Not fade away

The recent ad campaign for Levi's got it right - denim is not just for kids. Photographs by Jonathan Root. Styling by Sophia Neophitou
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The Independent Culture
The Contessa wears: denim short sleeved dress, pounds 25, from a selction at Dorothy Perkins branches nationwide (0171-291 2604); white turtle-neck jersey top by Ck Calvin Klein at Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge; tights by Jonathon Aston; beige court shoes, pounds 17, from Freeman Hardy & Willis branches nationwide (0171-404 4279).

Alan wears: denim shirt, pounds 49.99, and 501 jeans, pounds 53.99, by Levi, available from good jean stockists nationwide; lime and cream tank top, pounds 115, from a selection by Victor Victoria at Liberty, Regent Street, London W1 (0171- 734 1234)

By the year 2000, it is estimated that 50 per cent of the UK population will be aged over 50. But the problems of declining pensions are nothing compared to the problems of what to wear once you are over a certain age. Fashion designers cater to the young and nubile, using skinny models barely out of their teens. But, clothing manufacturers are increasingly acknowledging older customers. Levi's is one company that has recognised the fact that the over-45 market - especially among men - is an ever-growing one. Its most recent advertising campaign features eight American Mid-West veterans, ranging in age from 60 to 86. There is Julius, a 69-year-old cattle rancher from Colorado; Alonzo, 86, who still rides the rodeo; Josephine, a 79-year-old teacher; Lloyd, 79, a rancher, and Benny, Stirling and Rusty, aged from 60 to 71, all rodeo stars and ranchers. Nick Knight, the photographer who shot the campaign, enjoyed working with older models. As he said: "It questions popular wisdom that fashion and beauty is purely for the young." The ads were not aimed at The Oldie, however, and have run in all the usual places, from I-D to Arena. But the models in our pictures do not conjure up images of the Mid-West - they are much more relevant to life in Nineties Britain, where jeans are alive and kicking among the readers of the style press, as well as those who like to spend their retirement doing the gardening in a comfy pair of jeans. Jeans now transcend both age and class barriers. And jean ranges are a must for any designer - Chanel makes denim skirts and jeans, as does Christian Lacroi x, Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein and, of course, the Gap. Japanese jeans manufacturer Evisu has elevated its jeans to the status of designer garment with a white scrawl painted on the back-pocket, priced at more than pounds 200. A recent Mintel research report found that more than half of the men questioned aged between 45 and 54 had bought at least one pair of jeans in the past year. And while designers still invest their time and energy into the young and affluent, the number of 15 to 24-year-olds in the population - the traditional jeans target market - is on the decline. The models in our pictures are all over 60: the Contessa, as she is known, has her own cabaret act, while Alan is an actor and Alf is a proud grandparent. "I never thought I would like wearing jeans," he said, "but I do." They have all given their denim wear their own personal stamp, proving that jeans do not have to be boring. And that fashion is not just for the young and skinny. This page, from top Alf wears: denim jeans, pounds 34.99, by Wrangler, call 0115 965 5000 for stockist enquiries; grey towelling T-shirt, pounds 29, from a selection by Levi's; indigo denim jacket with printed logo, pounds 220, by Evisu available from, PIL, 61 Neal Street, London, WC2; chunky silver I-D bracelet, pounds 160, from a selection at Detail, 4a Symons Street, London SW3 (0171-730 8488)

White turtle-neck jersey top from a selection by CK Calvin Klein from Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW1; plaid print shirt, pounds 65, by Paul and Joe, from a selection at Whistles, 27 Sloane Square, London, SW1; denim skirt from a selection at the Chanel Boutique, 26 Old Bond Street, London W1; sheer classique tights, pounds 3.99, by Jonathon Aston, from department stores nationwide; court shoes, as before

Opposite

Denim shirt, pounds 29, by Liberty, as before; second-hand knitted tank top, from Dr Barnardo's; classic indigo denim jeans, pounds 30, from branches of The Gap nationwide (0171-518 6300)

Hair Esther Bihore using Nicky Clarke Hairomatherapy Products Make-up Esther Bihore using Mary Quant Cosmetics

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