‘More style for the over 50s’ is design brief given to fashion students

Derbyshire Fashion House, David Nieper has launched their 2016 fashion scholarship with The University of Derby to design a fashion collection to dress the older woman, a market often neglected by the fashion industry.

Second year BA (Hons) fashion design students at the University, have been challenged to design a sample collection of four garments for the over 50s female; one each for nightwear, eveningwear, daywear and travel wear as part of their mandatory portfolio project.

Following feedback from a focus group held with David Nieper’s target market group, including ladies in their 50s, 60s and 70s, students designers have certainly got a challenge ahead. This is a very discerning, fashion conscious market that love to dress-up and won’t compromise on quality.

The over 50s female accounts for over forty-per cent of the UK fashion market*, spending in the region of £7 billion on fashion and accessories every year. Yet, this is a group that in general feels over-looked by the fashion industry.

As such, David Nieper has tasked some of the region’s best young design talent to address the specific requirements of over 50s fashion and create ‘a collection of garments for the older woman, who wants to be individual and stylish.’

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When asked about their pet hates when it comes to buying clothes, the majority of the focus group mentioned sleeve lengths, seams and skimping on fabric as problems areas with high-street fashion. Poor design and lack of imagination were also associated with styles for the more mature woman, which were described as frumpy and boring.

Mrs C. Shanks (50) from Alfreton in Derbyshire commented:

“Even though I am in my 50’s I don’t feel in my 50’s – and the older you get it seems that we are ‘steered’ more to what we should be wearing, as opposed to what we would like to wear. When I go to shop for this style of clothing it appears to be either geared to the younger generation with skinny jeans and crop tops or bland, poorly cut and frumpy clothing designed for the ‘more mature’ woman. I would like to buy good quality, affordable, stylish casual outfits.

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Freya Whittaker, one of the Second Year Fashion Design Students from the University of Derby taking part in the competition commented:

“I had a great day at David Nieper and really enjoyed seeing all aspects of the company. The brief for our project has been really interesting, as we needed to think about tailoring clothes for real women with different body shapes rather than models.

In my research I focused on the garments that David Nieper already produced and used them to influence my designs. By re-interpreting current designs to fit the 70s era that I looked at, I was able to design appropriately but creatively for the customer. I really enjoyed looking at fashion over the decades and how it has changed. I am hoping to be a designer when I finish Uni, and this work will be great in my portfolio.”

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of David Nieper said:


“This is our 5th year of sponsoring the scholarship with The University of Derby and we have always been very impressed with the level of imagination, originality and commercial understanding from the students.

The brief is a challenging one, they have been asked to consider colour palette, fabric choice, silhouette and cutting designs to fit different body shapes. Students also need to demonstrate technical understanding and the ability to produce designs that can be manufactured easily and cost effectively.

We wish them all the very best of luck rising to the challenge, and look forward to presenting the award in June.”

David Nieper has been designing and manufacturing ‘Made in Britain’ fashion since the business was formed in 1961 and caters exclusively for over fifty women. Every season their collection is responsive to the changing needs of older women, with a commitment to exceptional cut and fit while reflecting the latest trends.