What is Normcore?

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Apparently originality just isn't original any more.

Throughout it's history the fashion world has always been complex. While I have a passing interest in it it would be wrong of me to act as if I know what is going on in that sphere of culture most of the time. All the same, I can't help but notice how each season brings the inevitable circuit of trends: from punky to pastels to navy to neutrals to florals back to pastels again and on and on and on. The mad couture fashion trends find their more mellow counterparts which are in turn copy-pasted as cheaper versions for high street stores. Random gimmicks break away to plaster every teenager within a thirty foot radius; older twenty-somethings do what they can to 'ironically' avoid the trend while embracing it's fundamentals; the thrity-somethings ponder over how high waisted and trim-legged jeans are supposed to be nowadays without looking cheap; and the rest of the spectrum fret about how far they can pull off new trends without looking too immature.

The newest trend seems to be an active attempt to separate itself from the attention-seeking fashion world, and it's called Normcore.

Behold! A new fashion trend coming near you.

"Everyone’s so unique that it’s not unique anymore. Especially in New York."
 Kristine Guico, a 26 year old 'Normcore' fashion designer explained,
"I tend to go for nostalgic things, and I feel like that’s kind of where normcore is... I was an only child. I was very into Limited 2 and Nike and basically I’m kind of still the same, fashion-wise.'

On October 19th the trend forecasting group K-Hole proposed a new trend that was developing which promoted functional comfortable fashion, focusing on blending in and sameness over individuality. Initially humorous, it now looks to have the potential to be a fully fledged trend.

'Once upon a time people were born into communities and had to find their individuality. Today people are born as individuals and have to find their communities.'

Normcore Fashion

Normcore is a somewhat natural progression from hipster fashion. Hipster fashion's aim was to be anti-fashion: to 'ironically' wear what their grandmothers and grandfather's wore. Thrift stores and charity shops were raided and the prices marked up to 'vintage' stores. People bought ill-fitting  jumpers  in bright 80s and 60s patterns which would have been painfully unfashionable mainly years ago. Girls poofed up their hair in beehives and men sculpted their facial hair into lumberjack-come-victoriana styles. The top buttons of shirts were done up - a fashion heresy before - but now a fashion statement. Through deliberately seeking out the ugly, the nostaligic or the out-dated, they mixed it with modern creativity to create something new and appealing. The results see-sawed between the ludicrous to the beautiful, but all had a rather fun statement behind them: a desire to play with what we know before.
Normcore seems to drag hipster fashion into the 90s and early noughties. I wince because I remember as an awkward early-teen wearing these abominations : the baseball caps, the double denim, the horrific tourist-fashion. While Normcore's aim is to be, well, 'normal', in doing so the fashion's wearers look maddeningly out of place - caught between fashion victims and walking figures of nostalgia.

And it's fun. It's a fond joke at the people who wear this unconciously because they have better things to worry about. It is non-fashion and yet it has all the posturing sentiment that the fashion world has.
However much normcore's goal is to 'blend in' and to be a non-movement, by being created slef-consciously, it is stand-out and a deliberate trend. Through it's popularity, like the hipster 'non-mainstream' approach, it undoes itself.  Normcore is, therefore,equal parts ludicrous and interesting as a concept, whether it's a niche joke that never rises above a meme, or whether it develops into something more real.

For my part, I always enjoy Street-fashion for it's creativity, and the concept of Normcore rather makes me squirm even if I kind of love its bravado. For example I have some books on two polar opposites of the street fashion world: FRUiTS [of Japan] and Advanced Style [of New York]. In urban fashion, where normal creative people are pulled off the street and photographed, you see so much of their souls shining through. There is genuine experience and joy there. 

For me, that is what fashion is. It's expressing yourself. 

 It may seem that Normcore is the antithesis of this but, in it's way, I accept that it's actually the same in many ways. It's a playful, humorous statement which reflects the wearer as much as its audience.

Still, I think I'll stick with my more eclectic preference in street fashion.
FRUiTS magazine is a Japanese magazine that covers the street fashion of the Harujuku district of Tokyo, and outlines where each person found their clothes and why they put them together into their creative themes.It is all about youth and bravado, to me, and playful creativity.  Advanced Style was a project by Ari Seth Cohen, where he took his camera to the streets of New York looking to chart the style and creativity of the city's older generation.
Advanced Style should, in many ways be at the opposite end of the spectrum of the typically youthful FRUiTS. But while there is dignity, experience and grace amongst Advanced Style's elders, there is also a playfulness and bravado equally as bonkers as their young Japanese counterparts. Both fashions lift your soul and remind you to live.

I, personally, think we still have the capacity to embrace the individual and find our communities. What do you think?

Check out the  'Fuck Yeah Fruits' Tumblr and 'Advanced Style' Blog for more examples.

Colleen (Advanced Style)

Sue Krietzman (Advanced Style)

Normcore quote - Kristine Guico, photo by Amy Lombard

Normcore on Pintrest
Know your meme: Normcore 
FRUiTS on Wikipedia
Buy the FRUiTS Book 1 and Book 2 Here
Buy the Advanced Style Book Here

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