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Hypebubbies: Making The Case For The Senior Hypebeast

Photographer Darby Routtenberg dressed her Bubby and her best friends in glorious streetwear staples, posing questions on ageism and representation in fashion.
Reading time 4 minutes
Photography Darby Routtenberg

Why is it that when we’re asked to imagine our grandparents in their Sunday best, we can’t help but picture them wearing clothes from the 1950s? Why should it be so strange to imagine them in something a young hype beast would wear? 

That's what Darby Routtenberg asked herself while photographing Carol, her Bubby (the Yiddish term for grandmother) and her two best friends in the latest Supreme, Yeezy, Burberry, and Nike drops; why are seniors completely excluded from the latest trends? 

"A year ago I took photos of my Bubby in Raf Simons sneakers and a fur coat and everyone went crazy over it," says Routtenberg. "At first it was more of a joke, but she started telling her friends about it and then my grandfather framed the photo and was giving people copies. It turned out to be really serious, people loved it and she was so proud." 

So she took it to the next level, this time inviting her grandmother's friends and dressing them in looks suitable for the lineup outside the Bape store in Soho. "It was pouring rain the day we shot and I was afraid that they wouldn’t show up," she said. "But they did, my grandfather held an umbrella over their heads when they got out of their cars and escorted them inside, we treated them like real models, I even tied their shoes."

Adrian, 72, wears a Burberry bucket hat, a Burberry backpack and Adidas Yeezy 500 Super Moon Yellow

Carol, 72, wears all vintage Gucci and bootleg Nike X Gucci sneakers

At first hesitant, the three women soon began commenting on how comfortable they were and how good they felt. "They were looking at the clothes and they were like, 'what is this?' But as the day progressed, they loved it," said Routtenberg. "I literally felt bad taking the clothes back. I wanted them to keep it." 

If they felt so confident and happy in these kinds of clothes, it begs the question as to why we expect older women to stick to a certain kind of style and why so many of these streetwear and skate brands are almost exclusively marketed to young men. It also brings up the ever-present issue of diversity in the fashion industry. While models of color and varying sizes are included more than ever (although we still have a ways to go) the industry still has an ageism problem. Eckhaus Latta recently hired older models and so did Vetements, but the sight of an older model is still a rarity. 

Until then, youthful beauty is still the standard, excluding a huge part of the population and making older people, and especially women, feel as though they can't be perceived as stylish or beautiful, or as in this case, trendy. And for those who might argue that it's a question of comfort, think again—Adrian, who wore a pair of Adidas Yeezy 500 Super Moon Yellow in the shoot, said; “Where can I find these? I’ve never worn sneakers this comfortable and I feel cool.” 

Myriam, 70, wears a Kangol bucket hat, Louis Vuitton bag, Supreme top, and Supreme x Nike Air Streak Spectrum Plus

Adrian, Myriam and Carol, Hype Bubbies

"Why are grandmothers all wearing aprons and dressed like nuns," said Routtenberg. "It was an epiphany for me. You don’t see any senior women wearing this stuff in magazines or anywhere in streetwear. So for older women, who are totally ignored within this trend, to love the clothes this much is amazing." 

Their interest went beyond just comfort and style. At the end of the day, they began asking Routtenberg where she bought everything, allowing her to explain the sale and resale process behind streetwear. "They really got into the resale aspect and supply and demand," she said. "And they're the ones with the money."

So watch out Grailed, the Hype Bubbies are coming. 

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