Ageing Youth: Redesigning fashion with a new demographic

Ania Sadkowska, Katherine Townsend, Juliana Sissons, Karen Harrigan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


In 2014 the authors were approached by a group of mature women from Nottingham eager to discuss their fashion needs in the light of the commercial industry’s current offer. The women had three things in common: they were all baby boomers; were interested in fashion and clothing and were frustrated by the lack of well fitting, stylish garments for their demographic, leading them to form their own independent fashion network. Aged between 55-75, the women felt pressured to wear generic silhouettes based on best sellers designed for today’s youth market and to quietly fade into the background (Twigg 2013). As feminists and the generation who arguably defined ‘youth culture’ (Gilleard and Higgs 2005) by experimenting with avant garde music and fashion, the women still value personal expression and agency beyond the limitations of standardized garment design. This paper discusses a collaborative research project between 45 fashionable women and three academic/ practitioners who are developing an experience-centred approach to fashion and ageing. The interdisciplinary methodology integrates an interpretative phenomenological approach (IPA) with artistic practice (Sadkowska 2015) and is based on the concept of co-designing (Sanders and Stappers 2012). Drawing on data based on accounts of the women’s experiences of fashion, the inclusive design approach synthesizes the psychological and physiological needs of a new generation of ‘ageing youth’ by considering emotional durability and sustainable designing strategies. The resulting fashion artefacts (Thornquist 2015) seek an ‘emotional fit’ by analysing the experiential knowledge and aesthetic desires of the women. The resulting expressive silhouettes are based on a new shaping matrix based on zero waste, geometric cutting integrated with engineered prints that empathetically contour the form.

Keywords: Ageing fashion, network, agency, IPA, zero waste, fashion artefact

Bibliography Chapman, J. (2015). Emotionally Durable Design, 2nd ed, New York: Routlege. Gilleard, C. and Higgs, P. (2005). Contexts of Ageing. Class, Cohort and Community, Malden: Polity. Manzini, E. (2015). Design, When Everybody Designs: An introduction to Design for Social Innovation, London: The MIT Press. Rissanen and McQuillan (2015). Zero Waste Fashion Design, London: Bloomsbury.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
EventThe End of Fashion conference and exhibition - COLLEGE OF CREATIVE ARTS, MASSEY UNIVERSITY, WELLINGTON, NZ, Wellington, New Zealand
Duration: 8 Dec 20169 Dec 2016


ConferenceThe End of Fashion conference and exhibition
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
Internet address

Bibliographical note

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  • Ageing fashion
  • fashion artefact
  • zero waste
  • IPA
  • agency
  • network


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