Leotards come in all shapes, sizes and colors. While basic styles are the most popular among dancers, especially those with a dress code to follow, colorful and embellished dancewear is the most interesting to set on your racks. Within the leotard section in your store, fashion and basic styles will each benefit from different merchandising techniques. And sometimes you can achieve the best results by displaying the two together.
Here, we share tips from five storeowners who have created stand-out displays for fashion and basic leotards. Read on to learn their best merchandising advice.
Use colorful styles to break up a grouping of solid black leotards.
Linden’s Dancewear, Durham, NC
Renee Allen, owner of Linden’s Dancewear, uses color blocking to help sell the basics. She displays adult leotards on outrigger racks on the right-hand wall at the front of the store. Within the display they are arranged by style, such as tank, short sleeve, long sleeve. To break up a wall of black leotards and spotlight certain colors, Allen thoughtfully mixes black and more colorful styles. “Clashing colors are never appealing, and the black between colors allows the colored leotards to be highlighted and still keeps similar styles grouped,” she says. “Often a customer is drawn to a colored leotard but will buy the black one in the same style right beside it.”
Allen also color-coordinates her fashion displays. Body forms in groupings of colors, like ocean blue, turquoise and white or coral, pink and black are situated on a shelf along the wall. “The fashion leotards are located right below the mannequins,” she says.
Mix fashion and basics in feature displays.
Dance Gear Etc., Lutz, FL
Carolyn Jackson, owner of Dance Gear Etc., puts her BA in art to work creating imaginative and eye-catching feature displays that mix basic and fashion styles. Her most notable effort is located on top of a round rack in the center of her store. She changes the display frequently to keep her inventory moving. One of her most popular was designed for a Fourth of July sale. It included three body forms—two adult-size and one child-size—and a mixture of red, white and blue accessories.
Jackson always tries to include a less expensive basic style and a higher-priced fashion look, along with accessories from all different categories. “I include all budgets in this display so that I can attract customers with all budgets,” she says. “I also include all types of dance, such as jazz, hip hop and ballroom. I’ll even put in a cheerleading bow or gymnastic scrunchie to show that we offer apparel for different types of techniques in the store.”
The rack below the display holds a variety of leotards, mainly basic styles in a range of colors, with prices ranging from $15 to $50. “Most of my stock is black, because that’s what turns over the quickest,” says Jackson. Black leotards are merchandised by size and style on round racks on the floor.
Cross-merchandise leotards and accessories to increase sales.
RD Dancewear, Sterling Heights, MI
To add excitement to plain leotards, Cheryl Tadlock, owner of RD Dancewear, puts them on mannequins with coordinating accessories. “I add a skirt and matching jewelry, something that I have from home,” she says.
Recently, Tadlock added a masquerade mask and colorful scarf and necklace to a black leotard to help draw the eye to the basic style. “For fashion leotards with cool backs, turn the mannequin around so you can see the detail.”
Tadlock has several mannequins throughout her store, and she places them near racks of those styles. She also places one near her fitting room. “While parents are sitting outside, they can look at it,” she says. “It does get people to try more things on.”
Black leotards are displayed on four-way racks, while children’s styles are hung on waterfall racks on the wall. “I hang the fashion leotards backward,” she says. “The fronts are all pretty much the same, but the backs often have lace or mesh or straps that I want to show off. Once in a while I will put them on a body form to give the leotard more shape.”
Tadlock also uses color in her displays to make them more eye-catching. “I will layer a vibrant-colored leotard underneath a black one, so when a customer walks by, she can see the lace or detail better,” she says. “This gets more attention than just solid black.”
Give black leotards a prominent location.
Dance Depot, South Daytona, FL
At Dance Depot, black leotards are displayed on a long wall to the right-hand side of the store’s main entrance. The wall runs the length of the entire store and is separated into two sections—the front half features adult leotards, the back half, children’s black leotards. “That’s what we sell the most of,” says owner Ashley Kelly. “Only one or two studios in our area let dancers wear separates like booty shorts. But most kids can wear any style leotard as long as it’s black.”
The leotards are hung on wire grid racks mounted to the wall. To make the styles pop, Kelly has painted the wall behind the grids a bright pink. Fashion styles are displayed on apparel racks on the floor and are spotlighted on body forms on a large, rectangular grid rack that hangs behind the cash wrap. “That is the first thing you see when you walk into my store,” she says. “I cross-merchandise with accessories and try to color-coordinate based on the season.”
Use signage to direct shoppers to new styles.
Motions Unlimited, Chicago
At Motions Unlimited, signage is strategically placed near leotard styles that manager Adelina Dimas wants to sell. Basic leotards are arranged by colors and hang on straight or cascading brackets. “Sometimes we’ll put up a sign that mentions ‘new colors’ or some unique change that was made to the display,” she says. “Fashion leotards are sometimes hung up on a smaller wall by themselves with a ‘new arrivals’ sign.”
While signs can direct customers more easily around the store, they alone do not sell leotards. Dimas positions new arrivals, both fashion and basic, in prominent locations near the front door and around the store. “We use a full-body mannequin to create seasonal displays of all our leotards,” she says. “We try to incorporate seasonal colors when creating a new display. That way the display is more inviting and eye-catching. Besides what’s pleasant to the eye, we keep the color wheel in mind.”
Photos courtesy of dance shops