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Does the Fashion Industry Have an Ageism Problem?

The discussions surrounding diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry are now commonplace. Yet these discussions tend to rarely extended to include the lack of age varied representation, particularly the older generation. Ageing is a process of life, so why is it that this process, through the older generation, less represented than the younger counterparts?

With the lack of representation through advertising and targeting clothing brands, there could be a gap in the market. Fashion can be about self-expression and inclusivity. Fashion cannot be fully diversified whilst a demographic of customers are not seeing themselves represented and reflected within the industry.

Is fashion catered towards young people?

There is a common theme within the fashion industry. More often than not is it heavily catered towards the younger generation. Teenagers to young adults seem to be the main target audience, yet people over 50 years old are still active shoppers within the industry. The belief that fashion is for the young is simply untrue. With the rise of social media and the custom of sharing outfits online, how we perceive and interact with fashion is changing. No longer is brand advertising the only source of how we see clothes marketed. It is also though social media sharing.

Statistically in the United Kingdom, those aged 25-34 are the most avid Instagram users. They make up 30.5% of the user base. 18-24-year olds the next at 23.1%. Yet as we look at the older generation, over 50s for example, they make up just 9.4% of viewers.

So, it is easy to see why fashion on social media sites such as Instagram is heavily catered towards the younger generation. After all they do make up a significant percentage of the market. Yet as shown, the older generation are still present.

Social media and aesthetics

This can build up a certain aesthetic that people are used to seeing on these social media sites. With the younger generation being a desirable target audience, advertising, styles, and models are often also tailored towards this aesthetic. Styles in fashion are usually influenced by the younger generation. But this does not mean the older generation are not a part of the clientele.

In the industry’s efforts to diversify through advertising, runways and models, the inclusivity of fashion has improved overall. But fashion is meant to be for everybody, no matter of age. So, isn’t it time for more companies to acknowledge their older clientele through advertising and models?

Advertising issues and representation

This is not to say all fashion brands are catered towards a younger audience. Like many things there is going to be aspects catered towards a certain group, it is just targeted advertising. There is certain brands targeted towards the older generation.

Brands such as ‘Rival Clothing’, ‘Classic Clothing’ and ‘Very’ have targeted collections towards older audiences. So, it is not that the industry actively excludes this age demographic, but they are generally seen less in the more well known brands advertising campaigns.

If the industry continues to advertise with a focus on the younger generation, it is missing an opportunity to show full inclusivity. One size simply does not fit all. To see the same clothes on younger and older bodies would be more constructive. After all it is important for the customers to see how the items will look on different body types.

Traditional advertising vs digital

Although social media is a prevalent part of the majority of people’s everyday lives, it is not the only significant part of the fashion industry. Brands still typically advertise through traditional means such as magazines, billboards, posters, flyers, runways.

These are still prevalent parts of the fashion industries advertising means. With digital means popular amongst younger generations, and with the older not so much this leaves them with the option of the high street. Yet if these posters that decorate the store window only advertise the products for those under 30, it could exclude the clientele.

Like many aspects it is sometimes a case of where to look. If searched for fashion brands that advertise towards the older generation they are present. Yet sometimes is not just the case of those brands being, there it is also the brands in which it is missing.

f it needs to be heavily searched for rather than advertised directly to the customer then the marketing is not clear. It could be these inclusive brands that pave the way for a less ageism advertising standard and hopefully more well-known and popular brands will follow. The fashion industry is making efforts to diversity and extend the inclusivity and expression it has to offer but it still has work to do. People deserve to see themselves represented in the industry and age is no exception.


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