The mannequins, with visible ribs, had angered many people including at least 15,000 people who signed an online petition to have them removed.
This evening Hallenstein Glasson CEO said the company agreed that its mannequins were unacceptable and has ordered their removal from display in all stores.
“While these mannequins are not new to the business, we have taken on board the feedback of New Zealand women in its entirety, and we unreservedly apologise for any upset we may have caused those who viewed the store displays,” says Popplewell.
“The removal of the offending mannequins is effective immediately and once again we wish to reiterate how truly sorry we are to the women of New Zealand,” he says.
He added that “in future a more rigorous selection process will be adhered to for its point of sale display mannequins”.
Christchurch mother-of-three Meg Randall started an online petition late on Tuesday night, and woke up the next morning to a “disappointing” 16 signatures.
But within 24 hours, more than 15,000 people had signed up to Randall’s campaign calling for the mannequins to be changed for “regular” mannequins.
Randall was inspired to set up the petition after the use of the rib-protruding mannequins at the fast fashion retailer was brought to light in a Stuff article last week.
She was “particularly concerned” by comments made by WORLD co-founder and chief executive Denise L’Estrange-Corbet, who said this week clothes looked better on “tall, slim” people.
“I guess I just thought it was ridiculous, and someone needs to do something about it,” Randall said.
Having the mannequins in store was “really detrimental” to the body image of Glassons’ target market, young women who were vulnerable to developing eating disorders.
“They’ve taken one feature, or one aspect of one type of girl’s body and drawn attention to that, and they’ve said it’s realistic,” Randall said.
“But the reality is it’s realistic for one type of body type.”
The issue was never about “hating on the skinny girls” – visible ribs were part of a healthy reality for some women, including Randall, but for her, so were “curvy hips and generous thighs”.
Young women had had the strongest response to her petition, with many saying they felt insecure and inadequate when they walked into the stores and were subject to the not-so-subtle marketing.
Randall said she had received some feedback on her use of the word “regular” in describing mannequins that should replace the ones currently used.
“I guess what I’m hoping is they’ll go back to using ones that are less anatomically specific, for starters, but even if they took it to the next step and used mannequins which were of different body types and even different skin colourings, that would be awesome.
“That would be setting a really positive precedent for the rest of the retail industry.”
The number of people who had signed the petition was “really encouraging”, and reflected the issue was important to many New Zealanders.
Randall hoped more people would be motivated to take action against the use of the mannequins, and a positive outcome would come because of it.
The New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women called for the implementation of a voluntary code of practice for the fashion industry and the media to follow in portraying body image.
The use of skinny models and mannequins directly affected the self-esteem and health of many young New Zealanders, and it was time for action to be taken, president of the NZFBPW Vicky Mee said.
Research showed a direct correlation between what was depicted as “perfect” body image and the body dissatisfaction of young girls which resulted in health problems, low self-esteem and greater risk of self-harm and suicide
A code of practice would provide minimum standards to ensure young women were not being shown an impossible ideal, and would allow them to develop without worrying about reducing their body size, Mee said.
Glassons customers had also taken to the store’s Facebook page and Twitter to voice their concerns and criticism at the use of the mannequins.