A lifetime of style


Join speakers including Caryn Franklin at the Design Museum on 20 Sept, to explore fashion design that suits everybody and every body, at every age.

Date: Tuesday 20 September 2022 | 18:30 – 20:30 (GMT)  

Venue: Live at Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG

Tickets:  £8 on-site tickets at Design Museum

Book your ticket at DesignMuseum.org

What does it mean to dress your age and can you ever be too old for a miniskirt?

In this session, hear from a panel of expert researchers, designers and ageing advocates on designing fashion that suits everybody and every body, at every age.

Two recent u3a surveys revealed a sharp divide between what younger people think their grandparents should be wearing and what over-55s want to wear. With younger people thinking on the whole that older adults are best suited to socks and sandals (53%), cardigans (58%) and elastic-waist trousers (54%). The second poll of nearly 6,500 people over 55, showed that 4 out 5 older adults don’t want society to dictate what they should and shouldn’t wear.

“People seem to think that once you reach 40, you’re not interested in clothes and you don’t buy anything – but that’s simply not true. A huge percentage of clothes are bought by older women – so fashion is making a huge mistake by ignoring that grey pound.”

At the same time, research by the International Longevity Centre reveals that older consumers represent an increasingly lucrative segment of the fashion market, with older adults increasing their spending on clothes and shoes by £2.9 bn (21%) between 2011 and 2018. The failure of the fashion and beauty industry to meet the needs and aspirations of older consumers could cost over £11bn over the next 20 years

The business opportunity is huge, yet ageism is deeply rooted in all aspects of fashion — the clothes themselves, how they are marketed, the models which are used and the design of the shops and online platforms where they are bought. By conforming to stereotypes the fashion industry is missing a trick. As Julia Twigg, Professor of Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Kent said, “Ageism means that the fashion industry still struggles to engage successfully with the older market, though it is worth many millions.