If you’re looking to be “in” right now, search no further than normcore, aka style for the unstylish. Or, better yet, an incredibly pretentious nod from the fashionable to the unfashionable.
The term normcore was coined by New York-based group K-Hole as part of a trend-forecasting report that doubled as a conceptual art piece called “Youth Mode: A Report on Freedom.” It described normcore as a commentary on what the group perceived to be a broader societal attitude adjustment. K-Hole ascertained that the next big thing is, paradoxically, to not be the next big thing.
Normcore glorifies mom jeans, plain fleece jackets, dorky New Balance shoes and monochromatic color schemes. It’s mall clothes — things without brand names or big-name designers behind them. Apparently ’90s fashion, which should have died for good at the turn of the millennium, is now the staple for young adults trying really hard to prove that they don’t need to look cool to be cool.
Normcore has always been an unidentified part of our culture, but prior to the glorification of being average, seemingly unaware normcore dressers were usually chastised for being totally fashion-inept and out of the loop. Now it’s all about pretending to be out of the loop that keeps you in it.
The ideology behind normcore really isn’t a bad one: Dress like everyone else and let your personality do the talking, rather than being a walking billboard for brands. The New York Times even wrote that it was a joke that became a movement. Yet, I find it hard to believe that normcorers aren’t just trying to make a pretentious statement that by rocking “normal” clothes they’ve somehow managed to become unquestionably more cool and self-aware.
If you have to go out and buy a pair of ill-fitting acid wash jeans and a mockneck, you’re not really making a statement about your individuality. You’re just buying in to what’s presently being marketed as cool.
What’s worse is trying to hide a fashion statement behind unfashionable clothes. If you want to make a statement, then make it, but don’t try to trick us into thinking you’re expressing your individuality when you’re just being trendy.
Despite the cries of individuality, simplicity and personality from those who adhere to normcore, it’s just a fad, one more highly regulated notion of what’s cool and what’s not. The issue with normcore isn’t the style itself, it’s the show you have to put on to pretend to be something you’re not. You shouldn’t have to feel pressured into purchasing what’s trendy in order to make a statement, or even just pretending not to be trendy to make that same statement.
There’s no individuality when everyone else is doing it, too.
For the real normcorers out there, those who wore nondescript outfits before an annoying tagline was used to define you, I applaud you for your utter lack of style and your resistance to the notion that we have to wear what is marketed to us in order to be cool. You’re the guys who wear fanny packs because they’re useful, not to make an underhanded statement that you’re hip even though you’re pretending not to be.
To the guys going out and picking up a new pair of white sneakers similar to the ones my grandfather rocks on a daily basis, please stop. We all know you’re faking it and soon enough, hopefully, such shoes will be retired to the farthest depths of your closet in favor of something a little more stylish.
Individuality doesn’t have to be derived from your clothes or a skewed perception about the latest trend, because it’s the attitude behind what you wear that truly makes you stand out.
— Mackenzie Brown is a pre-physiology freshman. Follow her @mac_brown01