ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Salesgirls in Kerala’s Textile Sector

Mannequins at Work

Displaying mannequins in showrooms is a business strategy adopted by all kinds of textile retailers for the promotion of their business. In the modern competitive world, women workers employed as salesgirls in retail textile showrooms are also functioning like living automatons. The fundamental rights and labour rights violations faced by salesgirls employed in the textile retail sector in Kerala are examined, and the genesis of sitting strikes (right to sit) that erupted in Kerala is mapped.

Mannequins symbolise the changing consumer behaviour, fashion trends and marketing methods. With the advent of the window- shopping culture, mannequins are installed to demonstrate textile retail products, and thereby attract customers towards the shops (Morris 2015; Leslie 2005). Displaying mannequins in the showrooms is a business strategy adopted by all kinds of textile retailers for the promotion of their business. But in the modern competitive world, women workers employed as showroom sales executives (commonly called as sales women or salesgirls) in the retail textile showrooms are functioning like mannequins for the promotion of business. They are also employed with a purpose of making the shops more “attractive” and have to stand like mannequins throughout the working hours.

The feminisation of the retail sector took place in modern industrial countries like the United States (US), Germany, Britain and France in the 1920s, where it was projected as the success of capitalist consumerism. The Soviets followed in the 1930s in order to promote the non-capitalist, socialist retailing and the “Soviet trade” (Randall 2004). In the 21st century, as the capitalist forms of production expanded to many developing countries where the labour rights were weak, the system forced the workers to work like machines. The salesgirls in the retail sector have also become “living automatons”1 in the workplace where they have to stand the whole day, devoid of breaks and basic amenities. This has resulted in the deterioration of health conditions of the workers in the retail sector.

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Updated On : 19th Mar, 2018
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