The outrage and confusion caused through the coining of the term “Normcore” is enough to keep anyone scrolling through article after blog after tweet, bashing, depicting, and celebrating the K-Hole-acknowledged lifestyle since summer 2013. Labelled a fad, and particularly a pretentious way of dressing (as with all new trends), The Guardian and The Independent journalists/readers are still squinting through their Oliver People’s horn rims to identify who is wearing faded blue jeans and sandals as a statement, or as someone who just put down the gardening sheers.
There is always a universal effort to uncover and decode movements that happen within visual culture. When something as instinctual as the start of an impending trend starts to radiate from several individuals, then to a whole like-minded quadrant of society, there always has to be a public explanation with a condescending tag attached to the change. The realm of fashion within culture is understood as a realm of pretence, explained by outsiders as a beacon of materialism and predictability. The urge for journalists to explain seemingly pointless trends to the masses is too good to pass up; acting as an English Lit graduate cum neo-Gulliver, here to explain what “those pesky kids” are up to yet again.
Since the arrival of the staple “Normcore”, which seemed to hit the public like a meteor circa late nineties apocalypse movies, it seems the trend happened overnight. Suddenly, white socks and blue jeans are all the more noticeable, not to mention what we will be in for next London Fashion Week. New Balance and Eastpak have been commonplace on feet and backs of the ensembly-concious for years now, with The North Face and any infamous sportswear brand adding to “the look”. Once the ~normcore~ label came to the surface of the media, it automatically transformed what was once an intuitive fashion choice into something that could be bought and sold. I’ve yet to see a “Get the Normcore look!” used in any advertising material, although I’m sure a quick Google search would rectify the situation. The concept of normality is one that all humans struggle with, yet we created this prison ourselves when we aspired to live existences ruled by semi-detached suburban homes, Land Rovers and other generic middle-class signifiers. Branding is a sizable chunk of this, the logos on the front of teenager’s polo shirts and the suits worn to impress potential clients in this world of repeat-offending blandism. Not that mediocrity is all lacklustre, in fact it is largely liberating. While the idea of standing-out and being a separate spectacle is entrancing and aspirational, there comes a different form of security from fitting into the cut-out that was probably expected from you since birth. From playing role-playing games like The Sims, the youth of the twenty-teens recalls back to a pixellated time of white picket fences and creating personas that slide into society in such a way.
As creatives, we grow up somewhat segregated from athletic and perhaps more bookish of the academic types, although it becomes more socially acceptable for us to choose if we will become more extreme in our “alternative” approach. There are an untold amount of extroverts who paint a garish path for themselves; edging towards a Meadham Kirchhoff or early Westwood approach of appearance, a type prominent in London, where the peacocks from the outer colonies seem to flock to. However fantastical and escapist clothes from these designers are, they somehow do not reflect the time we live in as wholly as street wear. They remove the viewer from the grey-hued realness of society, but youth is demanding slightly more than that. What is known as *normcore* is a statement and pastiche of all things basic, with the desire to be separate not as attractive as it once was. We have grown up with the desire to be accepted, almost as important to post-modern humans as the idea of becoming famous. The wearing of mom jeans and GAP sweaters allows complete freedom of mind from any form of torment, the ability to become invisible moving slowly closer. Now that the wearing of said items has been branded as a #Look, said freedom is now in jeopardy: are people trying to be #Normcore? Of course, it’s now been appropriated by everyone who aspires to differentiate themselves, by becoming norm before all others catch up.
This way of dress expresses contentment with our existences. Cultural appropriation has swallowed trends whole, the aisles of Primark now littered with Littlemix/Rita Ora’s slant on “gangster” clothing. Dystopian films have always portrayed images of the future as a clinical, and very samey environment where clothes are worn almost like permanent uniforms. Perhaps blue Carhartt jeans have replaced zip-up one-pieces (lest we forget the onezie), but the graphic blandness that was predicted is now coming to pass. The secret that was to dress normal now doesn’t create the same Zen-like symbiosis with the planet it once did. The idea of blending in will always be appealing in certain factors of anyone’s life, and I believe Nø®mço®e origins really evoked a significant point in time that illustrates how frustrating it can be conscious of appearance, particularly when ourselves have their own version and ways of perceiving via an online community.