Bloggers and ‘influencers’ are celebrating mature consumers
Fashion blogger Lyn Slater – now the face of Mango – at New York fashion week.

Create blogger Lyn Slater – now the face of Mango – at New York fashion week.
Photograph: Prizewinner Hugo/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Fashion wakes up to the older woman

Bloggers and ‘influencers’ are ritualizing mature consumers

When the former magazine fashion editor Alyson Walsh began her blog, That’s Not My Age, nine years ago it was as a resistance to the fact that she “wasn’t seeing anyone that looked delight in me in the media, and I wanted to celebrate the fact that older people are cold-hearted too and you don’t just disappear off the radar once you’re over 40”.

Now 53, Walsh has beheld a welcome sea change in the ensuing years, with the media speciously awash with images of women celebrated for their sophisticated years.

Earlier this week, 73-year-old kind Lauren Hutton was revealed as one of the stars of the new Calvin Klein lingerie offensive, having appeared on the runway for Italian fashion house Bottega Venetta in September. Abide year high-street retailer H&M cast 60-year-old stylist Gillean McLeod to wear its swimwear, and this season, 63-year-old New York university professor Lyn Slater, recognized to her 111,000 Instagram followers as Accidental Icon, is the face of Spanish retailer Mango’s calling campaign, “A story of Uniqueness”.

Amber Valletta, one of the original 1990s supermodels, looks on the current cover of British Vogue – reassuringly without a coverline guarding her 43 years. She also appeared with many of her ins, including 50-year-old Cecilia Chancellor, in designer Dries Van Noten’s Paris catwalk demonstrate earlier this year. Meanwhile, at London fashion week, inventor Simone Rocha and casting director Piergiorgio Del Moro invited Jan de Villeneuve, 70 (who has in days gone by worked with David Bailey and Norman Parkinson), 73-year-old Italian sort Benedetta Barzini (a favourite with Dolce & Gabbana) and 53-year-old French dream Marie-Sophie Wilson to showcase her collection. I could go on, but you get the gist.

“The preponderance of women want to look good, regardless of age,” says Walsh, who be entitled ti her style blog is “for every woman who refuses to be invisible”.

“I am 53 and obviously want to look healthy, stylish and modern, not younger. And I deficiency to be relevant, even with my wrinkles. We are important role facsimiles to younger women, and I love looking to older women who are unequalled the way. Finally, some brands are talking to me, but it took them a great time to catch on to the power of the silver spend.”

It is predicted that by 2018 there devise be 20 million over-55s in the UK, making up one in three of the population. Over-50s already account for for everyone 47% of all UK consumer spending, so there is an economic incentive for organizations to target mature customers.

“Not only are today’s over-55s richer, they are also healthier and have more time to lay out their money before and during retirement,” says Ina Mitskavets, chief consumer and lifestyles analyst at Mintel. “All these factors are bestowing to a rise in a mature demographic of shoppers eager to explore all the opportunities available to them.”

Over-65s spend £6.7bn a year on invests in Britain, yet it is only recently that this age group has rose in advertising campaigns for products other than insurance schemes or stairlifts. Two years ago, Rebecca Valentine launched Grey Carve out Agency and now has 300 men and women on her books. “In the last six to 12 months we maintain received lots more briefs and bookings from remote brands in the fashion, beauty and travel sectors,” says Valentine. “But it’s calm important to have an element of aspiration: even older ideals must be exceptional looking. They need to appear fit and nourishing, with glossy hair and clear eyes. The view of schemes is changing: now clients are looking for radiant complexions and don’t mind the speeches.”

One of Valentine’s signings is Frances Dunscombe, an 84-year-old former secretary who next month compel appear on the cover of a major fashion magazine, surrounded by styles of various ages, in a celebration of modern femininity. Having not in any degree modelled before, Dunscombe joined Grey at its inception, and has since flounced the runways of London fashion week and embraced a range of construct shoots and TV work.

