This London Fashion Week Show Finally Gave Visibility To Older Models In A Stylish Way

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It’s the kind of attention to a fashion show that would make Yeezy jealous…

London Fashion Week may be over for another season, but along with the usual round of celebrity and high profile designers came a show which pushed open the gates of the industry just a little further, all in the name of inclusivity and diversity.

When you imagine the stereotypical high fashion model in your mind, you’ll be forgiven for thinking of a thin, white, young woman. It’s the way we have been conditioned to think in terms of beauty standards. But over the past few years, which an increased focus on body diversity, feminism and female empowerment, we are seeing designers push through the tired mold with a new look (not a trend – inclusivity is far more than just another seasonal fad) that seeks to appeal to all types of women.

Designers like Rick Owens at Paris Fashion week and Carrie Hammer and New York Fashion Week are just a couple of standout names looking to set the bar higher, and show the fashion industry that choosing models who purposely look different to what we are used to seeing is important and necessary.

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British clothing brand JD Williams have been an outspoken leader in showing how brands should market to all ages. Around the time of the ’50 Shades of Grey’ movie release, they launched a campaign capitalizing on the buzz called ‘Over 50 Shades of Grey’ to promote the fact that hey, shocker, older women like to wear fashionable clothes and should be catered for as well.

More recently, their ‘Fashion Begins at Fifty’ campaign was launched in response to a UK survey around body image and beauty. Out of 2000 women aged 50 and above, more than half felt popular brands ignored them from their marketing campaigns which made them feel invisible.

Not one to skim over this opportunity to A) tap into a clearly overlooked market, and B) be a leader for change in the fashion world, JD Williams’ Fashion Begins at Fifty sent a clear message about who they wanted to include in their messaging.

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This season’s London Fashion Week included a new event called Fifty Plus Fashion Week, a 25 minute catwalk show at the Cafe Royale designed to prove that it’s about style, not age, held on the first day of the event February 19.

The mail-order retailer asked students from London College of Fashion to design a collection celebrating the modern woman aged 50+. Some of the models in the show included 87 year old Daphne Selfe, who is considered the oldest working model in the world to close the show, model/racehorse-trainer Tracey Bailey, and 63 year old Marie Helvin.

It was the perfect statement to show older women that they are not invisible to all fashion brands and retailers.

“This market is huge, it is under served, and we want to drive the opportunity. Our findings show women over fifty want to be represented by the media. They want beautiful aspirational fashion imagery; they want someone in their age and shape they can relate to. JD Williams is changing all the time to answer that need,” said Angela Spindler, CEO of JD Williams’ parent company N Brown, to the Telegraph.

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Like we mentioned earlier, it only makes economic sense for brands to be targeting as wide of a consumer base as possible, as figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research show that 50+ women spend £6.7 billion a year on women’s wear, over 4% of the market and growing at a rate of 1% a year.

The collection on display featured two aspects that women over 50 were found to value most from the YouGov survey – comfort and fashion. And it wasn’t just the models who were representing a previously-ignored consumer demographic, the show’s stylist Caroline Baker was 70 and felt the show was a great way to reach out to the women who don’t feel they are being catered to.

“I feel very strongly about the lack of fashionable role models for women over 50. Helen Mirren looks great on the red carpet, but what about role models for everyday style? I love to see women looking cool. Where are they?” she asked. Great point!

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“The area where I think women 50+ are most ignored is in fashion magazines and advertising,” said model Marie Helvin, agreeing with Caroline.

We need to see more brands and designers making an effort, and breaking down the gatekeepers in the fashion world in order to make more men and women feel included in the fashion conversation. We’ve seen how effective it has been for many plus size women using social media and blogs to force the industry to pay attention to a different kind of body, now we need to see the same kind of acceptance for different ages and ethnicities. Change is coming, and we applaud brands like JD Williams for leading the way.

Take a look at their fierce Fifty Plus fashion show below:


 

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