When Juliette Branker was 25, she sent her photograph to countless modeling agencies, hoping she had what it takes to make it big in the fashion world. But she was turned down.
“They said I didn’t have the look that they wanted, so I gave up thoughts of it,” Branker said.
But now, at age 55, she has exactly what modeling agencies are looking for – age.
“I wouldn’t want to buy certain products for myself that I would use if I see a 20-something selling it, because it’s for a 20-something-year-old,” Branker said. “I can relate to someone my age selling a product. It’s just more genuine. That person is using it, so it’s right for me.”
Older models are on the rise, as businesses realize the buying power of older customers. Boomer women spend almost $47 billion a year on fashion, according to NPD Group, a market research firm in Port Washington, N.Y.
“This market is not disappearing. It’s not hiding, it’s not going anywhere,” said Gina Barone, co-director of Select Division at Wilhelmina Models. “And if anything, it’s going to increase.”
Big names like Wilhelmina are cashing in on this booming demographic. Wilhelmina kicked off The Wilhelmina 30+ Model Search on April 10, 2012 in which the winner will be awarded a contract with the agency and a photo shoot with O, The Oprah Magazine and prizes from Macy’s and Miraclesuit.
At 61 years old, model Cindy Joseph says older models are changing more than just ads.
“I’ve had 40-year-old women come up to me and say, ‘You know, you really made turning 40 easier for me,’” she said.
“Boomers have been reinventing their lives since their 20s. We have never accepted the status quo,” Joseph said. “I think going into our golden years as they call them, we are not interested in rolling over and sitting on the porch and rocking ourselves away.”