It’s ironic to think not many over-40s are seen walking the ramp at fashion weeks or in the advertising campaigns by fashion houses although they make up for a large chunk of buyers with their spending capacity.
Designer Raj Shroff explains what is considered aspirational and hence most commonly seen at the fashion circuits. “Brands and fashion houses work with what is aspirational for the masses. It’s the film stars and then sports celebrities. I make my own clients (a lot of whom are over 40s) walk the ramp at my city shows because I want to evoke a certain emotion. It’s better to have their energy on the ramp than professional models.”
The narrative is changing though. You don’t just fall off the fashion grid once you hit 40. Due to the democratising power of social media the number of mature fashion influencers are slowly on the rise.
Influencer and socialite Surekha Prahlad, 59, is organically gaining followers. “My page is meant to be a place where I chronicle, for myself, my moods, the colours that make my day, love for travel, my passion for Sarees, other garments, jewellery and the daily chapters that make my life. Every woman has an innate need for expression and her own sense of fashion. Mature women are just as fashionable though the definitions could be quite different.” She chirps with a child like enthusiasm.
A few years ago, when actress Sai Pallavi did movies without make-up sporting her pimple flushed cheeks, she became an overnight sensation. More recently Neena Gupta’s Badhaai Ho was accepted well too. Isn’t it a cue that consumers are ready to have more real-like icons whom they connect to?
Rajeev Ravindranathan who is an actor himself and runs an advertising agency explains , “You’ll see a lot more video blogs, digital videos, opinion and review pieces, talks and presentations that feature older women. It takes quite some stamina and energy for a person to be omnipresent on so many mediums and multitasking on all of them at the same time. Therefore I think brands are automatically interested in speaking with these people, who tend to be younger. As a result, their role models and aspirational figures are also younger. Hence, if you’re talking about visual mediums, yes, older women (and men) are subject to a very real, though unspoken ageism.”
Looks like the fashion industry is still in love with all things youthful and is not very inclusive at the moment. Author and 40-plus fashion blogger Kiran Manral implores “I would really like to see fashion and beauty brands confront and acknowledge the beauty and fierceness of the forty plus woman, something that no make up and styling can bring, something that comes with a life lived and experienced that adds beauty and depth to them. I welcome brands to acknowledge and incorporate the forty plus woman into their marketing and advertising and not merely as an adjunct to the younger woman, but as subject all her own.”