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The relaxed charm of an octogenarian style


A guest at Milan Fashion Week in January wearing a red ribbed beanie and burgundy jacket over a brown cardigan and ripped denim © Lucia Sabatelli/Action Press

My grandfather Harry, an 83-year-old Northern English mechanic, would not describe himself as a fashionable man. Nevertheless, my early thirties style has been slowly morphing into his for some time now; last year I even bought us matching waxed cotton bucket hats. Harry’s sartorial staples include a dark green anorak with a corduroy collar, baggy trousers, and a short-sleeved shirt, usually worn with polished Derby shoes or chunky black trainers. It’s essentially the wardrobe of every trendy millennial living in Hackney.

“It’s everyday casual,” he says of the aesthetic he’s represented for 50 years, mostly bought from Marks and Spencer by my grandmother. “I’m comfortable. I don’t think I’m too old-fashioned. I’m more in the trend of the times.”

Bang up. It’s a fact that many of today’s youngsters tend towards clothes typically worn by middle-aged and older people. First there were “mom” jeans. Then came the daddy era, which began somewhat ironically around 2018 with the ugly sneaker, but has since morphed into a fashion category of its own. On TikTok, #grandpacore — a trend describing clobber synonymous with seniors, such as new v-neck knits, pleated pants, and tweed blazers — has been viewed nearly 16 million times.

“There is now a zeitgeist industry that exists around the aesthetic appeal of the casual, geriatric dresser, which New Balance or Birkenstock wears because it needs the orthopedic support,” says Lawrence Schlossman, co-founder of the New York menswear- podcast Throw fit.

@gramparents on Instagram has almost 250,000 followers. . . © @gramparents

An old man in a gray jacket, black shirt in a cafe, reading a newspaper

. . . documenting stylish older people. . . © @raphael_son

A man walks down the street in a brown coat and a walking stick

. . . from around the world © @raphael_son

Nick Wakeman, founder of London-based brand Studio Nicholson, is such a fan of retired fashion that she has a exhibition devoted to it. It runs until June 4 at her East London studio and is made in collaboration with Gramparents, an Instagram account by Kyle Kivijärvi that has nearly 250,000 followers and documents stylish older people around the world.

“I like watching old people go about their day,” says Wakeman, who often takes iPhone snaps of the stylish seniors she sees; their oversized fits define the silhouettes of her label. Wakeman is largely inspired by the style of grandparents in Japan, using washed-in twill and curved seams to more closely mimic the shapes. Chris Black, a New York-based fashion brand consultant and podcaster who works with labels like Thom Browne and J Crew, says pants for the elderly “fit similar to how a brand like The Row would wear pants today.” Such wider styles suit today’s desire for comfort.

A guest wears a white t-shirt, beige buttoned wool cardigan, black pants, black shiny leather lace-up shoes

Guests wore cardigans during the 2023 Paris fashion weeks. . . ©Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

A guest wears black sunglasses, white and baby blue striped shirt with print pattern, light yellow buttoned wool vest, black slacks, black shiny leather handbag, black and white two-tone shiny leather print pattern loafers

. . . and Milan. . . ©Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

A guest wears a navy blue denim hat, earrings with gold and white pearls, white T-shirt, dark green and white striped shirt with print pattern, navy blue nylon bomber jacket with embroidered white New York pattern, gold rings, beige large slacks, white and red with black glossy leather logo pattern Air Force One sneakers from Nike

. . . combined oversized jackets with pleated chinos in Paris . . . ©Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

A guest wears a white shirt, black blazer jacket, black wool long coat, gray slacks, black shiny leather loafers

. . . and wide trousers with moccasins in Copenhagen © Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Wakeman compares the hunger for senior style to a return to classics. It’s not quite normcore or the stealth richness of the television show Succession, nor the new sweater vests associated with grandpacore, but more of a shift to those hardworking wardrobe basics that are worn and faded. The ones that can be bought secondhand by millennials and Gen-Zers. “It’s harder to get the authentic older person look when clothes are brand new,” advises Wakeman. Those who want to emulate it, take note.

It’s also a bit of a celebration of real clothes. Black says the best senior garments he sees in New York are “Loro Piana-style overcoats, Belgian loafers, and crisp, blue Oxford shirts” — very different from the Birkenstock Bostons and puffer jackets that are now sartorial code for millennials. “These days, the little ones all wear jeans or tracksuits,” says Grandpa Harry, who wore jeans under his mechanic’s overalls and so would never wear them socially. Pants and shirts, he says, are “much smarter and more respectable.”

The appeal of the Gramparents Instagram account speaks to the broader, cultural reality that older people and some of the hobbies typically associated with them, such as gardening, have been trending since the pandemic. It was the first time that many young people in the West were asked to put their elders at the center. Online and often away from families, millennials and Gen Z connecting with seniors through cooking content. I learned how to make Grandpa Harry’s famous turkey pies and soup through handwritten recipes sent in the mail. A 2020 episode of The New York Times The daily podcast,”Soup is soup”, in which the presenter cooked on Zoom with her grandmother, was a funny lockdown hit. A New Grandma Cookbook, Yiayia (£27, Hardie Grant) by food writer Anastasia Miari, published last month, speaks to this joy.

It has had a ripple effect. Octogenarian content has become massive. Sam Youkilis, a fashion and film director based in London and New York, has generated nearly 500,000 followers on Instagram, thanks in part to his videos of older couples cuddling, holding hands and sharing ice cream. Zara Home recently unveiled a campaign shot by Jan Vrhovnik starring Italian nonnas making pasta. In menswear, Aime Leon Dore and Kith regularly feature older models in campaigns. In April, LL Bean teamed up with trendy Japanese label Beams for a collection modeled by eighties.

Jan Vrhovnik, a cinematographer from London who has shot for brands such as Balenciaga, Dunhill and The North Face x Gucci, has a movie last month starring his grandpa Edi83. Edi has been wearing the same faded blue shirt, gym shorts and embroidered cap for 30 years.

Vrhovnik, who captured Edi in Slovenia, thinks there’s “a realness of the elderly on camera that you don’t get from younger people”. Black compares the popularity of content for the elderly to the TikTok boom, where content is “slightly looser” than on Instagram’s curated, filtered feeds. And for brands, projecting the idea of ​​authenticity and legacy is powerful. “You get the feeling that the product is timeless and will last a lifetime,” says Kivijärvi.

Model in brown jacket

The row

Man wearing a blue shirt with khaki pants

Throwing Fits founder Lawrence Schlossman

In the doom and gloom of the news cycle, it’s comforting to see an old person with wrinkles symbolizing a life well lived. “In American society, we worship youth to the point of detriment,” says Black. “Showing the other side of that is valuable.” It’s a different kind of pursuit. Especially for a generation concerned about the climate, there is a stability in older generations – a beauty in the simple idea of ​​getting old – that brands capitalize on. “It’s like, look at this happy old man, wearing a hoodie,” says Throw fitSchlossman. “He’s with his wife and they’ve been married for 50 years. And they are in love! It is a completely different sale than before.”

Grandpa Harry would never wear a hoodie. But he might be won over by a Studio Nicholson navy worker’s jacket—a riff on the blue overalls he’s worn in his garage for nearly 70 years, and similar to one in my own wardrobe. The apple never falls far from the tree.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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