Forget the Rise of the Machines — the mannequins are spying on you! Now, as you shop, you have non-human orbs watching you from afar and evaluating your every move. Don’t look now, but the empty stares flirting around you are committing you to memory!
Fashion brands are deploying mannequins equipped with technology used to identify criminals at airports to watch over shoppers in their stores. Retailers are introducing the EyeSee, sold by Italian mannequin maker Almax SpA, to glean data on customers much as online merchants are able to do.
The mannequin, which went on sale last December and is now being used in three European countries and the U.S., has led one outlet to adjust its window displays after revealing that men who shopped in the first two days of a sale spent more than women, according to Almax.
A clothier introduced a children’s line after the dummy showed that kids made up more than half its mid-afternoon traffic, the company says. Another store found that a third of visitors using one of its doors after 4 p.m. were Asian, prompting it to place Chinese-speaking staff by that entrance.
I find it a little creepy that the stores feel the need to employ mannequins in order to do their due diligence when it comes to evaluating customer behavior. Shopkeepers of yore used to know their customers. They would interact with them. They learned how to comprehend needs and wants and wishes and, of course, fulfill them — but all for the right price.
That human touch has been lost in the expansion of technology and mechanics in our current codified and commoditized shopping experience. We are now numbers and digits on a loyalty card and our patterns and behaviors are manipulated and anticipated. The business owner today knows what we’re going to do before we do it — and that cynical sort of inhuman-handiness makes for a sour and sterile shopping experience.
I would love to create an anti-mannequin that I could use to peruse stores that would block the false purview of those hoping to evaluate me. Perhaps a full-body mirror would create the proper Daliesque response, but maybe clothing that makes me disappear would be a better tactic.