What is normcore?
It’s time to stand out – by blending in
Who knew dressing down would reach trending hashtag status? The sort of basic, fuss-free style that’s reminiscent of college kids, divorced dads and ’90s sitcoms has now spiralled into this season’s most talked-about ‘anti- fashion’ fashion trend: Normcore. Defined by blandness – a well-worn sweatshirt, faded jeans, white sneakers, crew-neck tees – the style is certainly not new. Jerry Seinfeld showed us how to dress like the average Joe, Steve Jobs swore by his uniform of a black turtleneck, jeans and kicks, and Winona Ryder let her inner beauty do the talking in utterly nondescript clothes. And they all stayed below the fashion radar – until Phoebe Philo got under our skin.
Philo used Céline as a springboard to convince us to de-fluff, ever since her debut Resort 2010 collection. Other influential designers like Raf Simons, Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez kept things simple on the personal-style front, taking their bows at shows in brand-less clothing, while editors happily embraced this anonymous code to appear unaffected by fashion, leaving the ‘peacocking’ to street-style stars and bloggers. But bloggers, too, have hopped on the bandwagon, along with brands like Zara, COS and Gap – you’ll see a slew of navy pullovers, old-school track bottoms and New Balance sneakers off the fashion runways now.
Don’t confuse this norm-storm with minimalism, though: while minimalism stems from wanting to stand apart from the crowd in a stark, so-clean-it’s-hard-to- miss way, normcore is all about the girl/ boy next door, easily lost in a crowd. In a quiet way, it has seeped into our lifestyle. Nobody would’ve noticed if the New York- based, trend-forecasting agency K-Hole hadn’t given it a name and definition – “the most different thing to do is to reject being different altogether”. By letting your clothes blend into the background, you open yourself up to interaction with others – they won’t be able to form their impressions until they speak to you.
Irony dictated that what started as freedom from fashion, perhaps simply because there were more important things to do (hi, parent), would be claimed by fashion itself. The coolness of sameness may just be a passing phase for some, but has been a way of life for many others (who may not even know they’re being labelled). In the end, whatever your motivation, it’s time to stand out – by blending in.
Photographs: Imaxtree.com/Vincenzo Grillo (Street style)