Monday, May 25, 2015

Model vs. Mannequin - Which do you Prefer?

Model vs. Mannequin. This topic is hotly contested. I fall on the mannequin side of the debate. I feel beautiful, young, thin models create aspirational looks, however does that create disappointment for the customer who puts on the garment and realizes it doesn't look as good on her. Last summer I put on a dress and loved it until I saw it on someone else (she had a knockout figure). I didn't buy it. Models can also narrow the marketing to an age group even for very basic items which are essentially ageless. Like sweaters.

On the other hand mannequins can be unrealistic and appear static giving the same look to every garment. My husband who works in a large corporate retail marketing department would argue this is a good thing for consistent branding.

Then there is the fit issue. People say they need to see it on a real body. However unless the garments fit the models properly, what's the point? What you see is how it fits them not you with no guarantee it will fit you. This really hit home for me when I was asked to assist in correcting the poor fit of a sweater pattern's shoulders before the knitter checked the schematic and compared it to her own measurements. She assumed the pattern was at fault. What she saw was how it fit the tall thin model not how it would fit her shorter average weight figure.

The photos at the top of The Barbara Franklin Cardigan are not impacted by the shape of my body. The ones at the bottom look very different as the garment molds to my shape. It's my best selling cardigan and I don't think it would be if I modeled it in the pattern. What do you think?


  1. I think that you could model it, but you would need to work on the lighting and composition of the pictures. I personally don't knit patterns that I can't see on real people, which is why I love the Ravelery projects page. But I find that perfect tall thin women and mannequins don't really show me how the garment looks on real people and, by extension, on me.

  2. I only like the 'real people' when it's on a professional (5'-10" and sample sized) model. I skip over considering anything on a fat/plus size. Just use the mannequin. I don't want to look at an unhealthy eater's fat rolls instead of details on a piece of knitwear. If you're selling a knitwear pattern or finished piece, sell the PIECE/PATTERN. Allow focus to center on the knitting and not on how the model looks. Either hire a professional with the proper sample-sized proportions or use a plastic dressform. And stip to standard, professional appearances. No one has neither hot pink or neon green hair in the board room, nor metal bars through eyebrows or nose, so I'd look at all areas of distraction. Don't worry so much about the psychology in order to make a certain group of people feel better, it's not your role.