The Death Of Age As Declared By Fashion

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The speed human behaviour changes makes it hard to establish cuts in a generational timeline. A non-age-ranged youth demands emancipation

by Eduardo Biz cover image Ari Seth Cohen translated by José Osmar

What does it mean to be young these days? Generational theories help us better understand the last decades, but recent studies show the non-age-ranged youth demands for emancipation. Today, the speed human behaviour changes blurs the concept of generation, and makes it difficult to establish cuts in its timeline.

Human being has never had such a long life span. Everyone feels the need to adapt to the new ways of living, connecting, relating.

The idea of age is complex, and definitely subjective. One of the most iconic figures of contemporary culture is Pharrel, 40 years old. On the other hand, fashion editor Tavi Gevinson had an amazing comprehension of youth culture even before she was 18.
The idea of age is complex, and definitely subjective. One of the most iconic figures of contemporary culture is Pharrel, 40 years old. On the other hand, fashion editor Tavi Gevinson had an amazing comprehension of youth culture even before she was 18.

Until recently, fashion had youth on a pedestal as an absolute synonym of young age. Cosmetics industry always had as worst enemy the wrinkles, as scandalously young models became a fever, intensely disputed by the main luxury brands.
In the last years we are seeing, though, the Unfashion movement get stronger, reevaluating some fashion stereotypes and proposing a transgression on its own system. Youth is becoming less of an unquestionable inspiration, and excluding age range of the contemporary popular topics.

Ten years ago, Dove was doing a groundbreaking move on this topic with the release of the “Campaign for the Real Beauty”. From that point on, other brands started to pay attention to “real people”, and among them the older people too.

Model Jacky O’Shaughnessy, over 60 years old, starred in an American Apparel campaign.
Model Jacky O’Shaughnessy, over 60 years old, starred in an American Apparel campaign.

More than an inclusion attempt, there is really a market matter behind this phenomenon: this customer group exists, therefore there is money to be made. The older population – more numerous today than ever – has more money and health than younger groups. The Baby boomers, most populous of the generations, are today between their 48 and 66 years. And they will not stop getting older.

Hollywood is obsessed with the idea that the 30s are the new 20s, the 40s are the new 30s, and so on. In the end, everyone faces the same problems.
Hollywood is obsessed with the idea that the 30s are the new 20s, the 40s are the new 30s, and so on. In the end, everyone faces the same problems.

Cover girls

The blog Advanced Style was a pioneer for associating style with senior public. Since 2008, Ari Seth Cohen publishes profiles of women who can give a masterclass on elegance. In 2012, he was responsible for a Lanvin campaign casting.

Jacquie Tajah Murdock, 82.
Jacquie Tajah Murdock, 82.
Fashion industry is giving more importance to new icons, new archetypes unprecedented as aspirational synonyms. Personalities that make an impression for having aged healthy and built their own style, inspiring new generations to reflect upon how they are gonna be in the future. It is a consciousness awakening about today and tomorrow.

While some of these women challenge us to believe the age they are, others take pride on having avoided Botox completely. It’s the case of the model Daphne Selfe. At 85 years old, she continues to work as much as when she was newer, providing proof that fashion industry – little by little – is rethinking the expiration date of its castings.

Daphne Selfe’s secret, according to herself, is her long hair, her rejection for the Botox, and good genes. Gardening, walks and yoga are incremental.
Daphne Selfe’s secret, according to herself, is her long hair, her rejection for the Botox, and good genes. Gardening, walks and yoga are incremental.
Model Georgia Jagger was the cover of Elle alongside her mother, Jerry Hall.
Model Georgia Jagger was the cover of Elle alongside her mother, Jerry Hall.
Iris Apfel: an octogenarian on the cover of one of contemporary culture’s most iconic magazines.
Iris Apfel: an octogenarian on the cover of one of contemporary culture’s most iconic magazines.
Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon e Sigourney Weaver na V Magazine: who cares about age?
Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon e Sigourney Weaver na V Magazine: who cares about age?
Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs makeup line.
Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs makeup line.

Even though several brands are establishing new bonds with the senior public, fashion market still depends a lot on the association between the concept of youth and young age. The changing of this idea is happening slowly, but the growing number of examples is stimulating. The influence they have is undeniable.

In the future, brands will not be able to leave aside their reach on older consumers. How old will you be when this happens?

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