About seven months ago Eileen Fisher’s people told me their “branding” agency was focused on a new direction for the company when I proposed that the chain hold a nationwide search for the country’s most stylish, accomplished women over fifty. “Good idea,” one of Fisher’s gatekeepers told me, “but not for us.”
Not for them? I thought. Have you hired a branding agency located on Mars? Women over fifty made Eileen Fisher what she is today. Women over fifty earn more, spend more, are more active, dynamic and vibrant they ever before. I should know. I’m one of them. We’re embracing our age and turning it into a positive, like we do most everything else.
Women over 50 spend over $25 billion a year on clothes and over $30 million a day on personal care products. Almost one-third of all women in the United States today are 50 or over and this number is rising every year. Women over fifty have more discretionary income than any other demographic group. Over 65 percent of the women 45 to 64 work full time.
That’s when I had an epiphany:
I will create a website myself celebrating women of style and substance over fifty. Then I set out to work, calling the country’s top fashion shops and salons to see if they liked my idea and to ask for their help finding the women. They embraced the idea, and in January we’re launching faboverfifty.com. More on that later.
I was flabbergasted when I read in this weekend’s New York Times SundayStyles that Eileen Fisher is now determined to attract a “younger, cooler customer who has no fear of leggings, a defined waistline or wedge heels.” Seems 58-year-old Eileen was “sad” last year because nobody knew her clothes had become “hipper,” the article reported. So now the company is using younger women in its ads to attract a younger, hipper audience. “Gone, for the moment, are the silver-haired models smiling serenely into the distance,” the article noted.
Despite the size and affluence of this “silver-haired” group, many fashion and cosmetic companies continue to chase the younger market. They don’t think it’s cool to pursue women over fifty. They’d all be wise to put their thinking caps back on and figure out how to capture our attention–not to mention our discretionary income.
Eileen Fisher, that includes you. Send your branding agency back into outer space. Older women can and do wear hip clothes. They’ve been buying them for years in fabulous shops all over the United States, shops from Mario’s in Seattle to Tootsie’s in Houston, from Joan Shepp in Philadelphia to Joseph in Memphis, from Maria Pinto in Chicago to Jamie in Nashville.
When you see faboverfifty.com, you’ll know just what I mean.