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A coming of age for over-45s fashion

OK, so the women on our cover this week are actresses, models, the wife of a president and a fashion editor, but we could just as well have gone onto the street and found eight stylish “civilians” to prove that women don’t stop loving fashion and looking good the day after their 45th birthday.

It is strange then that this market has been hopelessly neglected by large swathes of the fashion industry in recent years. And the media hasn’t helped matters when it comes to fuelling our national obsession with youth. Women in the public eye have been roundly deemed as past it before they’ve hit 40 and, bar a few exceptions, the role models held up to aspire to are under 30 in age and below six in dress size.

Thank heavens then that fashion is starting to wake up to the fact that this industry doesn’t have to be inextricably linked with youth, and that these women have money to spend.

It is clear this is a market with growth potential; according to the Office of National Statistics, 42.5% of women are 45-plus and yet only 33% of sales from high street chains come from that age group, says TNS FashionTrak (see our special feature, page 26). It’s not too surprising when you consider that much of what is on the high street is too young or too old for this new generation of stylish seniors.

Independent retailers, however, have already latched on to this lucrative sector, with 55% of their sales going to over 45s.

They knew long before Michelle Obama bounced onto the scene that women in this age group were worthy of attention. It is just pleasing that everyone else is waking up to that fact too.

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