Normcore is deceptively complex. What does this trend of “blending in” say about fashion and society as a whole?
Normcore, the inclination to dress “normally”, is the most complicated trend ever known: full of unexpected, mind-shattering contradictions. Here are some issues that are associated with Normcore:
- If you follow this trend, set by people who aren’t interested in fashion, are you interested in and following fashion, or uninterested and not following?
- How exactly is one to know that someone else is making a fashion statement by dressing normally? It is impossible to make a meaningful statement with Normcore, rendering it useless as a “look”?
- Is Normcore a fashion trend or a mindset?
I’ve been pondering over half a dozen more, but in the interest of brevity, I have left them out. I won’t attempt to answer these questions here: I’ll leave some links below so you can assess the situation and decide for yourselves (if you haven’t done so already).
What’s more interesting, for me, are the inferences we can make about society and attitudes towards fashion from this alleged “new” trend.
Some of the names that are stated as being icons for this new trend include Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Jobs. There are three things that stand out about these names. The first observation is they are all male. This may be a trend which is aimed at mainly males (and if so, males tend not to take as many fashion risks anyway, so maybe this “normcore” isn’t actually a “thing”).
Secondly, all of these males haven’t seemed to have changed their choice in type of article-of-clothing since the 90’s, only the fit has changed. Is Normcore really an extension of the 90’s revival of the past few years?
Thirdly, and most importantly, all the named people are successful, and fashion is an important way of non-verbally communicating with others. Is Normcore an indication that male ideals of success have changed in our society? In the past, males have copied styles from footballers, ladies men and bankers to appear as successful to others. Now they are imitating the styles of intelligent and funny men, instead of sportsmen, misogynists and corporate a-holes: Certainly a welcomed change.
However, this trend could have originated at another end of society. Keeping up with fashion, a pursuit once only achievable by the wealthy, has now spread to the hoi polloi. Average people are now able to keep up with fashion trends at a speed comparable to the rate at which the moneyed can, because of cheap, mass-produced clothes from high street chains, in designs that are quickly copied from the catwalk. Because of this development in industry, is fashion seen as a hobby of the poor now: Something snobs don’t want to be associated with?
It is also possible that your average person’s attitude towards fashion has changed. Looking normal is synonymous with not standing out. After recent privacy breaches covered in the media, is Normcore another sign that people are reassessing the importance of their ability to be anonymous? Or maybe, people, who keep busy for appearances, are taking some of the stress out of their overflowing modern lives by ditching all the shopping and dressing up. Or perhaps people are ditching the frivolous accessories in response to the economy: It’s bad etiquette to be seen as “wasting” money in a downturn.
Normcore could also signify a new beginning in fashion. The original trend-setters have had all of their individual style hijacked to the point that they don’t feel like they can participate in “fashion” anymore. Maybe they are now attempting to white-wash themselves and start again (watch the opening sketch to Portlandia, Season 1, Episode 3 for a hilarious and poignant example of this).
Normcore could be a sign of an exciting new era in fashion and values, or it could be absolutely nothing at all: just a neologism that fashionistas thought was cool.
http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/02/normcore-fashion-trend.html (original article)