Boomers to trump youth in fashion influence

Fri Sep 9, 2011 10:15am EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Amid fears the United States could slip back into recession, fashion designers should focus less on youth and create styles that tap the strong economic power of the baby-boom generation, industry experts say.

Instead of designing for young buyers and adjusting those styles to sell to older generations, experts say designers should put baby boomers first -- those born between 1946 and 1964, who now make up almost a quarter of the U.S. population.

There are already signs of such a shift, fashion insiders said.

"The whole youth culture is becoming a niche market," said David Wolfe, creative director of The Doneger Group, which forecasts fashion trends. "The boomers are regaining fashion economic control."

"(Designers) are just starting to wake up. It's such a difficult quantum leap for most companies who, since the 60s, have felt that the youth market is setting all the trends," he said. "Many of the trends that are being set are not applicable to an older person's lifestyle."

Almost 100 designers are showing their collections for spring/summer 2012 at New York Fashion Week, which started on Thursday, and dozens more are showing at other venues around the city to coincide with the semi-annual event.

On Thursday, designer Tadashi Shoji showed several evening dresses with sleeves -- something department stores and consumers have been craving because women of a certain age do not want to bare their arms, said Wolfe.

Gregg Andrews, a fashion director at department store Nordstrom, said recent fashion trends that were "bare and sexy" had left fashion-conscious baby boomers frustrated.   Continued...

<p>A woman carries shopping bags along a sidewalk in New York City, December 6, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>