Do you ever find yourself startled by the often-haunting presence (and sometimes awkward positioning) of store mannequins? One second, you're intently thumbing through a rack, trying find your size, and the next moment, you're accidentally saying "Oh, excuse me" to a 6'1" plastic figure that's actually not a real human. And it's not like they represent the majority of customers, anyway. But we digress. Indie label Reformation feels the same way we do, so they're nixing the familiar merchandizing tool for their next store opening in San Francisco.
Instead, they're replacing mannequins with some seriously high-tech touches that aim to make the consumer experience a whole lot easier. "We wanted to create a more seamless shopping experience that solves a lot of the problems with traditional clothing stores: most are super-messy, you can never find your size, you have to wait in line forever, the dressing room lighting is the worst, etc." Reformation founder Yael Aflalo told Refinery29. (Aflalo also recently admitted her disdain for mannequins: they "freak her out.")
"I felt like a high-volume, high-end retail experience was basically nonexistent," Aflalo said. "With the new San Francisco store, the new technology elements will hopefully eliminate these inconveniences so people can have an amazing and memorable experience they'll want to come back for."
The new store, which will open on February 21, will also feature touchscreen monitors, as well as "digital fitting room attendees" — which totally sounds like something we saw in The Jetsons or something. Instead of racks filled with the same item in multiple sizes, there will be a brand showroom-esque single item for each garment on offer.
There are also all sorts of sustainable, environmentally conscious design touches too (unsurprising, considering the brand's always had an eco-friendly focus): There are rammed earth walls sourced from a local Bay Area company (they'll look something like this), low-VOC paints (a.k.a. volatile organic compounds, which can cause things like cancer and are harmful to the environment), and reusable totes and hangers made from recycled materials.
That all sounds pretty snazzy, but what we're most looking forward to is that mannequin-free experience, because we all know the sweat-inducing embarrassment of the moment you knock one of those suckers over and literally everyone in the store jerks their head in your direction. Not to mention the battle that ensues when you try to re-style the plastic person, dodging pins and needles that were once holding everything in place and are now scattered all over the floor.
Not in the Bay Area? Eventually, this futuristic-sounding Ref store template will be coming to other yet-unannounced cities nationally.
By: Landon Peoples