“Style is not about spending a lot of money. It’s not about what or who you wear, but how you feel when wearing something. Style is about self-expression and, above all, attitude,” according to Apfel, who has previously starred in campaigns for brands such as Kate Spade, Magnum and even Australian fashion brand, Blue Illusion. She was signed on as a model at globally renowned agency IMG a mere three years ago.
Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative adviser at H&M, described the collection as “playful, opulent and rich with vibrant colours, vivid prints and opulent fabric choices”.
“The look is indulgent with a ‘more is more’ attitude and is crowned by over-the-top jewellery, which is very much a signum for Iris,” Johansson said.
“We are celebrating a unique and extraordinary woman and her creative and audacious style. She shows that style is ageless and keeps encouraging people to show who they are with fashion — and to have fun at the same time.”
The fashion industry grows up
While it may be considered a rare move in fashion, it’s not the first time H&M has included older women in its campaigns. In 2016, H&M selected then 60-year-old model Gillean McLeod as the star of its swimwear collection.
While there’s still a long way to go, more and more brands are recognising the need for age diversity. At high-end local brand Camilla and Marc, 65-old model Heather Inwood has become a familiar face this year, cropping up regularly in campaigns.
In a Camilla and Marc blogpost, Inwood said she had worked in the industry as a model when she was younger but was shelved at 33.
“The stigma then was that I was too old,” Inwood said.
“To see the acceptance [now] from the public for the senior age group, particularly in the fashion industry, is so gratifying. But that also goes for the underdog in all areas of life. It has been too long coming.”
Inwood is signed with mature age model agency Silverfox, which has seen a significant uplift in bookings of mature models in the last year, including at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney, according to CEO and co-founder Brigitte Warne.
“High end beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands have been some of the slowest categories to really embrace the use of mature models for genuine marketing purposes (not just for a quick PR stunt). However we are seeing all of that changing now and very quickly,” Warne told Inside Retail.
On top of this, Warne also saw much more diversity in the models being booked across a range of different types of jobs that previously hadn’t been seen.
“We know for a fact that consumers are tired of not seeing themselves reflected in advertising and marketing and are finally starting to vocalise this, thanks to the help of platforms like social media,” she said.
According to consumer psychology expert Jana Bowden at Macquarie University Business School, the retail industry is slowly starting to recognise that consumers “aren’t always looking for the fountain of youth”.
“[Consumers] don’t always want to see the slender, 20-year-old model featured in the campaigns for the brands they buy. They want someone they can relate to. A person they can identify with who is at a common life stage, facing common challenges and seeking common solutions,” she told Inside Retail.
Beauty faces up to ageing
Age representation is a major problem in beauty and according to Priceline research, only 12 per cent of women over the age of 40 feel accurately represented. And with Australia’s burgeoning beauty market expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.87 per cent to 2026, brands can’t afford to underrepresent a large chunk of their consumer base.
“Given that Australia also has an ageing population, and life expectancy is also increasing (84.9 years for women), the beauty industry is catering to a demographic that simply cannot be ignored,” Bowden said.
“There’s a realisation that women at every age want to look and feel vibrant. Consumers don’t pack it in during their later years of life and give up on beauty. In fact, for many, that’s when life (and beauty regimes) really do begin. Brands that are on board with positive ageing are making smart and bold moves – they are reflecting the needs of the population with age-appropriate products.”
Brands like Jurlique are embracing authenticity using models of all ages to showcase its skincare products.
Through its Redefining Ageing campaign, Jurlique sought to celebrate the privilege of growing old and being comfortable in one’s own skin, by inviting six customers between the ages of 39 and 68 to share their definition of ageing with confidence.
“We can’t hide the fine lines, but we can control our wellbeing,” one of the women told Jurlique.
Stacey Trihn, Jurlique general manager ANZ, said it’s important for the brand to accurately represent “real life” and reflect its customers in their many different forms.
The brand is now working with Byron Bay influencer and mother of five Courtney Adamo to showcase its products.
“These images [of Courtney] were not re-touched as we wanted to highlight the natural process of ageing, and that there’s nothing wrong with smile lines,” Trihn told Inside Retail.
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“The comments [on social media have been] overwhelmingly positive praising Jurlique for using a real woman with real skin and how refreshing it was to see such a natural and relatable beauty partnering with a skincare company. We were not expecting it but from a consumer insights perspective we couldn’t be happier.”
As brands start to embrace the positive side of ageing, language is changing to suit the expectations of “unapologetic consumers” Bowden said.
“The beauty industry has realised that age is not the antithesis of beauty. Age is the new diversity. It’s no longer about ‘anti-ageing’. It’s about beauty at every age and a wider portrayal and visibility of diverse age brackets,” she said.
“Consumers’ attitudes have changed. They are proud of the stage of life they are in and the skin they are in. They are looking for more inclusive conversations, diverse messaging and more inclusive casting of women that represent who they are as consumers.”