Normcore: Blending in is the new standing out

Fashion is a capricious and fickle creature; as soon as one look has taken hold, an insurgent splinter group shoots off in an opposing direction. The peacocking that goes on in the industry has been lampooned by veteran fashion journalist Susie Menkes, in a now notorious article, The Circus of Fashion. Menkes criticised the fashion pack for wearing outrageous looks that draw as much attention as possible. I’m a little uncomfortable with these animadversions, my natural tendency is flamboyant and brightly hued. I shun anything too functional and plain. As a consequence, fashion’s latest subculture is quite a challenge for me.

Normcore is a shift away from the bright and bold in favour of clothes that are purposefully nondescript. Dowdy colours, unbranded denim, utilitarian t-shirts and comfy sneakers are the new components of the the most fashion forward uniform – essentially dad clothes. This move towards lukewarm blandness is a subversion of fashion’s spectacle inducing frivolity. However, it’s also an acknowledgement that in desperately striving for originality, we render ourselves exactly the same as the next douche bag on the bus.  If Normcore values are to be believed, mass produced individuality has run its course and the time of prosaic simplicity is now. The unlikely style icons of Nomcore dressing are Steve Jobs and Jerry Seinfeld, whose intentionally muted, purely functional clothes are lorded by fashion insiders and hipsters alike. To dress in a slightly gawky, rather ugly way is supposedly the new chic.

My attempt at Normcore is less Steve Jobs and more Nigella Lawson on her way to court. I’m too much of an attention seeker to voluntarily blend into the crowd. I can see the benefit of an unostentatious palate cleanser, but I can’t help but feel that Normcore is rather pretentious. An invented ‘norm’ is not normal and boring clothes are simply dull and bland, no matter the postmodern re-brand. I think I’ll be sticking to my peacock feathers, ta very much.

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