Fashion has long valued youth above all, but there are strong signs that the tide is turning as more and more over-50s demand to see themselves represented and the modelling industry increasingly begins to champion diversity, in magazine publications, in TV adverts and on billboards.
“The international consumer market is changing rapidly“, explains Rebecca Valentine, founder of Grey Model Agency. “Successful businesses must adapt and refocus their marketing and branding to appeal to both a sophisticated media-savvy youth market and to a powerful older 50+ demographic. Power and influence have shifted to the consumer. Now brands, marketing advisors and creative agencies must adhere to their demands to be more inclusive, represent diversity; creating forward-thinking campaigns that outshine their competitors“.
Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Preen, Celine and Saint Laurent are just some examples of designer labels which have recently included older women in their campaigns or on the runway.
If you’ve always dreamt of being a model, now is the best time to take your chance.
The changing face of the modeling industry
The modeling industry has come a long way from its early days. In the past, models were typically very young and thin, and the pressure to maintain that ideal body type was immense. However, in recent years, the industry has started to shift towards a more inclusive approach. There is now a growing demand for models of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds. This has created a new market for senior models, who are now in greater demand than ever before.
The rise of silver foxes is a reflection of the changing attitudes towards ageing and beauty. In the past, ageing was seen as something to be feared and avoided at all costs. However, today, many people view it as a beautiful process that should be celebrated. This shift in mindset has opened up new opportunities for senior models to showcase their unique beauty and style.
The fashion industry has also realized that the market for senior models is significant. According to a report by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Americans over 50 years old control over 70% of the country’s wealth. This means that there is a lot of buying power in this demographic, and brands are starting to take notice. As a result, senior models are now being used to sell everything from luxury beauty products to high-end fashion.
What do you need to launch a modeling career in your 50s?
“The key to success for older models is simple. With their life experience, the over-50s-generation embodies values like sympathy, trust and authenticity. Their positive attitude inspires the fashion scene“, explains experts at The Models Agency in Berlin.
But, as in any other field, there are certain criteria you need to be aware of. The truth is that modeling for older women is a very tough business and if you want to pursue a career in fashion, you have to look after yourself regardless of your age.
Expect to be rejected for most of the jobs you go for and expect to work hard with early morning starts and late night finishes.
Here’s a list of things you need to know about becoming a model in your 50s.
Modeling as a mature woman: here’s how to start
Personality, self-confidence, and versatility are the most important traits required from brands these days for mature models. If you feel a bit rusty, there are actually modelling schools out there that can help you learn to hone your skills, but remember there is no age limit to getting started as a model.
“Be prepared to make sacrifices, travelling thousands of miles a year alone, sleeping in hotels, carrying heavy bags, doing your own hair and make-up, smiling when you’re exhausted. Have positive energy and be reliable, likeable, and keen – all while looking great. It’s worth it.”, says Julie Lowery, a mature model from Sheffield who has been featured in campaigns for Wella Hair, Harley Davidson Apparel, Boots No, and Oil of Olay, to The Yorkshire Post.
Resilience, in the end, is still the best quality for women over 50 who are looking for opportunities to modeling.
Invest in a great portfolio
Start putting a portfolio together by getting professional shots done and create a comp card giving potential clients a first impression of your modelling skills.
It is important to have a large variety of images in different outfits and situations to present your personal charisma to potential clients. Your portfolio should contain up to 20 photos and include information such as your measurements and contact information.
When you get started in the modelling industry, you should be aware that you won’t be on big international screens right from the start.
Don’t fret; if your shootings are initially only for smaller campaigns or ads, they will help you become more established in the industry, confident in front of the camera and able to manage the stress of never-ending castings.
Modelling is an incredibly competitive industry and it’s difficult to get noticed. Learning how to build a strong reputation and presence on social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok or Instagram may help as they represent a great opportunity for self-promotion, just like the comp card.
You can even make money on Instagram if you get enough followers as brands sometimes use social media to pay ‘influencers’ to advertise their products.
But be careful, there are lots of dubious operators online. Avoid accepting requests or even sending your pictures when asked as it is often impossible to know who is behind the request. Always check the accounts carefully or reject them.
New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London and Milan are the hubs of the fashion industry and many of the top modelling agencies have offices in these locations. Becoming a model at any age is probably easier in metropolitan areas than in a small town. If being a model is on your bucket list, then it may be time to consider a move.
Best modeling agencies for older models
The most important thing you can do is to find a reputable agency to guide you, push you to clients and help you grow a career.
Usually, many of them have a formal submission policy and the application process consists in an online form you have to fill out. You will be asked for information about your age, measurements and dress/shoe size and to attach several photos of yourself. If interested, they will invite you to an in-person casting call.
But don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear from them. They typically receive submissions all the time, and their needs are constantly changing. Submit yourself to them again in six months.
If you are based in the UK you can also look at the British Fashion Model Agents Association, the Trade Association of the UK model industry. Formerly the Association of Model Agents, it was founded in 1974 to protect and manage the careers of its models. This continues to be the aim of the Association.
In the US, Silver Model Management is another great modelling agency that specializes in senior models. The agency was founded in 2012 and has quickly become one of the top agencies for seniors. Silver has worked with brands like Harley-Davidson, Target, and Tommy Bahama.
Another interesting model agency that caught our attention is Golden Age Models. Based in Stockholm, covering Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway, it’s a counterweight to the increasing ageism in society. “By gathering mature models together, we make the beauty and potential of life experience visible“, explains the founder Shama Persson. “Our goal is to be the natural choice for mature models and to be role models for a non-ageist society“.
If you’re based in Asia, then Icon Model Management is the right agency for you. A Singapore-based modelling agency that represents mature models, it was founded in 2016 and since then has worked with brands like L’Oreal and Uniqlo.
Finally, remember that modeling is a business. You should be prepared to negotiate contracts, understand your rights and responsibilities, and be aware of industry standards and practices. Good luck!