Nike is earning praise after introducing full-figured mannequins at its flagship store in London, part of a campaign for the sportswear company to broaden its reach to athletes of all sizes.
As People magazine noted, the company unveiled the curvy mannequins this week at the opening of a floor of the store dedicated to women's apparel. The NikeTown store offers new options for those who don't fit the typical thin build.
"To celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of sport, the space will not just celebrate local elite and grassroot athletes through visual content, but also show Nike plus size and para-sport mannequins for the first time on a retail space," Nike said in a press release, via CNN.
The new appeal to women of all sizes has earned Nike plenty of praise online, with many calling it a step forward for an industry not always known for its body inclusiveness. There has been a rise in the number of retailers appealing to more full-figured women and a corresponding boom in plus-size modeling, though the sportswear industry was not as represented in those taking the steps.Nike had actually launched its first plus-size collections two years ago, the People magazine report noted, but this was the first move to feature the apparel in its flagship store.
Not all were impressed with the decision by Nike to push its appeal to women of all sizes. Opinion writer Tanya Gold slammed the marketing move in an op-ed for the Telegraph, claiming that Nike was appealing to "obese" women with the new mannequin.
Gold wrote that the mannequin did not represent a healthy-sized woman, but rather one that is "immense, gargantuan, vast."
"She heaves with fat," Gold wrote. She added that the woman the mannequin represented would most likely be pre-diabetic and unhealthy from the effects of her obesity.
The words drew criticism online, with many noted the hypocrisy in criticizing women who are trying to live healthier lifestyles through exercise. Others saw it as a misguided attack on women, who often come under pressure to conform to certain body standards and not be too skinny or too fat.
The overall reaction to Nike's new full-sized mannequins, and the focus on reaching women of all sizes, was overwhelmingly positive, however. Many hoped it could make women feel more comfortable to shop for athletic apparel and to work out without fear of being judged for their size.