Should models be older? Ageism protest causes a stir at London Fashion Week

Lauren Sharkey
<i>Five women took to London Fashion Week to protest ageism in the fashion industry [Photo: PA]</i>
Five women took to London Fashion Week to protest ageism in the fashion industry [Photo: PA]

It wasn’t just animal rights that were being fought for this morning at London Fashion Week. The rights of older women also caused a major talking point after five over-45s arrived carrying signs.

Organised by retailer JD Williams, the small group of five women (including former Page Three model Jilly Johnson) told the fashion industry to ‘grow up’ while reminding everyone that ‘fashion has no age limit.’

The protest brought up some worrying facts surrounding the fashion world. The average age of a catwalk model is now 17 with older models coming few and far between.

<i>Ex-Page Three model Jilly Johnson took part [Photo: PA]</i>
Ex-Page Three model Jilly Johnson took part [Photo: PA]

“Women don’t suddenly stop wearing or buying clothes after their twenties so why isn’t this reflected in the models used in fashion shows?” 63-year-old Johnson commented. “We’ve started to be more inclusive when it comes to ethnicities and disabilities on the runway – which is fantastic – but why not all ages?”

As well as fighting discrimination, the group aimed to challenge why a model’s workload decreases as they get older. Suzi Burns, PR Manager for JD Williams, spoke of the “generation of older women who feel ignored by the high street and underrepresented in TV and magazines.”

“As a retailer and an advertiser, we believe we owe our customers the honesty of showing them realistic but aspirational images of themselves,” she finished.

As always, fashion still has a long way to go when it comes to complete diversity. Hopefully, designers, casting directors and modelling agencies will begin to listen to the incessant protests and open up their books to a wider range of faces.

Live from London Fashion Week AW17: All the catwalk and FROW action

The diversity trend: When will fashion become truly inclusive?