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IG of the Week: @gramparents menton

These senior citizens are definitely cooler than you

Do not @ us

Spotted on the streets of Manhattan: Kangol bucket hats, New Balance sweatshirts, classic berets, vintage Louis Vuitton weekender bags, Burberry scarves, and sleek walking sticks. Founded by New York-based creative Kyle Kivijärv, the aptly named @gramparents catalogues the best dressed senior citizens from the city (and beyond).  

Having found himself posting numerous pictures of well-dressed geriatric members of the public on his personal IG account, Kivijärvi decided to create @gramparents in the summer of 2016. The NYC cityscape has always been a one-stop destination for witnessing some of the finest street style moments, and some spots in particular, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have become popular destinations for fashionable seniors. “Many people featured seem to love the opening night of a new show at the Met, and they get all dressed up for it! I used to work in a retirement home for a while and got to spend lots of time with the elderly folks there. I feel very comfortable hanging out and talking to them, and very much enjoy their company.”

For Kivijärvi, spotting subjects in NYC is a 50/50 experience of keeping a watchful eye out for sharply dressed individuals, and chance encounters. However, @gramparents has now opened to submissions from a wider audience base: “People love to be part of it and send in photos of random older passersby or even pictures of their own grandparents. I love seeing them come in from all over the world.” 

The international appeal of the page is best attributed to Kivijärvi’s candid approach to capturing his subjects on camera: “I love the natural posture and energy of someone that is just going about their day – when someone knows you’re photographing them, it creates a funny unnatural moment and they don’t know what to do, or how to sit or stand. I usually end up taking multiple photos of one person, sometimes following them for the shot until I have it. I have asked a few people though.” 

While all the people featured on @gramparents are uniquely attired, there are certain brands that feature prominently on the page, whether in vintage or contemporary iterations. Popular ones include Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Clark’s, Rockport, Mephisto, New Balance, Converse, adidas Originals, and Reebok Classics. All offer a blend of comfort, pragmatism, and a timeless aesthetic, which leaves the idea of ‘trends’ amongst senior consumers as an afterthought.

“Trends usually fade and are constantly changing,” Kivijärvi comments. “Most of these elderly people have no time for trends and have been around long enough to know what works and serves a purpose. Unlike younger generations that seek out a certain piece or item that is trending, the elderly usually stick to the script and, if you ask them, it’s not really something they think about. They are enjoying the birds whistling in the trees, or a crossword puzzle in today’s paper, or the company of friends for a card game in the park.” 

Often combining vintage accessories such as flat caps, suspenders, and shawls, trusted closet gems such as camel trench coats and quilted Barbour jackets, and the practical ease of New Balances and Nikes, the seniors of @gramparents seemingly subvert the stereotypes of geriatric fashion, often without intention. 

For Kivijärvi, as well as demonstrating that there is no upper age limit to street style, the project goes further than simply documenting fashionable ‘grandparents’ across the globe: “I hope that it’s giving my audience a chance to think a bit more about these people and recognize them as part of the world we live in, and not forget about them. We can learn a lot from them, they have a lot of amazing stories to tell. @gramparents definitely focuses on the looks and the fashion of these wonderful people, but more importantly, I think its intent is to help us remember that we can still enjoy the simple things in life and do so for a very long time.”