There is a striking paradox that plagues the fashion industry—fashion designers are creating clothes for jeune femme despite the fact that they are not the main consumers purchasing these garments.
This perplexing dichotomy persists despite the fact that, at the couture level, a dress costs thousands of dollars. Add on the handbag, the shoes, the jewellery—it’s not your average student wage.
So, who are the actual customers that elite designers are ignoring?
The answer is, women-of-a-certain-age.
A Conference Board of Canada study reported that The average disposable income of Canadians between the ages of 50 and 54 is now 64% higher than that of 25- to 29-year-olds…up from 47% in the mid-1980’s.
In the US there are similar findings:
- Baby-Boomer women born between 1946 and 1964… are more financially empowered than any previous generation of women.
- 50-plus American women are the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation of women in history.
- Once the college bills are out of the way and children launch their own households, the discretionary spending power of 50-plus women soars. They spend 2.5 times what the average person spends. Women are the primary buyers for computers, cars, banking, financial services and a lot of other big-ticket categories.
Yet the fashion industry is out of sync with this powerful and affluent demographic.
Older women do not identify with the young models walking the runways of the world; and they find it exceedingly difficult shop because most clothing is not designed with them in mind.
For instance, there is the issue of sleeves. Why are most dresses sleeveless regardless of the season? The fact is, as one ages, the arms do, too. Many mature women simply want sleeves.
It seems a small thing to ask.
Photo: Vogue Taiwan, December 2015