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Why are 50+ women invisible to the fashion industry?
Remember the dignity of your womanhood. Do not appeal, do not beg, do not grovel. Take courage, join hands, stand besides us, fight with us.
- Christabel Pankhurst -
Reading all the coverage this week about the centenary of women gaining the vote, this statement particularly resonated with me. The campaign which saw women repeatedly fighting and risking, or in the case of Emily Davison, losing, their lives for equality is one of the most powerful movements there’s ever been, and this week their fight continues to inspire and inform people to strive against inequality.
2018 so far feels like ‘Women’ are having a moment, #metoo, the furore about gender pay gap at the BBC and my favourite to date has been Oprah Winfrey’s rallying cry at The Golden Globes with her ‘A new day is dawning’ speech, inspiring stuff!
When starting Hope my dream was to have a brand ‘for women, by women’. We’ve largely achieved this, 90% of the team are women and our average age is 45. Whilst I love the knowledge and experience we 'wrinklies' bring to the team I also wanted to create opportunities for young women coming out of school or University. Offering them a good grounded training in all elements of the business, which I am proud to have done with some of the younger members of our small team who are progressing well.
The team all together at Christmas
A report out this month called ‘The Elastic Generation’, has revealed that 69 per cent of UK women over 53 feel ignored by the fashion industry. Despite campaigns and protests in recent years calling for authentic female representation in the fashion industry, just over two thirds of women still believe nothing has changed, and advertisers are still only interested in targeting younger people. The report focused on women aged between 53-72, and has highlighted a misconception amongst many retailers that once women arrive at 50, and particularly when their bodies change as they go through the menopause, they give up on their image.
The report first came out in 2015 just before we launched Hope and I can remember feeling so much empathy with its findings because it’s exactly what I’d been saying as I was developing the Hope concept. When I hit my 50’s; in my head I still felt like I was 30 but my body didn’t. I knew I had to adapt my style to suit my changing body shape, I still wanted to look stylish and feel confident and why not!
This gap in the market spurred me on to launch Hope. More than ever now, it is important to me that all women feel included and catered for at Hope, so I ensure that all women in our campaigns are of different ages, sizes, ethnicity and are a mix of real women and real models!
I firmly believe when you look good you feel good and many of your customer reviews confirm that, here’s one of my recent favourites:
I just adore this clothing brand. I have just received another order from them and when I was trying items on I realised that I was trying things on in different ways and playing with around with them in a way that I don't with my other clothes. It struck me that I was having fun with them. You might think that sounds strange but it made me realise that I haven't done this with clothing since I was a child. Usually I try something new on and it goes on one way and looks one way and thats it - but with HF items they are so versatile you can wear them in lots of different ways to have a different look. I LOVE this freedom I have with their clothes. As well as being fun I really believe that Im getting my moneys worth out of each item - there's not many brands that can boast that. Try Hope Fashions out and see how you get on.
- J on Trustpilot -
The conclusion to the Elastic Generation section on 'Audacious Style' is as follows;
- Style is ageless, so shift the narrative that focuses on youth. Celebrate the self-knowledge that comes with age.
- Create clothes that lift Elastic women’s confidence. Ditch the beige and don’t try to make her invisible.
- Get real, understand how older bodies are different and create designs that flatter them.
Couldn’t agree more, this research is proof the fashion industry and advertisers need to make a change. I would love to know what you think?