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Lavin Paris New Fall Ad

Meet Jacquie Tajah Murdock. She’s an 82 year old dancer who grew up in Harlem and now she’s the face of Lavin’s new ad campaign.

This woman is by no means the average 82 year old African-American. She has had a long career as a dancer having first appeared onstage at the Apollo Theatre at the age of 17 in a troupe called Norma Miller’s Jazz Dancers. According to The Daily Beast, “She is an expert in Russian ballet, was a belly dancer at Manhattan’s Istanbul Club in the 1960s, which brought her to Egypt, and was one of the first black typists at Universal Films in 1948. She has earned three degrees, including a master’s in “Media Ecology” at NYU, where she was an administrative assistant to a research professor for 30 years.  She currently is a lecturer and performer at the Jazz Museum in Harlem, has been honored at the Apollo Theatre, and has performed at Frederick Douglass Academy and the Harlem School of the Arts. She is now working on a book about her life.”

Image Courtesy of Ari Seth Cohen/ Advanced Style

She was spotted while walking through her neighborhood by Ari Seth Cohen who runs Advanced Style, a blog about “the most stylish and creative older folks. Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest. Advanced Style offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age,” according to his page. Cohen says,

For the past few years brands (like Lavin) have been reaching out to me for help with how to reach this important demographic. The most simple advice I can give is to feature men and women that relate to the demographic a brand is trying to reach. Older people want to see someone they can relate to and can be inspired by. Make campaigns uplifting, inspiring, and aspirational.

According to Fashionista.com this isn’t the first time a campaign featured a model over 60. In early July “American Apparel cast a 61-year-old in their ads, and then Lanvin’s fall 2012 campaign broke featuring not one but two ladies over the age 60 (62, and 82, respectively). And, most recently, Bulgari released its Fall 2012 ads starring 60-year-old Isabella Rossellini. Fashion, it seems, has found a new model muse–and she’s over the age of 60.”

Image via Fashionista

So why is the over the age of 60 demographic so important? Because they are a huge part of our population, in fact the most sizable population group in the United states and are commonly known as the Baby Boomers. According to Magdalena Kondej, head of apparel research at market research firm Euromonitor, this group makes up for more than 8% of the world’s population and is expected to grow to 9% by 2016. Due to increase in the average life expectancy, we can expect this number to grow even more in coming years. Cohen relates,

Older people make up the largest part of the population and they are tired of being ignored. Media either tends to ignore the senior set, or casts aging in a negative light. But with the internet and blogger boom images outside of the fashion industry have become very influential. Now, brands have taken notice and are realizing that they have to market towards ‘real’ people.

American Apparel

There is a lot of money to be made with this demographic. And I mean A LOT!

One of the most interesting trends we are observing is that elderly consumers these days are more inclined to spend their money,” Kondej said. “The preconception of older consumers is that they tend to be more set in their ways than their younger counterparts, more frugal and less hedonistic, and more likely to save than spend freely. However, while this is not untrue, as attitudes to ageing have changed, a growing number of over 60s are increasingly drawing equity on their houses or taking on debt rather than leaving their assets to offspring. In addition, in Western Europe, the age group with the greatest rise in average annual gross income between 2006 and 2011 was the over 65s, seeing growth of 3.9% in real terms.

While targeting this demographic is nothing new it is definitely new for the fashion industry and it looks like it’s here to stay. While fashion certainly is a Fickle Fiona, experts agree this is no trend.

As for me, I think this is great! I sincerely believe we as a society should celebrate all stages of life and appreciate the beauty of all generations. I aspire to be a woman of style until the day I die. How about you?

(This article is from my guest post on The Stylist Handbook)