Age is becoming an ever-growing problem in the fashion industry. Overlooked by big fashion brands, over 40s have started to become frustrated with their lack of options on the market. With the struggle to style clothes without looking too young or too much like their mothers, many have started to speak out on the biggest gap in the market. So, how and why should we help over 40s re-discover their sense of style?
The struggle for style
The large consumer market for fast fashion is based on the ages of 18-25-year olds. As the youth are targeted through influencer culture, there has become a hole in the market for those over the age of 40. Not quite young enough to fit in with the trends, many women have started to voice their struggle with the need to find their style. In the Financial Times, Alison Wells states that clothes shopping has become a chore. At 57 years old, she continues by addressing the issue that many women want to inconspicuously hide their age through fashion, but there is no market to do so. Instead, many are met with a market that fails to understand their needs.
It has become too easy for the fashion industry to research online. However, the power of technology also means that many who do not use it get left out. This makes it incredibly easy for older generations to lose their sense of style as the market cannot truly analyse their age range. In turn, they are not influenced by consumer technology that the younger generation is. It creates a cycle that becomes hard to escape from. Refinery 29 states that “as soon as a woman hits 40, she’s no longer deemed relevant to fashion”, addressing how those above 40 are ignored by the industry. It becomes an issue as many are left in the dark about their own sense of style.
A gap in the market
Not only is the lack of representation in over 40s damaging the consumer’s style choices, but it is also producing a huge gap in the market. The Guardian suggests that the fashion industry could lose £11 billion due to its ageism issue. It’s almost become irrational to not cash in on the gap in the market. With so many people asking for items catered to their age range, there is not a lack of demand. Rather, it is the supply that is key. The issue of age and the excessive targeting to the younger generation has caused the fashion industry to lose out on so much money that it could have profited on.
So, why is there this gap? Even the New York Times agrees that there is a huge issue with the fashion industry when it comes to age. They offer the explanation that the longstanding belief that “youth is beauty”, has become so toxic that the fashion industry has chosen to ignore anyone over 40. With the old cynical response of “only in the fashion world”, it is incredibly apparent that the industry has become lazy when looking at age in fashion.
Is there any change?
Within recent years, a conversation over the struggle of age in fashion has started. Through the use of social media, those over 40 have started to use influencer culture in their own way. Kat Farmer, also known as ‘doesmybumlook40’, started her influencer journey on Instagram to express how turning 40 is not as anxious as you think. In a tongue-in-cheek way, she calls out brands for their small sizes and shows off her fashion sense, giving inspiration to her 200,000 followers. Not only does this show that there is a gap in the market for ageless fashion, but it also shows that people are willing to react to it.
Kat, along with many other influencers, brings hope to the market. By using influencer culture in a different age range, the industry can then gather information on the gap in the market. This would be a huge triumph as it would create revenue for the merchant, but also start looking into and producing what the consumer wants. At the end of the day, fashion should be inclusive for all ages, shapes, sizes and identities. It is only if we use our voices over different platforms, whether that be a follow, like or blog post, that the industry will start to change for the better.
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