China’s modeling landscape is expanding its view. following the rise of the plus-size model, the nation’s post-50s are the old(er) fresh meat (老鲜肉 in Chinese) hitting urban catwalks. no longer merely on the prowl for tradition, These cats like treating themselves. They buy luxury items and use digital ways of purchasing them. plus modeling them.
Plus-sizers to Post-50s. Chinese model scouts are rapidly broadening their skill set arsenal which now includes the silver foxes of a greying population.
One in three Chinese people in China, or 487 million people, by 2050 will be over the age of 60, according to Xinhua State News Agency. Combined with burgeoning incomes and living standards, these numbers forecast a bust in consumption by China’s elderly people in decades to come. And who better to (re)present the product than its buyer?
Older models posing in youthful urban brands repping new lifestyles. A moodboard which goes down well in a culture with a strong tradition of respect towards their elders — i.e. the concept of filial piety (孝 in Chinese). The market for senior models in China may not be lusty just yet, but the lust for the Silver Fox is on the rise.
Silver linings, anyone?
china’s changing modeling scene
Starting off with that Plus factor. With the average population globally (and willingly) opting to expand its girth, the rush for plus-size fashion is breathtaking — and yes, we purposely opt to use this word in combination with “obesity”. With this maturing market, comes the demand for bigger models. As far as the China diaries go,
Guangzhou City has become the center of the plus-size modeling industry due to this southern coastal region’s flourishing garment export sector and its status as a hub for online women’s fashion retailers.
In China, plus-size modeling is a relatively new business that only surfaced around 2010. Now, the city of Guangzhou has become the center of the plus-size modeling industry due to the southern coastal region’s flourishing garment export sector and its status as a hub for online women’s fashion retailers. Plus-size models can make over 10,000 yuan (US$1,470) per month, twice the average monthly salary in the city, according to Xinhua State News Agency.
A new face for an expanding market. So how about that greying population and its desire to represent?
silver foxes and fashion fetishes
Moving on to the Post factor. Once expected to selflessly stay home and mind the grandchildren, seniors — women, in particular — have become a coveted market for products such as clothing, fashion accessories, cosmetics and travel, according to consumer research firm Mintel.
A sense of sophistication can show in the facial expressions of seniors. Handsome youngsters, even those boasting a well-trained physique, cannot necessarily convey maturity.
Just take into consideration Wang Deshun. The legend of China’s Hottest Grandfather began one March evening in 2015 during Fashion Week in Beijing. Wang, who is 83 now, stood backstage as minions coiffed his corona of white hair and tenderized his hairless chest with baby oil. “Pecs pulsating to a techno beat of their own,” as GQ so delectably put it. He was fitted with padded cotton pants, The designer who persuaded him to sway down that runway? Dutch-Chinese Hu Sheguang,
Wang performed a pantomime to open the show, a scene in which he battled the high winds. Later on, he escorted the female models onto the catwalk for their curtain call. No other male models had the honor bestowed onto them. It was just Wang.
The man single-handedly, and six-packedly so, prompted a revolution.
senior(ita), we are looking for you
“The market for senior models in China is not huge yet, but it is growing,” Ms Michelle Chien, a modeling agent with ESEE Model Management, one of Shanghai’s largest agencies, told the South China Morning Post.
This development echoes a trend now well established in Western markets, where brands have been keen to tap into the pockets of the semi-flush baby-boomer generation.
Catwalks globally have in the past five years witness a greater diversity in terms of age. Models such as Jacky O’Shaughnessy, Jan de Villeneuve, and Elon Musk’s mother, Maye Musk, are making names for themselves as fashion stars in their 60s and 70s. Lest we forget about established names such as China Machado and Carmen Dell’Orefice still waging the supermodel stakes.
Aging populations are now a phenomenon across both developed and emerging markets and the trend is only accelerating. “Investors should consider capitalizing on the opportunities arising from this unprecedented global demographic shift,” the South China Morning Post concludes.
Buying and modeling opportunities alike.
The time has now come for China’s post-50s to take up the modeling torch, a task they are executing with style and swagger. Chinese Millennials, take note! There’s a new lean, mean modeling machine in town. And they call themselves the Silver Foxes.
Featured Image: China’s Coolest Grandmother aka Huang Yanzhen. Photography by Jesse Ding, 2016. All rights reserved
View more of Jesse Ding;s work on IG: @xyjesse
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