Plus-size 'bootylicious' mannequins set to figure in shops

The fuller-figured mannequins get their debut today at Debenhams on Oxford Street, central London

A new range of ‘bootylicious’ mannequins are on their way to Belfast to challenge traditional narrow definitions decreed by the fashion world.

This morning the mannequins are posed in the display windows of shopping mecca Oxford Street on the first stop of a UK and Ireland tour.

With the average British woman slipping into a size 14, the size 10 industry standard mannequin is no longer reflective of the majority of shoppers.

Their angular lines are more akin to that of a top model rather than the average Joanne Bloggs browsing the rails.

The new mannequins have been welcomed by shopowners, models and eating disorder groups in Northern Ireland.

Department store Debenhams is behind the move. Some 42% of its sales come from size 14 and 16 garments.

The size 16 mannequins will be trialled alongside size 10s to gain feedback from customers to see if they like the idea.

Dressed in the latest Principles by Ben de Lisi range, customers will be invited to give their opinions with the question “I’m a size 16, do you want to see more of me?”

A quick survey of Belfast shops showed size 10 mannequins are used in all the big names from Marks and Spencers to Topshop, Monsoon and Oasis.

A River Island spokeswoman said their mannequins were even smaller, ranging from a size 8 to 10.

Just plus size specialist Evans showed its wares on anything larger with its range of size 16 mannequins.

Jan Winton, manager of Belfast’s only plus size boutique, Marina Rinaldi in south Belfast, welcomed the move.

The shop, which opened in September 2004, stocks clothes from a size 16 up to 26 using size 14/16 mannequins. It ran Belfast’s first plus-sized modelling competition last March at Belfast Fashion Week.

“I think it’s great. It’s another positive step forward to realising that the majority of women are a size 14/16/18,” Ms Winton said.

The new mannequins are to be debuted this morning at Debenhams flagship store in London before touring the UK and Ireland. They will come to Belfast, Dublin and Cork over the coming months.

Lisa Whitman (38), a plus-size model for the Alison Campbell Agency, said she thought the fuller figured models were long overdue.

“You can’t judge what something is going to look like on the smaller mannequins,” she said.

Jacqui King from the Eating Disorders Association said the mannequins were “good news”.

“Up until now, the message is the thinner the better,” she said.

“Some of the mannequins look really gaunt. This is good news — I am pleased to see someone is taking a responsible and healthy stand.”

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