Model of the moment at Seoul Fashion Week (14–19 October)? Not some willowy teenager but 75-year-old former care worker Choi Soon-Hwa (pictured). Along with 72-year-old “Instagranny” Park Mak-rye, who has 400,000+ YouTube fans, and 65-year-old male model Kim Chil-doo (“Senior? It’s just a label,” he told Reuters), a cohort of baby boomers is shaking up South Korea’s 43 trillion won ($37 billion) fashion industry. Digital Seoul Culture Arts University has even launched a “silver industry model” major, while the city’s modelling schools report a rise in sign-ups from seniors.
Home to the world’s fastest ageing population – 40 per cent of the country will be aged 65+ by 2060 – and half of this age group living in poverty according to an OECD study, no wonder older South Koreans want to seek out a glamorous, dignified means of supporting themselves. In fact, greater inclusivity is starting to enter fashion campaigns worldwide; just look at Rihanna choosing 67-year-old JoAni Johnson to front her new fashion line, Fenty. Silver is the new black.