Should More Mature Models Really be Excluded From the Fashion Industry? 
Sun, April 18, 2021

Should More Mature Models Really be Excluded From the Fashion Industry? 

Most models in the fashion industry skew younger that we forget that models grow old in the business too and that they don’t necessarily have to be pushed out of the space just because this is the case / Photo by: ammentorp via 123RF

 

Everywhere you look in the fashion industry, everyone is interested in what is new. 

Or, since in recent years people have taken to nostalgically reliving the best fashion items they grew up knowing as kids, what’s at least new again. But all these clothes, bags, and perfumes have one thing in common: they all use younger models. In fact, most models in the fashion industry skew younger that we forget that models grow old in the business too and that they don’t necessarily have to be pushed out of the space just because this is the case. 

 

Where Do They Belong? 

Ideally, still in the fashion industry. 

The honest answer is that that should never change, except people have certain expectations in the world of modeling; the most obvious expectations people have in the fashion industry are connected to people’s needs and obsessions to look at forever-young models dressed to the nines. 

But what about when more mature models want to stay in the game even though their prime has passed? That’s exactly what Jacynth Bassett wanted to do after she realized that there is a need to address the issue of ageism in fashion. 

According to British news source The Guardian, Bassett shared that part of the reason she wanted to enter the fashion industry and begin a fashion brand was because she was seeing a wider and wider gap in age in the market that she wanted to address. 

“I’d long been saddened and frustrated that my mum, who is now 64 and has an eye for style, is treated as invisible and irrelevant by the fashion industry simply because of her age,” Bassett shared. It is a common grievance that older people themselves have in the industry. 

They’re only ever becoming increasingly muted, this demographic that doesn’t align with what everyone else wants to see. At least, not when you ask younger people. But when women aged 40 to 89 were asked the same question if they prefer older models to be used in advertising, 97% of women agreed. This according to a survey done by the London College of Fashion. 

If you look at it from a technical point of view, there should be no limit to the age of a model. 

Even old people need clothes, whether stylish or not. If they want to be stylish, that should also be accepted, except we’re so used to seeing young models because that’s the way of the industry. According to Statista, an online statistics, market research, and business intelligence portal, our predisposition to lean toward younger models may be connected to the fact that models themselves start young.   

The average starting age for a model in the industry is between 13 to 16 years old (54.7%), followed by 17 to 20 years old (37.3%), and finally, 21 and older (6.7%). Just looking at that statistic shows just how excluded models of older generations are. But is all hope really lost?

The average starting age for a model in the industry is between 13 to 16 years old (54.7%), followed by 17 to 20 years old (37.3%), and finally, 21 and older (6.7%) / Photo by: martinkay78 via 123RF

 

Where Do We Go From Here? 

It’s futile to deny that ageism doesn’t exist in the industry, but it is also equally futile to completely assume that all hope is lost. Bassett told High Snobiety, an online publication covering trends and news in fashion, art, music, and culture, that there really has to be big changes instituted after she learned just how rude people can get with the older generation simply going out shopping. 

“She found shopping demoralizing; assistants would sneer or tell her that certain places weren’t meant for her, and online she couldn’t find anything because everything was targeted toward younger women,” Bassett said. 

Even then, this hasn’t stopped other mature models from asserting themselves in the space, although it will predictably take a while before designers and boutiques understand that if they think they won’t profit from the mature model demographic, that is not the case, stated model Rachel Peru, 46.

It’s futile to deny that ageism doesn’t exist in the industry, but it is also equally futile to completely assume that all hope is lost / Photo by: martinkay78 via 123RF

 

She told High Snobiety that she feels as though companies are sacrificing a whole demographic with serious spending power for this fetishization of the young in the industry. 

She’s not wrong. 

In a survey by Sheconomy shared to Sixty and Me, an online magazine driven to motivating women to find their own voice and value in a transitional time in their life, just the women at the age of 50 and older already collect a net worth of $19 trillion, not to mention that they also “own more than three-fourths of the nation’s financial wealth.” 

Peru also talked about championing fashion even in old age. “Brands still seem to portray us in older, out-of-date styles. Surely we can be just as stylish, and probably even more confident in the latest fashions?” she said. 

If fashion should evolve to become more accommodating to gender fluidity, so should it accept that old age does not curtail peoples’ desire to remain fashionable.