhams plan to use size 16 mannequins in all of its 170 UK stores. Here’s hoping the popularity and economic benefits of this concept will see it becoming a nationwide trend, with other stores following their lead. Are there any other shapes or sizes you’d like to see in the high street? We’d be interested to hear your views on this.


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