When 66-year-old part-time model Ong Bee Yan first turned 50, she had trouble finding clothes that she liked, in particular ones that were “age-appropriate and still fashionable”.
“I didn’t want to wear clothes that my mother used to wear when she was 50 years old,” Ong, who goes by Yan, explains with a laugh. “When I visited shopping malls and boutiques, I felt that there were no clothes that I [could feel] comfortable in, either because of their prints, colour, design and style, or because they were just too pricey. I ended up wearing lots of t-shirts and bermudas.”
Fashion has made incremental progress in the past years when it comes to diversity, but there’s still a long way to go. Yan, having debuted three years ago, is a familiar face within the local model scene now, but she acknowledges that the industry has much to do, especially as one approaches their golden years.
“Senior women are often alienated from the fashion and beauty industry in their marketing and advertising campaigns, which makes them feel like outcasts. They feel excluded as a consumer when they walk into a shopping mall or browse through social media, because the images showcase young models using their products,” she notes. “If the modelling industry moves away from age-stereotyping, it will empower seniors and make them feel relevant, visible and a sense of belonging. It will show that the fashion and beauty industry cares.”
If the modelling industry moves away from age-stereotyping, it will empower seniors and make them feel relevant, visible and a sense of belonging.Ong Bee Yan
The grandmother of two thus decided to approach Jarenis Ho, owner of local fashion label Yacht21 (Y21), to collaborate on a fashion collection “that encourages women of all ages to embrace ageless dressing by expressing their personal beauty”.
“Fashion is increasingly inclusive and we want to dispel the notion that style has to be pigeonholed by age,” says Jarenis, of the idea behind the collection. “The same dress worn by a different woman will be expressed in a different manner of beauty. Our collaboration celebrates women’s unique identities and encourages them to embrace their individual narratives, whether they are in their twenties or sixties.”
With 16 pieces in the collection, each one is designed for effortless pairing with other clothing, which allows for endless mix-and-match possibilities. Every piece is designed with a minimalistic and contemporary touch, echoing Yan’s personal style and staying true to the idea of an ‘ageless capsule collection’. “Ageless fashion means clothes that are appealing and wearable by any woman of any age and size,” Yan explains. “[The clothes] are contemporary in style and do not go out of fashion.”
Here, she shares more about how her modelling career began, her personal style, as well as her favourite piece from the collection.