There is a trend so edgy it is unedgy. It is downright dull and the height of fashion, and it goes by a name that is perfectly suited for it: normcore. Everyone knows that hipsters made it fashionable to embrace the uncool, but the normcore folk are going even further: they are embracing the normal. Normcore is “a lot of cliché style taboos” but incredibly without “the irony.” No irony? What sorcery is this? The fashion world really seems to have gone off the deep end this time.
Actually, the term normcore has already been around for a couple of years and was described by K-HOLE four entire months ago, but a recent NY Magazine article has caused a galvanization of the trend.
What is normcore? It is described as anti-fashion. It is a style of clothes that are functional, comfortable, and neat. Normcore is a self-aware, stylized blandness that one might associate with middle-aged American tourists: nondescript half-zip fleece pullovers, stonewash jeans, Birkenstocks, and khakis. It is a conspicuously unpretentious and flat look. Think Jerry Seinfeld’s clothes on a Cooper Union student sporting William Gibson specs. According to Fiona Duncan, who wrote the NY Magazine article in part responsible for normcore’s resurgence, K-HOLE says the trend is a theory more than any one aesthetic. Further, it is not about either giving in to or rebelling against the status quo. Instead, normcore style allows the wearer to let go of a need to look distinctive. Duncan says all that may be so, but that in practice the styles of normcore all have a clear precedent in the 1990s. The NY Times Magazine writer noted that she became aware of the change last summer, when she realized that she could no longer tell from behind if her fellow Soho pedestrians were middle-aged, middle American tourists or downtown art kids.
Fashion writer and freelance stylist Jeremy Lewis explains. He says that normcore is a part of a growing anti-fashion sentiment. He is the founder and editor of Garmento magazine as well as an adherent of normcore. One designer featured in his magazine described Lewis’ personal style as “exhaustingly plain.” For his own part, Lewis contends that his “look of nothing” is a statement against fashion’s predilection to mark its devotees as mindless sheep.
Lewis goes on to say that normcore is a reprieve from stylistic hegemony. Predictably, there are at the moment many screeds proclaiming it as a “stupid hipster trend.” Lewis, however, seems undeterred by the wrath of colleagues and critics. He disdains that fashion is currently being used as a shortcut to identity. (As a side note, this statement seems to imply that he believes that this shortcut was not in use as much or at all before now). Lewis says that instead of discovering and expressing one’s identity by, among other things, the clothes one wears, one now simply purchases an identity. That is all well and good, but Lewis’ next statement may have gone to far. Uttering a statement people not involved in the world of fashion have known since, well, forever, Lewis may have committed what amounts to fashion heresy. Incredibly, unbelievably, Lewis stated the following: “I like the idea that one doesn’t need their clothes to make a statement.”
Opinion By Donna Westlund
The Daily Dot