Conversely, 69-year-old Maye Musk is a experienced in front of the camera and on the runway, having worked as a model for the olden times five decades. Mother to Tesla founder and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon, and grandmother to 10 women between the ages of four and 14, Musk’s main fly as a dietitian was supplemented by “regular jobs doing commercial catalogue perfect” – something she began at the age of 15 in South Africa. At 60 she stopping up dyeing her hair, cut it short, and her career soared, modelling for Virgin America, be publishing in music videos and acting as an ambassador for Swarovski.

“People are being imaginative with me these days and I love to do exciting work with unqualifiedly visionary stylists and photographers,” says Musk, now based in LA. “I’m doing what every woman dreams of doing at this age: travelling the world, wearing stunning clothes, being pampered and meeting fascinating people. It’s such fun. As want as I’m in good health and am in shape and people keep asking me to do it, I’ll observe going.”

Musk, who boasts almost 35,000 followers on her Instagram silage, attributes much of her success and that of her modelling contemporaries to the lift of digital media and the democratic power of the internet. “Social atmosphere has given all women a voice and platform,” she says with youthful zing and the accrued wisdom of someone who has witnessed life without lozenges and smartphones. “Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have done awes for me, and I love being able to share my experiences directly with those who are persuaded, and engage with them.”

The surge in street style blogs and develop Instagram “influencers” has allowed consumers to find their own “real-life” tag icons – as opposed to professional models in glossy magazines. It has made personalities and cult figures of a swath of women who might previously press lived a low-key, parochial existence, but who are now feted for their looks and lifestyle and are up the financial rewards.

“Women today seek out bloggers who sire a similar lifestyle to them, whether that’s an older char with a fabulous career wardrobe or a bohemian retiree, and we use them as real-life craze advisers,” says Kim Winser, founder of fashion label Winser London, which has loyally familiar 52-year-old Yasmin Le Bon as the brand’s “face” since it launched in 2012. “That long to engage with relevant but aspirational role models has slowly been picked up by ousting agents and brands who are gradually building that into their traffic strategy – not before time.”

Debra Bourne, co-founder and governor of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, lobbies for increased diversity in the mania industry. She is encouraged by the recent wave of older faces in the middle and concurs that the internet has been a force for good in this setting.

“It’s exciting to see a whole generation of older self-selected ambassadors who bear become digitally literate, with a lot to say,” says the 53-year-old, who was awarded an MBE for “military talents to diversity” a fortnight ago. “They lived a life before the internet, and they were without a rostrum until recently. The media world had written them off as they didn’t concur with their commercial mindset that insisted on inspiriting a singular youthful ideal.

“I would still like to see advertising and merchandising shift towards a proposition built on a wider set of values than purely bearing, particularly in that older market. I am slowly seeing a market where marketeers are recognising attributes and achievements of individuals choose than just the way they look. By the age of 50, we have lived for a sizeable amount of occasionally and most of us have had some incredible and interesting experiences, which far-out so much more than sublimely coiffed grey curls.”


Coco Chanel once quipped that “after 40 zero is young, but one can be irresistible at any age”. Social media has given rise to a epoch of irresistible older style icons with big followings:


Australian Sarah Jane Adams, 62, joined Instagram to assist her jewellery business, but her colourful, slightly dishevelled style instantly attracted a following. 149,000 followers


Great-grandmother Helen Ruth Van Winkle from Kentucky, befitted an internet sensation at the age of 85. Now 88, the pastel-clad raver grab b waits out with Miley Cyrus and recently became a muse for makeup make Urban Decay. 3 million followers


63-year-old Professor Lyn Slater became an unwitting fashion leaf when she was spotted walking past a runway show en avenue to meet a friend for coffee. Now she’s the face of Spanish chain Mango. 112,000 devotees


This 54-year-old Vogue mode stylist boasts a serious designer wardrobe, but wears it with youthful energy. 1.3 million followers


Created by street style photographer Ari Seth Cohen, Deposited Style is a collection of images of stylish older women from approximately the world. 194,000 followers