Time for the fashion and beauty industry to wake up to the potential of an older customer

  • New research reveals £2.9 bn (21%) growth in spending on clothes and shoes by older people between 2011 and 2018.

Speaking at the Future of Ageing conference this week, a group of fashion and beauty industry experts will argue that the industry needs to address its institutional ageism if it is to make the most of the potential of increased spending by older people.

Research by the International Longevity Centre (Maximising the Longevity Dividend), to be published alongside the Future of Ageing conference will reveal that spending on fashion and shoes by older people will increase by £11bn (60%) from 2019 to 2040. By 2040, people aged 50 and over are expected to be this sector’s key consumer base.

Ahead of the debate, Diane Kenwood, journalist, blogger and ILC Trustee said:

“For too long the fashion and beauty industries have been bewilderingly resistant to recognising just how fashionable and stylish the generation of older consumers are and want to remain. The potential of these consumers is huge and it has been shamefully side-lined. I do, though, sense a shift in attitudes starting to stir, and I’m hopeful that change will gather momentum. Helping to realise the potential of this demographic and the opportunities they offer is one of the key pillars of our work at the ILC.”

Tricia Cusden, Founder of makeup brand for older women Look Fabulous Forever added:

“We baby boomers are ageing in a completely different way from our mothers and grandmothers. It’s time that the fashion and beauty industries wake up to the fact that we are generation fabulous not generation frump”

Jane Hallam Founder of Esteem – No Pause, clothing designed for women going through the menopause said:

“I couldn’t find stylish and effective clothing on the high street that would address my own menopausal night sweats (a natural part of the ageing process); and the only clothing I found on the internet was incredibly old fashioned and loose fitting in cotton which would have left me as cold and damp as my bedding was. At 48 years old with a wardrobe of beautiful lingerie I was not prepared to resign myself to a 1950s view of older woman nightwear and put up with damp nights for up to 10 years! Our bodies change in shape as we age as do our physical requirements, but our sense of self-esteem and style remains.”

Professor Julia Twigg Professor of Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Kent concluded:

“Ageism means that the fashion industry still struggles to engage successfully with the older market, though it is worth many millions.”



Lily Parsey or David Sinclair at ILC-UK on 0207 340 0440 or +44 (0)7745 222 553 LilyParsey@ilcuk.org.uk.


The International Longevity Centre

The ILC is the UK’s specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society, and what happens next.

We believe society has to adapt now so we can all enjoy the benefits of longevity.

We want a society that works for everyone, regardless of their age.

We know the numbers. We know the challenges. What happens next will define us for generations


Notes to Editors

Interviews with participants will be available.

Maximising the Longevity Dividend will be published on Thursday 5th December.

There will be a debate during the Future of Ageing Conference on 5 December exploring why the fashion industry doesn’t engage adequately with the demands of older people.


Delivering a longevity dividend through fashion
Why doesn’t fashion care about older consumers?
2.55pm – 3.55pm: Dale Room
Chair: Dan Jones, Strategic Consultant
Speakers: Prof Julia Twigg, University of Kent; Tricia Cusden, Look Fabulous Forever; Jane Hallam, Esteem – No Pause, Diane Kenwood, ILC Trustee

Tricia Cusden is CEO and Founder of Look Fabulous Forever, an award-winning brand, marketing beauty products formulated for the over 50s. Described as “not just a beauty brand, but a movement”, hear how this company celebrates mature beauty.

Professor Julia Twigg is Professor of Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Kent and has written widely on the politics of age and embodiment. She is the author of ‘Fashion and Age’, a study into the links between clothing and age.

Jane Hallam is the Founder of Esteem – No Pause, clothing designed for women going through the menopause.

Diane Kenwood is a member of the ILC Board of Trustees. She has been a media professional for over 30 years working in television, radio and both print and digital journalism. Her first editor’s role was on the high profile Marks & Spencer magazine, after which, she launched a new magazine aimed at the over 50 market.