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For decades over-50s have sadly been largely absent from advertising campaigns for fashion and beauty brands (in fact, it’s more accurate to say they’ve been absent across the board in advertising). In recent years, however, the tide is starting to turn, and we are seeing the rise of mature models as well as 50-plus influencers.
So, why has this demographic been largely absent from advertising, especially in high-fashion, despite being the highest spenders compared to millennial and Gen-Z consumers? Is it that advertisers are worried about alienating the younger audience?
From Tom Ford’s Forever Love campaign to Joni Mitchell fronting Saint Laurent ads at the age of 71, it would appear that the advertising industry is finally paying attention to the over-50s as we have begun to see an increasing number of fashion and media brands featuring women in this age group in their ad campaigns, runway shows, magazine spreads, TV ads, and billboards.
It’s about time.
The success of older models is in part due to a broader cultural change where we are slowly releasing ourselves from the shackles of a youth-obsessed mindset that casts people off as invisible when they reach a certain age.
It must be said that for many people, the representation of old age in advertising campaigns is far less important than their real-life experience of it, where ageism can be felt in the workplace, policy making and other areas. In the face of challenging the outdated ideas on ageing and retirement, there are still many who struggle to accept their changing bodies even while they celebrate their growing confidence and contentment. For this group, the rise of older models and influencers matters.
While we have long way to go, things are most definitely moving in the right direct. The world is changing.
As well as the rise in mature models, there has been a new wave of fashion, beauty and lifestyle influencers over the age of 50. Older influencers and models serve as storytellers, mentors and the embodiment of confidence and wisdom, rather than just faces who sell an item of clothing.
“I have a lot of girls in the 20s say to me, ‘I hope I’m like you when I grow up’. It’s so inspiring to me because somebody must’ve inspired me to be like this - probably my aunty. We need more role models. Old age is suddenly very trendy, and it makes me so happy,” says Suzi Grant broadcaster and style and positive age influencer who runs platform, Alternative Ageing.
“Can we see more older people now, please? I get my fair share of campaigns but I’m always the token one and it used to be the token person of colour, the token person with a disability. There’s still a way to go but we’re getting there. I’m totally anti-ageism.”
Today, older women have not only the means but also the desire to look and feel good and live life to the max. We are living longer and healthier than ever before so it makes sense that this trend will continue to rise.
“Becoming an influencer in my 60s proves that great style is ageless,” fashion influencer Sandra Wilson, aged 68, reveals to 55/Redefined.
“I was reading a very interesting article in the Telegraph recently that was about over-50s. It was about how much over-50s spend. They are the highest spending group. Yet we are not represented in advertising. To me, age is just a number. I look at myself in the mirror some days and I say, well you look good. Yes, I see the changing face, but age is what’s in your head actually.”
He we take a closer look at some of our favourite examples of the rising mature model movement.