Ageism & Fashion Trade Shows: 2 Years In
Last week I had the honour of being invited to speak at Pure London – the UK’s leading fashion trade show. With the-Bias-Cut.com going from strength to strength, I was asked to talk about how I built the business from scratch and why it’s my goal to celebrate stylish women of all ages.
Given I was the 10.30am slot – the first of the day – I didn't have high expectations of the number who would attend. But I was overwhelmed by the number of people who did, with many having coming to the show especially to hear more about celebrating middle aged and older women. And afterwards I was almost buried by the number of people lining up to talk to me and introduce me to their brand.
It was a high point, but even more so given the stark contrast to 2 years ago when I first attended Pure and other designer fashion tradeshows. Having only started the blog at that point, I was on the search to find brands which one day would become part of the-Bias-Cut.com. And whilst I found one shining beaker of light (the much loved and ever fabulous Gibson & Birkbeck - who's Spiderweb shirt I wore), overall the experience left me demoralised – and resulted in my writing THIS article.
In short, the vast majority of designers were either dismissive or at times disrespectful about the idea of older women wearing their pieces. And those that did seem to target this age group, offered patronising, frumpy designs. It left me upset and angry, but more resolved than ever to cut through ageism and prove these brands wrong.
So in only 2 years we’ve already come a long way. For those of you who’ve been with us since the beginning, you’ll know we started with just 4 labels in March 2016. By September this year we’ll have 25 – including 7 new ones. How things have changed.
It’s so encouraging that more and more designers want to recognise and celebrate women over 40 and be a part of the-Bias-Cut.com. And really that’s thanks to you. You are making sure your voices are being heard, and refusing to be treated as invisible. And, with your continued support, we have been able to spread this message and open up the eyes of designers.
Of course, the fight against ageism in Fashion is far from over. There are still labels that don’t want to be associated with the 40+ market, and others that purely see it as a monetary opportunity. And I havn’t forgotten those designers that outright rejected us. But sometimes it’s worth taking a pause and giving ourselves a pat on the back. Because, collectively and individually we have made significant ground towards ending ageism in Fashion. From all ages increasingly being featured in campaigns and editorials, to more labels designing with the stylish 40+ woman in mind. So here’s to the next 2 years and beyond – I can't wait to continue this journey with you.
Images: courtesy of Hannah Miles at Photography By Miles