Chico’s is on a mission to prove older women can still be fashionable.
“Brands that are truly customer-centric are focused on how to best represent their customer base within their marketing,” said Kimberly Grabel, senior vice president of marketing at Chico’s FAS, which includes the White House Black Market and Soma brands, in addition to the nameplate brand, in the greater company portfolio. “We always aim to showcase a diverse group of women throughout our campaigns, so the customer can envision herself in each of our brands. For us, it’s not solely about age, it’s about attitude. When casting, we ensure our models illustrate a unique sense of style and a joyous attitude.”
For now, that works out to about 95 percent of Chico’s models over the age of 40 and all of its influencers 40 or older. Influencers include restaurateur and chef Caroline Styne, artist Cora Roth, New York Times best-selling author Annaka Harris, film and television producer Debra Martin Chase and Eighties Sports Illustrated cover girl Paulina Porizkova.
“Our customers are powerful, inspiring and accomplished grown women and we seek to mirror these traits in the women we choose to represent the Chico’s brand,” Grabel said. “Our campaigns will continue to reflect a diverse group of women who showcase the brand’s inclusivity.”
So far the messaging seems to be working with consumers. Despite greater declines amid the pandemic, digital apparel sales at the Chico’s brand increased double digits last quarter, year-over-year.
Chico’s is among a handful of brands, including Knix and ThirdLove, that have used slightly older models to sell products in recent years.
Joanna Griffiths, founder and chief executive officer of intimates and swimwear brand Knix, launched a campaign for women over the age of 50 during International Women’s Day earlier this year.
“Society as a whole has pretended that women over a certain age don’t exist,” Griffiths said. “We wanted to celebrate women of all ages and really honor the fact that we’re beautiful at any age.”