While we may live in a notoriously youth-obsessed world, there is a growing awareness of the influence of older women as consumers and the purchasing power they possess. Brands are recognizing that this demographic is not one to completely ignore, particularly with existing studies indicating that wealthier older consumers are more likely than the young to pay more for quality goods. “We exist in a post-recessionary world and the millennial generation is more challenged in terms of its buying ability. There is a certain economic imperative for luxury brands to chase mature consumers,” New York Times Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic Vanessa Friedman told Adweek.
Luxury French fashion house Céline set the Internet abuzz with the release of its spring 2015 print campaign starring then 80-year-old author Joan Didion. The ad quickly went viral, breaking the internet before hitting The New York Times, Forbes and The Atlantic. Similarly, Dolce and Gabbana made headlines for featuring elderly Italian women for its Spring 2015 line.
The beauty industry soon caught on with L’Oréal announcing that it had signed ’60s icon Twiggy as its latest brand ambassador, joining 72-year-old Helen Mirren. In September 2017, Maye Musk became the newest CoverGirl, joining the likes of Zendaya, Katy Parry, Ayesha Curry and Issa Rae. The 69-year-old model who has appeared on the covers of magazines like Vogue Korea and Elle Quebec and starred in beauty campaigns for Clinique and Revlon also happens to be the mom of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. “Thank you COVERGIRL, for including me in your tribe of diversity,” Maye wrote in an Instagram post. “Who knew, after many years of admiring the gorgeous COVERGIRL models, that I would be one at 69 years of age? It just shows, never give up.”
More evidence that world of fashion and beauty is embracing “old age” and celebrating women of a certain age comes in the form of Iris Apfel. Kate Spade and jewellery designer Alexis Bittar are known for rolling out campaigns featuring the 96-year-old style legend. “Personal style and fearlessness are attractive regardless of age,” said Mary Beech, CMO of Kate Spade, whose spring 2015 campaign featured a group of women that included Apfel alongside then 22-year-old model Karlie Kloss. “Iris has this incredible confidence and bravado that you would envy at any age, and the fact that she has continued to showcase that in various aspects of her life, I think people really look up to that and want to emulate that,” he said. Apfel has also been unofficially credited as the inspiration behind Alessandro Michele’s Gucci’s granny-chic aesthetic.
On the local front, designer extraodinare, David Tlale recently released his Spring/Summer 17-18 collection. The collection is fronted by the designer’s fabulous muse and mother and is available at Luminance.