Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Re-dressing Ageism in Fashion


Hannah Swift, PhD

Competition Sponsor: UK Research and Innovation

Ageism in the fashion industry is widespread and costly to businesses, consumers and wider society. Consumers feel excluded from mainstream fashion because ageing is not reflected positively, if at all, in the industry or in the imagery we see in magazines and adverts. The industry defines what we should wear by shaping what we think and feel is age appropriate. This restricts people’s choices and makes it hard for people to express themselves through mediums of fashion (clothing, dress, hairstyles & make up) in a way that makes them feel good about their age. Businesses lose out by failing to cater to the aesthetic needs and desires of an ageing population who want to look and feel good. This project wants to re-dress ageism in fashion by, 1) raising awareness with fashion brands and wider industry businesses of ageism, and the ways it manifests in the industry; 2) understanding and providing innovative solutions to the challenges businesses face in addressing ageism, such as how to diversify imagery by using older models in a way that retains a brands image and appeal, and doesn’t alienate younger consumers. This will benefit consumers by increasing choice and freedom to express who they are, and crucially, feel good about it, no matter what their age. It will benefit businesses by opening up to new markets and customers, and it will benefit wider society by reducing anti-ageing narratives and imagery, which perpetuate negative attitudes and stereotypes that underpin ageism in society.

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