Shopping Online: Mannequins vs Models

So, I’m gearing up to launch my clothing line AvA – busy designing the website and all that good stuff. However, I have been facing the dilemma of whether to display my clothes on a mannequin or style them on a model!

Without a doubt, there are pros and cons for both, but I was hoping to get some of your opinions thrown into the debate pot. Like, when you shop online, do your prefer to see clothes displayed on a model or a mannequin? You may not even be bothered either way, but this very neutral opinion would still be valuable to me; so please do share.

For me, and maybe for alot of you also, sometimes both the mannequin and the model can become invisible, as your mind instantly focuses on that dress, or that jacket. I don’t recall ever thinking “Oh, I’m going to buy that dress because the model is hot!” Or “I’m not going to buy that jacket because the mannequin is not doing it justice.” Essentially, it’s the actual item we zone in on, but I think it’s still important for me to hear your views and ideas.

I have a gorgeous mannequin at home, waiting to be utilised, but I’ve been reluctant because I’ve felt that my clothes modelled on a real-life model, would sell a “story” better. Is this really the case? Do we as shoppers need to be sold on an item?? If it’s hot, it’s hot right? Or maybe seeing the item on a real-life model is valued more, as it’s more relateable? Not to mention the stigma attached to mannequins used in online stores, as being slightly out-dated.

My main opposition to using a model, is the cost implications and time required to display your clothes on a real-life model. First off, I’d have to find the right model for my designs, find a suitable place to shoot the lookbook, work around her schedule etc etc. Whereas, if I were to use a mannequin, I could (for example), shoot a garment in the early hours of the morning if I needed to.

Ah decisions, decisions… Readers, let me know your thoughts: Why you think I should display my designs on a model or a mannequin. Is this really an important factor in sales or is it an issue that’s subconsciously over-looked? Tweet me at @FashionCrazy_ or leave your opinion right here on this post. I’m thanking you in advance, as your views, will most definately help me make a decision on which to use for my online store.


Thought I’d throw in a pic of my adorable mannequin, Olivia…


Should have updated this sooner… When I wrote this post, I knew at the back of my mind what the right decision was for my brand AvA and usually for many fashion labels. Although models have a few cons, it’s the best approach to showcase your designs, expecially when first launching.

When chasing a dream on an impossible budget, despite what your heart says, your mind will tell you to be financially responsible, overlooking industry trends and customer’s expectations. But to ignore these very factors, would be insane. It’s most certainly in my best interests to keep up to pace with industry standards and expectations of online shoppers.

In short, models bring a garment to life, so I HAVE to go with using real-life models. My budget says no, but my business mind says yes.

Let the search for a gorgeous, Kate Moss lookalike model, BEGIN! …Sigh.


6 Responses

  1. Okay, so here is my take on it.

    I love mannequins…..i love drawing mannequins! I think it’s the fact that they make you focus more on the designs. The mannequins i draw are usually black and white with very minimal facial features etc. It’s like a blank canvas that let’s the designs do the talking.

    On the other hand, i do think real models are a good option too. This is because i think a lot of girls/women like to see a design on a pretty model so that they can try (lol) and achieve that look. Even if they can’t achieve it….it’s something that i think some women think about. The clothes will also hang better on a real model!

    I think, if you found the right looking mannequin (like the one wearing the orange dress, it could work well!! Geting a model may make your lookbook look like something from ASOS….which has been done i guess.

    I think what it really comes down too is….the right mannequin or right model and the designs!!


  2. Although your manequin with my namesake is adorable, I prefer to see clothes on real models. For me models lend credibility to a website. It shows me that the owner(s) are very serious about what they are doing since they are willing to invest the time, energy, and money involved in live models rather than throwing outfit after outfit on a manequin ala etsy.

  3. I have gone through this situation as well as I sell on Etsy. I have gone from using foam heads, mannequin heads, dress form, to shooting on and off a live model. Now I’ve made up my mind to use all real models. I want to be as professional as possible and model my brand after some of the top brands I love…

    • Yes, in the end, using real models may be more of a “hassle”, but definitely worth it all. Real models have life; life in them, with the ability to sell a piece of clothing. 😉

      Thanks for commenting.

  4. So glad I found this topic. I am going through the exact same dilema. As a small business, the budget says mannequins. But as a small business who is launching for the first time online, I think the creditbility of the brand is super important, and live models help with that. After reading this post, I have decided to make the extra investment in live models.The key is really finding the right models, so if I can not find the models in the sizes I need (I have a dress rental business and have dresses in all sizes), then I found some nice mannequins that I can use for back-up. I would love to see your site when it launches!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post. I agree with you on all the points you made above. Live models work out to be more costly, but definitely worth the investment. “Get It Right… First Time.” << learnt that at uni. 😉

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