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It appears that age no longer dictates what we should and shouldn’t wear. Nor does gender or class but especially, (yay!!) no longer age! Fashion, on the streets, is not just for the young but also apparently for the young at heart and it seems anything goes.

For decades, designers, the catwalk and glamorous fashion magazines have dictated what we must wear (and how old we need to be to wear it). We are told what is hot and what is not from one season to the next via 19-year-old models with unattainable-pencil-thin elegance and perfectly constructed faces. Fashion, traditionally, has been heavily marketed to the young but due to a change in consumer attitude and spending power, over the past decade or so, designers are instead, looking to the streets for their direction.

According to Linda Welters and Abbey Lillethun, editors of the book, The Fashion Reader, 2007, more and more people wear what suits them and it is called ‘style’. Style, they say is about individual expression compared with fashion that must always find the next new thing in order to generate revenue. Welters and Lillethun also point out that this new approach to wearing what suits the individual has brought about ‘a variety of dress and adornment of styles which is arguably without equal in history. The homogeneity of appearance…is no longer typical.’

This shift in attitude is also noted in the 40-50 plus age group. According to online British magazine, Marketing Week, an article titled, How Women Aged Over 50 Shop for fashion, 19th February, 2014, says that there is nothing particularly special about this group choice but rather relates to lifestyle and attitude choices and has very little to do with age. It also notes that there is growth in consumer spending for this age group compared with a declining growth in the younger market. The article points out that retailers who have been successful in this older age group market, appeal to a certain mindset rather than age.

The 50 plus, is a group worth taking seriously by the fashion gurus, not that anyone particularly wants to watch a glamorous pencil thin seventy year old hobbling down the cat walk wearing Prada or gracing the cover of Vogue. The glamorous and fantastical world of fashion will safely remain intact, because it still has the wow, entertainment factor, glossy fashion magazines still provide a sort of escapism not unlike movies.

Therefore, if designers are taking their cue from the streets, how about the inclusion of older models as has been done with the integration of race in fashion. Have a closer look; on the streets there is no race barrier, no gender barrier, no class barrier and no age barrier but style and self-expression rule.

Welters, Linda & Lillethun, Abby. (2007) The fashion reader. New York: Berg.
Ch. 45 Polhemus, Ted. “Trickle down, bubble up”, pp.327-331.

Marketing Week, How Women Aged Over Fifty Shop For Fashion. Viewed 18/9/14. http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/trends/trending-topics/consumer-behaviour/how-women-aged-over-50-shop-for-fashion/4009487.article, sited 18/9/2014

The Independent, The British supermarket of style has been our biggest fashion export. Viewed 26/8/14. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/news/fashion–the-british-supermarket-of-style-street-style

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