Ruth Marshall-Johnson on the future of fashion for women over 40

by Sylvia

A while ago I mentioned that I visited the Asia Fashion Summit. One of the people I was lucky enough to interview was Ruth Marshall Johnson, who is the senior editor Think Tank at trend forecaster WGSN.

One of the questions I asked her is, if brands are going to pay more attention to the 40Plus women’s fashion market? Find out what she replies in the video below!

At the end of the interview (not on video tape) Ruth says: “There is something to be said for a new behavioural movement with women. After feminism, post feminism, the fall-out from that whole movement, I think we are now in a position where women can be themselves more than anything. Their personality, their identity, their choices are as important as ever. I think that is massively important to the fashion industry.”

And so do I!

What do you think? Will designers start paying more attention to 40+ women?

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That was not easy to listen to. Lots of surrounding moices. Nevertheless I got what she was telling. The idea that you might order something, after you have said: “drop the hemline and alter the sleeves” is very feasable. It would not really be what I want though. As with all art/design you cannot alter it just like that. There is a huge risk that it will no longer look good. For example: I had a very simple long evening dress and made it into a dress of normal length. Never wore it since. The length made the dress. Besides I don’t want to order from the internet. i want to shop and try it on.
I don’t think designers are going to design for women over 40, apart from some custom made haute couture.


Yes apologies for that. Quality and sound are not great, which is why I kept the video short as I talked to her much longer than this… I too prefer my clothes ready to go and with only small alterations (if necessary) for the perfect fit.


The women over 40 in the US want to look stylish and sexy. A designer is a fool if they dont design for this market. Lets be honest these women have money and have the purchasing power to buy high end. The many difference in the design should really be the length of the dress and heels. A little space in the mid section. ALL women big or small want to look stylish, and sexy. Look how long it took designers to notice the PLUS SIZE market, lol.


Well said sistergirl! thanks for your first comment at 40PlusStyle!

Sophie Davis

I thought this a very interesting interview. With no preconceived idea of what was going to be said, I found myself feeling slightly depressed and a little frustrated by Ruth Marshall-Johnson’s responses. It seems that she did not fully understand the issues that you were raising with regard to dressing for the over 40’s and that you had to highlight many of the concerns and frustrations that we have. Yes, fashion is aimed at the youth, promotions use young, perfect models. Actually, look around – these young, perfect models do not represent the majority of the “real” world at all. If you are tall and thin you can carry most styles off. If you are not – and worse still, if you are over 40 – then you may as well not exist as far as most fashionistas are concerned!

As someone who is involved in the sales, I believe there are two distinct areas – one is selling the “lifestyle” to the customer, the other is being able to deliver what the customer actually wants. These are not necessarily the same thing. Designers are very good at the lifestyle side of things – glamorous locations, pretty girls who are photo-shopped to perfection and entice us to think “I want to be like that”. But the delivery side of things is not good – we don’t necessarily want to look exactly like the model, but we would like to come away with some of her confidence that we look great!

The designer who understands this and comes up with a workable, affordable, obtainable solution must surely be the designer who is going to make a fortune!


Very well formulated reply Sophie. I agree with you recommendation. We want to look as fabulous as the models, but we need slightly different clothes!

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