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With 10.6 million Instagram followers, senior social media influencers have a following equivalent to 3.2% of the population of the U.S., or roughly the same as the state of North Carolina.
Though they may not be as lucrative as some of the other big-hitters in the industry, elderly influencers have seen a significant rise in popularity on Instagram in the last year, with the top 10 seeing a 24% increase in followers since September 2017.
Influencers in the booming fashion market are the best represented among the top 10, with only actor George Takei and comedian Lili Hayes breaking the mold. Female influencers prove to be more predominant, occupying the vast majority of the list, while males represent just two spots. Below is our list of the top elderly influencers dominating Instagram in descending order of followers.
Far and away the most popular influencer on our list is Helen Winkle. Since 2013 she has skyrocketed to her current following of 3.5 million. Winkle’s tagline, ‘Stealing your man since 1928’, is front and center of a brand which has brought incredible success to her over the last few years. With sponsors ranging from Smirnoff, to clothes retailer Missguided, to investing app Stash, Winkle is a valuable commodity for marketers.
At 99 years old, Apfel is the most senior influencer on our list, but having just topped a million and a half followers, she’s showing no signs of letting up. In addition to her long career as an interior designer, Apfel is a published author and has collaborated with Vogue and Christie’s, among others, as well as glassware company, Nude Glass, and window covering business, Hunter Douglas.
Takei is best known for portraying Sulu in the original Star Trek series back in the ‘60s. More recently, he has built up a mass following on Instagram, where he typically posts humorous and political content for his fanbase of more than one million. Takei has published a book based on his experiences with social media and continues to be one of the most popular elderly influencers.
Professor Lyn Slater has built up a substantial following of over three-quarters of a million followers since she started her fashion blog back in 2014. With a focus on writing about lesser known talents in the industry, her social media presence has seen significant growth, with her support more than doubling in the last year alone. Her success has garnered her sponsorship deals with French fashion house Maison Margiela, Perricone MD, and Oribe.
Comedian Lili Hayes is only the second non-fashion influencer to make it to our top 10. Masterminded by her son, Kevin, Hayes’s Instagram sees her engage in comedic skits, music videos, and original content to amuse her legions of fans. In three years Lili increased her Instagram following by half a million followers. In 2019 she started posting content on TikTok, where she now entertains an audience of 4.3 million followers!
Ari Seth Cohen created the multimedia project Advanced Style with the intention of ‘capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set’ and features almost exclusively senior models. In addition to publishing a book and producing a movie on senior fashion, Cohen has amassed a sizable following for her brand on Instagram.
With her miniature poodle in tow, lifelong model Linda Rodin has become one of the best known figures in the senior fashion social media scene. In addition to formerly being an editor of Harper’s Bazaar, Rodin created beauty brand Olio Lusso, which she sold to Estee Lauder in 2014, and is currently launching a dog accessory brand.
Jewelry designer Sarah Jane Adams has the goal of increasing diversity within the fashion industry, using her signature hashtag, #mywrinklesaremystripes as the core of her message. Adams has attracted a plethora of sponsors, including River Island, 7 For All Mankind, Marimekko, and even IBM.
The only senior influencer on our list not from the Anglosphere, Taiwanese social media star Moon Lin is nearing the 100k follower mark and showing no signs of slowing down at 93 years old. Mostly noted for her streetwear style, Lin’s following has grown dramatically since 2017, adding 40k fans—don’t be surprised to see her further up list in the future.
Propping up our list is another streetwear influencer. London fruit vendor Lance Walsh earned his fashion reputation by accident after being snapped wearing Supreme head to toe by a passing photographer. He has since built up a large fan base from all over the world for his love of all things Supreme. Well and truly on the rise, Walsh has tripled his support since last year.