Women's clothing giant Glassons is backtracking on its use of skinny mannequins, apologising to customers for the "unattainable depiction of women".

The apology, released this evening, follows a strong public backlash and an online petition - which attracted 16,000 signatures in a day - demanding removal of the mannequins, which featured visible ribs.

Hallenstein Glasson Chief executive Graeme Popplewell said the company agreed its mannequins were unacceptable.

He had ordered their removal from display in all stores.

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"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," he said.

"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 said.

Glassons would like to reassure the New Zealand public a more rigorous selection process would be used when choosing mannequins, Mr Popplewell said.

The backlash against the use of the skinny mannequins by the company comes as a professional women's advocacy group called for the end of thin models and skinny mannequins in the fashion industry.

And a brand expert says Glassons' handling of the situation will influence the public's forgiveness.

Ms Randall, 32, who has two daughters and a son aged under 8, said she had struggled with body image and didn't want her children raised in a society where an unattainable size for most was presented as the norm.

"There's huge pressure already on us with regards to ... how we should look and this is taking it ... a step too far."

She said the huge response showed many New Zealanders felt the same way - "that it's just not appropriate".

Dr Mark Kilgour of Waikato University's marketing department said the backlash against Glassons depended on whether its target market cared and how the store handled the publicity.

"If they view their target audience to be put off by this, removing the mannequin and how they do it is important."

Meanwhile the NZ Federation of Business and Professional Women wants a code of practice in the fashion industry to end skinny models and mannequins. President Vicky Mee said they directly affected the self-esteem and health of young people.

Full apology statement:

Clothing giant Glassons has today apologised to its customers for featuring display mannequins which some Kiwis have described as an unattainable depiction of women.
The mannequins which featured visible ribs, sparked a nationwide debate on whether this was an appropriate portrayal of the female form.

Hallenstein Glasson CEO Graeme Popplewell says the company has agreed 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.

Popplewell says Glassons would like to reassure the New Zealand public that in future a more rigorous selection process will be adhered to for its point of sale display mannequins.
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