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Sunday, 23 March 2014

The evolution of normcore

The normcore debate has been a fantastic demonstration of the complexities involved in fashion's  turbulent attitude. Like a spoilt child, the industry changes it's mind quickly and decidedly - but when it's decisions are so fascinating, there's no chance that any of us are going to disagree or look away. The patterns and movement of trend continue to baffle some people whilst others endlessly ride their own wave of style - yet occasionally, an aesthetic comes about that splits fashion's loyal followers into two very distinct camps. 

Coined by New York trend forecasting agency K-Hole, normcore is the label used for those with a desire to be "sartorially blank". Comprising mostly of simple and neutral casual wear, the look seems to have originated from downtown NYC - and has been popularly described as "what your Dad wore in the nineties"(think beige chinos, tucked in t-shirts and laced up trainers), or how a 'normal' character would be styled in a present-day film or sitcom. The position tries to emulate the look of someone who doesn't care about fashion - but what's difficult about normcore is that only 'fashion people' are participating in the dialogue - as well as the trend itself.

image via daily Seinfeld

With this in mind, I'm not completely sure what the two very distinct fashion camps actually are. Is one either for normcore or against it? And would that mean that if you prescribe to the trend, you're sartorially aware, despite making a stand to oppose such a fashion position? Unlike most logical discussions, a conversation or investigation into the topic of normcore probably won't help you understand it. But what is worth noting is the recognisable movement - particularly within the fashion blogger network - towards a much more simple aesthetic.

If, as quoted by Sean Monahan when interviewed about the 'craze' on Huff Post Live, normcore really is about being "sartorially blank", then the appeal seems paradoxical. It's suggested in the interview that K-Hole understands the concept of being individual as something not to be celebrated. Yet those who are embracing the normcore movement seem to be hugely celebrated for doing so - both in terms of stylish individuals and brands alike.

 From top left to bottom right: Acne Studios, Acne Studios, The Row, Damir Doma, Studio NicholsonMatthew Miller
Images via the instagram feed of blogger India Rose

Even the frivolities of the most recent batch of fashion weeks failed to shake off the desire of many to be plain. An international array of brands dominated the runways with incredibly simple, neutral, and often layered looks: long coats, straight trousers and regular, flat work shoes or trainers received more of the 'cool press' than the elaborate and colorfully varied looks seen elsewhere - as did the stylish show guests who were aware of the movement. Somehow, the decision to be reserved and modest - to be a little bit too desperately normal - made all of the bouncing dresses and glittering high heels look kinda outdated. Of course, the point is that these plain looks were not boring. Immaculately tailored with highly considered use of material and movement; ambitiously measured in volume and length; defiant lines, original silhouettes.. this new aesthetic was just that: new. And isn't that just what our spoilt child fashion so consistently craves?

Recognising trend is not as much of an art as starting one. Yet it will always be interesting to pick up on the adopted habits of the wide-reaching fashion community - whether it's easy to understand or not. Being normal - to the core - apparently just got interesting. But those who have always just been normal and don't really get it just got a little bit more dull.