Fashion and the Ageing Body

On Tuesday 27th October, I have went to an event about Fashion and the Ageing Body. It is organised by Southampton Solent University and worked together with BCS Hampshire Branch, BCSWomen. The event is supported by Age Concern and during the event, we have looked at health problems people will have when they get older and also understand how we can reconsider fashion to provide opportunities for the expanding grey market in fashion, make-up, hair and in beauty and also possible changes in the fashion industry.

Ageing population:

  • Over 23.2 million people in the UK are over 50 years old that’s over a third of our population.
  • 11.4 million people over 65 years old
  • By 2035 over 65s will account for 25% if the total population
  • Fastest growing group are the over 85s
  • In 2010 over 85s accounted for 2% of the population (1.4 million)
  • By 2035 over 85s will account for 5% of the total population (3.5 million)

There is also data about people in the UK live over 100 years old in 2014;

  • 14,450 over 100 years olds
  • 780 over 105 year olds

There are some factors which lead to the rise in the proportion of elderly in our population:

  • Better diet
  • Emphasis on exercise
  • Improved housing
  • Safer jobs
  • Advances and improvement in health care

Aging and capability

Physical Changes with Age:

  • Decline in stature
  • Body weight changes
  • The range of motion of the joints reduces
  • Strength declines with age

The prevalence of disability rises with age:

  • 1 in 20 children
  • 1 in 5 working age adults
  • 1 in 2 over 65s

Sight Loss

Around 2 million people in the UK are living with sight loss and it affects people of all ages (especially older people).

  • 1 in 5 over 75
  • 1 in 2 aged 90 and over

are living with some form of sight loss.

  • By 2050, numbers could be 4 million.

During the talk, we have tried out several glasses and different glasses have got different vision which represents the sight problems some people suffers in real lives. After I have tried out those glasses, I can experienced how people feel when they have sight loss problems when they get older and most of them have blurry visions which I think is hard to see what’s in front of us and it makes the eyes very tiring as well.

Hearing loss 

More than 10 million people in the UK have some form of hearing loss.

  • More than 70% of over 70s
  • Over 40% of over 50s

are affected.

  • By 2032 there may be 24.5 million people with hearing loss.

Manual Dexterity

Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis affect manual dexterity as well as mobility.

Nearly 8.75 million people in the UK have sought treatment for osteoarthritis, that’s about a 30% of over 45s and about 40 to 50% of over 75s

  • 1 in 6 of all these people have osteoarthritis in the hands and wrists. That’s around 1.56 million people (6% of over 45s)


At least 56% of all disabled people have an impairment related to mobility.

  • 2% of the UK population use wheelchairs
  • Around two thirds of these Users are over 60 years old.


  • Figures suggest that 1 in 3 of us will suffer some form of dementia.

Business Case

Pounds (£)

  • Households with a disabled person have a combined income of  £212 billion.


  • Total spending by households headed by someone aged 65+ is around £145 billion
  • Grey pound accounts for £320 billion a year
  • Over 50s account for 76% of the nations financial wealth.

In the UK, we will have increasing numbers of over 65’s interacting with the products and interiors the design community produce. They have the disposable income to pay for these products and we have a responsibility to provide inclusive design.

Sensory and Kinaesthetic 

Interactive Simulations (SKIns)

  • Loughborough University has developed a series of SKins
  • Osteoarthritis Suit in partnership with Napp Pharmaceuticals

On below, we have two models who take challenges of dressing and undressing and styling with the Ageing suits on and experienced the difficulty that the elderly faced when dressed up with an ageing body.

After they have dressed up, they talked about the difficulties they have got when having the ageing body suits on while dressing up and they both said their body feels really heavy and is hard to balance as well. Also because the body feels heavy, they found tiring when they dressed up and also they spend more time to dress up with an ageing body suits as well.

We have also looked at a video about elderly peoples who also get into fashion and the way how they are passionate about fashion. They enjoy the way they dress and it is a way to make them feel happy as well. In the video, they also said fashion is a way where they can express their ideas and creativity which I really agree with and also you have the freedom to dress up what you want.

After that, we have tried out a pair of gloves which can experienced essential tremor ( an uncontrollable shake and tremble on part of the body). We have tried to write, pick up a coffee, apply lipstick on the lips, etc, but it is so difficult as you can’t control your hands because they tremble and shaking.

During the event, someone has shared his experience on a short film he has done before and they had an elderly actor in the film. While they were doing the shooting, because an elderly’s movements will not be as fast as young people, they spend more time on the shooting and this is where we need to concern about the timing of the films when working with different ages of people and also planning for the shoot.


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