It’s a few weeks until my next birthday. It’s not a milestone birthday, more a tipping point birthday … tipping me down the slope closer to the next birthday ending in “0”.
I have no problem with the number and I have no problem with the celebration factor that goes alongside being a birthday girl. I am a Gemini after all.
What I have a problem with is the way with each advancing year, the fashion industry – the industry that I’ve known and loved since my first pay check as a 15-year-old – seemingly likes me less.
Not me personally, except for that label whose designer chased me to work with them last year but then this year dropped me like a sack of (old!) potatoes in favour of a new marketing strategy that included sweet young things. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against sweet young things. I just find it strange that the apparent demographic of the target customer for this label has done a complete about turn and is ignoring the very people who buy their product.
Did I feel a little bit rejected? Damn straight. I’m only human. An ageing human but human all the same.
More than rejection it made me really open my eyes to all the similar messages that are around me – and possibly you – everyday. In media, on television, at the movies, on my bloody Instagram feed.
I feel like fashion’s Invisible Woman, walking around seemingly under a Harry Potter Cloak of Invisibility.
If it’s about fashion, it’s about youth.
I realise that young women have to get up and get dressed everyday but so do I … and so do you.
Why are we not marketed to in the same way?
Why if we want to get some idea about how to adopt and translate trends for our wardrobe that we have to look at a glamazon barely in her 20s as inspiration?
Inspiration, my middle-aged butt.
What fashion marketers seem to forget is that there is no magical age when we simply give up and don’t care about what we wear and how we look. Truth be told if we’ve ever given two hoots about our wardrobe, we don’t plan on ever giving up.
What’s more, we are now more likely to have the money to indulge our fashion whims.
We are more sure of who we are, less likely to follow the pack, instead applauding loudly anyone who stands out from it.
And that’s how it should be. Style does not come with a use-by-date.
Whenever I’m asked in an interview who influences or inspires my style, I know the interviewer is expecting me to say some Hollywood star (past or present) but, in all honesty, my style inspiration comes from the women around me.
My girlfriends range in age from their late 20s through to 60s. Each of them has incredible personal style, incorporating a wardrobe uniquely their own. Their clothes reflect who they are and they exude confidence accordingly.
In my perfect fashion world vision, more labels and stores would incorporate “real” women like my girlfriends into their marketing campaigns.
I’m not talking just about size here because I believe ALL women are real. I’m talking about everyday women – like you, like me, like your sister, like your girlfriend, like your mum – wearing the clothes we’d like to buy but just can’t visualise ourselves wearing.
It’s the very reason I started The Model and Me posts – not because I think I look better than a model – more that I’m offering alternative. I challenge labels and stores to take the same initiative and photograph each of their designs on a range of sizes and ages.
When I see super expensive gowns and accessories being modelled on young girls, I shake my head like the nana I’m clearly expected to be. It scares me that they are being marketed to young women, of whom few would be able to actually afford such a piece.
Imagine … just imagine … the potential if the fashion industry really started looking beyond its perfect bubble.
The designers and the store buyers may just find that we – their brands’ potential customers – are not so invisible after all.
Do you feel like an invisible woman when it comes to fashion? At what age did you find that fashion marketing was no longer relevant to you? Where do you now get your ideas and inspiration?