With our culture being so youth obsessed, it’s no wonder that the majority of designers seem to be focused on satisfying every whim and fancy of the young hip millennial crowd. But what about the older generation of fashionable men and women who also want to indulge in hot trends? Well, turns out, they feel underserved.


Iris Apfelphoto by Rob Rich © 2011 robwayne1@aol.com 516-676-3939

At 93, Iris Apfel is a gray-haired fashion icon claiming that her demographic is overlooked by fashion designers

 (image by Rob Rich [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr)


With Age Comes [Buying] Power


Although there are some retailers who deliberately exclude the more mature market, this is not the case for all, as some labels clearly understand that along with age comes affluence. Hence, they strategize to establish and extend their market share in that niche. And they are smart to do so! Consider this, “In the US, people over the age of 50 own 80 percent of the country’s financial assets and are responsible for half of the country’s discretionary spending…”


French fashion house Celine is a perfect example of a brand that’s in tune with their more mature audience – it caused quite a buzz after featuring 80-year old author Joan Didion as the face of their spring campaign. Other major labels have also hopped on the bandwagon by tapping older women to front their promo campaigns in hopes of getting their own piece of the market pie – take 63-year old Anjelica Huston posing for Gap, 65-year old Jessica Lange featured in Marc Jacobs Beauty ads, 71-year old Catherine Deneuve promoting Louis Vuitton, and 71-year old Joni Mitchell as a face of Saint Laurent, to name a few.


Older & Bolder


It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that the success of any business rests with the company’s ability to understand consumer needs and satisfy them. But what does the over 50 crowd want? According to an article in the International Journal of Home Economics, “The desire for high quality, comfort and good fit was an important difference between baby boomer (40-59) and older (60+) consumers.” Retail Strategist Alison Levy also seems to support this view, “There is a huge focus on value,” she says of mature consumers. “Their spend is more driven by what they need, versus what they love and what they want. That is what is spearheading this focus on the next generation, who [retailers] feel are more impulsive, who will buy things because they are cool.”



Bloomingdale’s is one of high-end retailers that successfully outfit the more mature and affluent clientele


If you are considering joining the ranks of Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Calvin Klein, Bergdorf Goodman, DKNY, and Vivienne Westwood that are a staple among the silver-haired fashion lovers, keep in mind that there are several keys to winning this demographic:


1. Offer quality products – fast and cheap might work for the younger generation, but the 50+ crowd want to get some mileage out of their purchases, and rightfully so.

2. This demographic does not want to be considered as old, or to be patronized. They want to experience trends as well, but the hottest fads must be geared towards their specific needs to strike a chord with these consumers.

3. Comfort is extremely important, but it does not equate to drab and boring.


Mathew Gully, director of hearing care at Specsavers, sums it all up perfectly, “You can’t say ‘you are old, you need this.’ […] People don’t consider themselves as old. Their age may say one thing but their mind says something else.”


Ultimately the decision to cater to this or that demographic lies with the fashion retailer or the label’s management. But with the spending power and the potential that the mature market holds, it’s certainly too lucrative an opportunity not to consider.