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Fun with mannequins: How a Gap shopping trip turned into an Internet sensation

DesignTanya Hart, Gap Inc. bloggerComment

It’s Pinnochio in reverse — a real live person wanting to resemble a wood doll, rather than the other way around.

But when you’re “about the same size as a mannequin” and you’re a jokester like Steve Venegas, it makes perfect sense to do what he did.

While shopping at a Gap in 2009, he decided to try on the same clothes as the in-store mannequin, then pose with it for a photo — “to make my wife laugh,” he says. Four years later, he’s still doing this —always at Gap.

It was only on Dec. 31 that he finally put the photos on a Tumblr site, creating The Gap Mannequin Project. It was just supposed to be a way to share the photos in one spot so his friends could see easily.

Within a day, he had 500 followers. Now, he has 8,500. He’s been written up on Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, USA Today and was even featured on the Today Show.

And of course we think it’s hilarious.

“I’ve been completely dumbfounded by how large this has become,” said the 30-year-old radio producer from Vancouver.

When he does this, he doesn’t go to the dressing rooms – just puts the clothes on right there, on top of whatever t-shirt he’s wearing.  So far, none of the store associates have said anything, but customers get a kick out of it. Especially the time when he put on three layers (a long-sleeve button-up shirt, a red sweater and a black jacket) and was “overheating” while posing.

“This guy and his family were watching and they were laughing pretty hard.”

“I’m a playful person,” he adds. “When we’re out walking around, we’re the people who photobomb tourist pictures or just generally try to make any situation or environment into something fun.”

But of course what we want to know is, why did he pick Gap?

“Gap clothes have a nice cut and they fit me well,” he says. “So I’ve never tried to go into other stores.”

He says he’s going to keep doing this as long as he can. Next up: a possible trip to Japan in March, and of course, he plans to visit a Gap store there.