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Mannequins and Forms



Ken Albright loves it when clients come to him with a challenge. And in the mid-1980s, his customers were asking his decoratives company to begin offering forms. So Albright began working with Romano Bonaveri at Italian-based Bonaveri, learning the process, how to design and the different materials used in making forms. “It was so fascinating to work with a manufacturer who was a sculptor,” he says.

As Seven Continents’ forms business took off, it eventually added mannequins and now both product lines account for more than half of the Toronto-based company’s business. “My goal was to make a form into a fashion statement,” he says.

Along the way, Albright learned how to change fabrication processes and materials to create products for a diverse client base, from Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch to Bloomingdale’s and Shinsegae. His work has included the original Abby and Fitch to, more recently, a line of recyclable and non-breakable mannequins for Joe Fresh’s Canadian locations.

One of the biggest considerations he must make when designing a line is how the clothes will fit the mannequin or form. In the early years, Albright says that Abercrombie requested a kid’s form in size 16. But when the retailer tried to dress it in its signature style of layers of clothing, the clothes wouldn’t fit. “So now I insist on getting the merchandise to do a dress-test,” he says. Albright also had to resculpt forms for Victoria’s Secret’s push-up line to accommodate the cup size additions. “It’s a combination of function and design,” he says.

Albright turns to fashion, clothing and architecture for inspiration. Taking design cues from a curvy condo building in Mississauga, Ont., dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe Tower,” Albright fashioned a line of accessory forms. “There’s something visual in everything you see,” he says.

The designer also feels a global responsibility to using sustainable materials. His regular trips abroad to research new designs and materials have led to such ideas as using bamboo. “I think there’s a social responsibility in everything we do,” says Albright.



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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