As uninspired as that may sound at first, it’s actually an incredibly interesting sartorial answer to a society overcrowded with the outrageous and the forcedly bizarre.
We live in a society saturated with visual noise. People are forced to go to new lengths to grab the public’s attention: donning a meat dress (Lady Gaga), riding giant hotdogs (Miley Cyrus) and appropriating the culture of another nation (Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku harem). The obvious antidote to this is to go in the opposite direction – blend in to stand out in a manner of speaking.
Today, with the sheer variety and abundance of fast fashion on offer, the normcore look has an emphasis on basics. Think: a classic pair of blue jeans, a fresh polo shirt, and a pair of simple white runners. Note the adjectives used: classic, fresh, and simple. These are the terms missing in so much of fashion today.
A culture of try-hards has had the predictable consequence of making a simpler aesthetic seem that much more appealing. Normcore as a term exploded in February 2014 when New York Magazine featured an article on the subject. Debates sprang up; was this an actual trend or just an in-joke gone awry? Can something be considered a “trend” when it is trying to eschew the fashion world? These and other confusing questions on the subject are no longer relevant, as regardless of how legitimate or illegitimate it may have been in the beginning, normcore has now taken off to the extent where it can definitely be considered a subculture.
The past 100 years has seen countless subcultures stroll in and out of vogue; mods and rockers, goths and new romantics, punks and seapunks. All reflect the cultural context of their eras. For example, the emergence of the punk subculture in the mid 1970s was the result of subversive and revolutionary ideals popular at the time, brought about (among other things) by the politics of the Situationist International, whose writers explored theories such as Marx’s writings on alienation in the 1950s and ’60s. Punks in the U.K responded to a society which was still remarkably conservative with clothing that brought shock value.
I applaud anyone who can pull off the more-is-more look, but for the rest of us, normcore is a very chic alternative to so many other “trends”.
Walking through London in the ’70s with safety- pin covered clothing and ripped jeans, you made a statement. Today, for too many reasons that can be explored sufficiently in one little article, proclaiming one’s individuality through fashion is more problematic. Having studied and worked in fashion for several years, I can completely understand being overwhelmed by people’s attempts to stand out. At London Fashion Week, for instance, hordes of wannabe bloggers will attempt to pull together the craziest My Little Pony/ futuristic/ Western inspired outfit they can in an attempt to get into a show. The sight of their desperate, glittery faces is enough to send me running for my mom jeans and plain white t-shirt.
Fashion is a fickle art, but there’s something about the nonchalance of normcore that makes me think it’s one that might stick around for a while.
Words – Laura Hastings
Photography – Tarmo Tulit
Model – Shauna Lindsay