Designers Model Fashions on Mannequins at Empty Tables in Socially Distanced Restaurants

A clever hack from Vilnius, Lithuania

Silver linings are the name of the game during the coronavirus pandemic.

While the overall situation is tragic on an immeasurable scale, individuals and brands continue to find creative ways to make these terrible times somewhat more manageable. Our favorite new example comes from Lithuania, of all places, where the restaurant and fashion industries have teamed up to make clever use of the mandated social-distancing spaces inside eateries these days.

Vilnius, the Lithanian capital—which you probably know nothing about—just last week allowed restaurants to reopen their indoor seating, with strict social-distancing measures. This means many tables are remaining empty. So, restaurant owners are using that extra space to help local fashion designers—by allowing them to seat mannequins, dressed in the latest fashions, at those spots.

"Empty tables inside our restaurant look rather odd, and we don't have any way to remove them," says Bernie Ter Braak, owner of restaurant Cosy, who came up with the idea with local well-known fashion designer, Julia Janus. "Therefore, we decided to reach out to our neighbors, fashion boutique stores, and invited them to use our empty tables to showcase their newest collections. The news spread, and well-known designers joined this project, which keeps gaining interest across the city."

See some examples here:

Several dozen restaurants and cafés in the Old Town Glass Quarter are participating, with over 60 mannequins—modeling clothes from 19 boutiques—placed at the unused tables. There is info at each table about the exhibited items and where each piece can be purchased. IDW, one of Europe's top high-quality mannequin manufacturers, agreed to provide all the mannequins free of charge for the initiative, which runs through the end of the month.

Another bonus: Mannequins are such quiet restaurant goers.

"The fashion industry is particularly affected by the lockdown," says Janus. "Local boutiques used to sell the niche, original pieces created by local designers. As they are currently closed due to the quarantine, designers do not have many opportunities to showcase their latest collections, and in general, the consumption is down. We hope that this campaign will move the waters and local designers will gain some visibility."

She adds: "Crisis like this calls for all of us to unite and help each other—together, we can achieve much more than being alone."

"While the quarantine restricts us in many ways, I have always believed that it also gives us many opportunities, which we can use creatively to unveil the boundless charm of our city," says Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of Vilnius. "This current initiative is a perfect match of communal spirit and creativity working side by side—and it also brings us some tangible material benefits." 

See more pics below.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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