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Close – Model vs Mannequin, which do you prefer?

Posted by:

29 July, 2009

my wardrobe

A couple of weeks ago at the London Fashion Network’s e-merchandising event there was a lot of discussion on the use of models in online retail.

There was a consensus that models work best for displaying men’s clothing online, as guys need an idea of fit.

For women however it was mentioned that using models could be counterproductive. Hair colour, age and body type could apparently put shoppers off.

my wardrobe

But in e-commerce no-one has the monopoly on what’s right and retailing rules are there to be broken.

Lauren Stevenson, PR Director at says “using a model versus a mannequin shows the fit, cut and even the proportion of accessories a lot clearer”.

Careful to appeal to its core customer My-Wardrobe spent time selecting models “the customer could relate to”.

my wardrobe

Only time and tracking will tell if the designer store has made the right move, and the team will be closely monitoring uplifts in sales as well as measuring impact via Feefo a customer review tool which was implemented earlier this year.

What do you think, do you prefer to see clothing on an invisible mannequin or real life model? Have your say below.

Read more about online fashion

Readers' comments (17)

  • xxx

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  • I think the models work well - you can clearly see the length of the dress/trousers and the fit of the jacket.

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  • I would advocate the use of invisible mannequins. The clothing should have sufficient personality to stand alone without the choice of model restricting its versatility.

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  • I think the use of models really works for My-Wardrobe, you can clearly see the shape and siloutte of the product, and as a consumer I find this far more appealing. The choice of model has been key. I know the My-Wardrobe team have been careful to chose someonel who represents their customer, rather than alienates her.

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  • The garment photographed on the invisible model will do better sales, it looks much more fashion and works best for the retailer. The garment on model is more realistic and a better indication to the customer which will result in less sales for the retailer. We want to imagine ourselves looking fabulous in the garment, not realize that it will never look as good on us. Only positive for the model shot is that it may result in less returns.

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  • I find that garments on a live model are far easier to understand as they give me more info on how things hang on the body than a plastic mannequin ever could. I can see the length better too. It doesnt matter one jot to me if that model doesnt have the same hair or eye colour as me, it is purely about drape and movement of a garment. What's even better than a real model is video catwalk footage as at I think that takes me as close as I can get to a changing room mirror online.

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  • An invisible model will not alienate or offend anyone.
    Beautiful models create aspirational looks, however does that create disappointment for the customer who recieves the product & realises it doesn't look the same on her :(
    Mannequins with or without heads in my mind are unrealistic & dated giving a certain "look" to every garment.
    As far as gauging length of garments without a model to compare on again unrealistic, everyones body length is different as long as the measurements are available there should be no problem.

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  • I would advocate the use of invisible mannequins. The clothing should have sufficient personality to stand alone without the choice of model restricting its versatility.

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  • We have been striving to make improvements to the online shopping experience and it was really important to carefully select models that represent the essence of the brand - attainable, yet still aspirational.

    The main objective with the launch of the model images was to be able to give our customers a much clearer view of the fit and cut of the products, to simplify the shopping experience. Key to this is jeans and trousers, which have been traditionally difficult to style on a mannequin.

    We do hope that this new feature will help to increse the ease of the overall shopping experience.

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  • unless the garments fit the models well - which on most sites they dont - what is the point?

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  • Hi gang, I'm an apparel/fashion photographer and I have also run and maintained eCom sites for apparel manufacturers.

    My opinion is that online customers want to see the garment on a model. I have more information about that here on my FAQ page

    Another upside to shooting on models is that the shoot can go much faster, giving you more items photographed in less time. Mannequins take time to dress and style. An experienced model can change quickly and give you a few good poses and then move on.

    The Invisible mannequin is nice but expensive because of the styling time and or post production computer time involved.

    One upside to mannequin shots is if you want to keep your online catalog consistent from one season to the next. Changing models and or photographers will sometimes make your website lose it's continuity. Keeping a plain white backdrop will help with continuity between seasons for your online catalog.

    Hope this helps!

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    Somewhere between a model and a mannequin is there a way to display clearly the fit and cut of garments, footwear and accessories, creating an emotional bond with the browser without alienating them by being unrepresentative?

    I heard that clothes on blonde models do not sell as well as brunettes. Is this true?

    Shameless plug

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  • I think in this case the models work really well - but have in the past seen cases where models do not work well or are badly chosen.

    I think what can be quite offensive about models is when they are in a location ie at the beach, park, having fun, this alienates me, whereas the above are on a neutral setting which takes out all of the "buy this and you are this type of person" rubbish.

    Time will certainly tell but I personally think this won't hurt my-wardrobe at all.

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  • Becki Rowe

    My personal preference is for model over mannequin. The reason I like it is I feel it gives another dimension of 'brand' to the photo i.e. by choosing a model that is on brand rather than a mannequin which is quite universal. Of course they way you style the shot is also doing that but I like to look for every opportunity to inject more 'brand'.

    Yes, it probably requires more thought/time and as Chuck says above you can have continuity problem if models change but I think you can always help that by using more than one model so that you perhaps have a range of faces/looks rather than one person who becomes the face of your brand causing a bit of an issue if you can no longer use her for any reason.

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  • models work best - I need to understand the form and fit of a garment on a human body, I think the mannequin is alienating and would prefer to visualise the item with other clothing and a together "look". For some reason online models appear to be slightly dowdier that their catwalk counterparts - why is this?

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  • A live model relaxed and at ease with what she is wearing must sell, however there is an argument to sugest nutrality is important.

    My gut feeling is model

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  • Adele Crombie

    The likes of and net-a-porter get it spot on with their model shots - taking the head out of the shot is key to keeping the focus on the body/clothes...

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