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Key details


  • 6:30pm – 8:30pm


  • External


  • Free

Who can attend

  • Public


  • Conference or symposium

Join the debate about the future of ageing in the latest session in the Designing for Your Future Self talks series at the Design Museum, curated by Design Age Institute.

What does it mean to dress your age and can you ever be too old for a miniskirt?

In this session led by Design Age Institute, hear from a panel of experts including fashion & identity commentator Caryn Franklin, on designing fashion that suits everybody and every body, at every age.

Two recent u3a surveys revealed a sharp divide between what younger people think their grandparents should be wearing and what over-55s want to wear. With younger people thinking on the whole that older adults are best suited to socks and sandals (53%), cardigans (58%) and elastic-waist trousers (54%). The second poll of nearly 6,500 people over 55, showed that 4 out 5 older adults don’t want society to dictate what they should and shouldn't wear.

“People seem to think that once you reach 40, you’re not interested in clothes and you don’t buy anything – but that’s simply not true. A huge percentage of clothes are bought by older women – so fashion is making a huge mistake by ignoring that grey pound.”

At the same time, research by the International Longevity Centre reveals that older consumers represent an increasingly lucrative segment of the fashion market, with older adults increasing their spending on clothes and shoes by £2.9 bn (21%) between 2011 and 2018. The failure of the fashion and beauty industry to meet the needs and aspirations of older consumers could cost over £11bn over the next 20 years

The business opportunity is huge, yet ageism is deeply rooted in all aspects of fashion — the clothes themselves, how they are marketed, the models which are used and the design of the shops and online platforms where they are bought. By conforming to stereotypes the fashion industry is missing a trick. As Julia Twigg, Professor of Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Kent said, “Ageism means that the fashion industry still struggles to engage successfully with the older market, though it is worth many millions.

The event will take place at the the Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, on Tuesday 20 September 2022.

Click here to find out more and book your place.