Women’s Wear Daily
04.20.2014
fashion-features
fashion-features

The Indulgent Boomers: Generation to Propel Apparel Again in 2005

While apparel and footwear spending in the U.S. appears to be decelerating, Baby Boomers aren't likely to slow their consumption in the new year.

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Quant, with her miniskirts, sleeveless dresses and tight, skinny ribbed sweaters, has been described as the “Beatles of the fashion industry.”

“As the Beatles revolutionized music…they became the most popular group in history; Mary Quant fashions became the most popular among Boomer women,” Green said. “With the relaxing of social conventions, women wanted clothes to be flexible. Fashion became a signifier of your social attitudes and reflected revolutionary thinking.”

But don’t be fooled into thinking Boomers want to be on the cutting edge of fashion trends. In fact, Boomers — predominantly women — are content to be merely “in style” and will find a way to make sure that happens, even if it means buying fewer clothes should disposable income come under pressure, said Green.

For the time being, though, Boomers, many of whom are now entering the “empty nest” phase, have more disposable income than they’ve ever had, said Green. That’s partly because many Boomers are nearing the peak of their earnings potential and have paid off their mortgages.

Also, Boomers are beginning to experience a transference of wealth from inheritances. Several economists estimate that between now and 2050, $20 trillion to $30 trillion will change hands. Assets will transfer from the parents of Boomers to the Boomers, and then to the children of Boomers over the next five decades.

A third-quarter Luxury Institute report found that, by 2010, the spending power of older Baby Boomers, who will be ages 55 to 64 at that time, will roughly double to $750 billion from $455 billion, according to data from the Conference Board. And by 2013, citing statistics from Lincoln Financial, the report said “the number of millionaires will triple as a result of inheritances.”

Another trend expected to impact Boomer expenditures is later retirements. Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of the New York-based Luxury Institute, noted that many Boomers plan to work beyond the age of 65, which makes their spending today less affected by what they won’t have tomorrow.

“This trend of continuing to work beyond traditional retirement age has powerful implications for luxury marketers, not to mention its potentially positive impact on the solvency of Social Security and Medicare,” Pedraza said in a recent report.
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