Over the past few weeks, the fashion press has been all over the new craze of Normcore.
New York magazine ran an article, defining the look as clothes that are so anonymous and mundane that a cool kid could easily be confused for a middle aged, middle-American tourists. The Normcore look is all about no-brand, ill-fitting jeans, a plain t-shirt and a sweater.
After a quick google, it’s pretty clear that most of what is being said is tongue in cheek, as Lauren Cochrane in the Guardian writes ‘only those truly in the know will get it – and even then they might confuse you with a tourist. What a sartorial lol that would be.’
But the New York forecasting group K-Hole, who originally coined the term way back in 2013, think there is more to this idea than meets the eye. They see Normcore as something that runs much deeper- as a shift in youth culture that is a response to a ‘mass indie culture’ of trying to be different- Normcore prioritises identifying with others.
We think there’s more to this idea than the ironic fashion press gives it credit for. It made us think back to the iPhone campaign last summer – the one where we see a huge array of different people taking pictures and listening to music on their phones (the most basic and ordinary things to do with a smart phone these days). Yet these tiny snapshots from everyday lives, are incredibly powerful and moving. And what it’s essentially saying is, you want this phone, because it’s the same one that everyone else has. Because it will help you build a connection with others, because it will help you be normal. It was a similar story with the ‘share a coke with friends’ campaign – which suggested that it’s desirable to have something in common with others, to share, to be normal.
It’s nothing new that people want to feel a connection with others and identify with a wider group – it’s what brands are all about after all. But the aspirational message we tend to project has traditionally been one of individualism, of taking a different path from the mass. But maybe we are witnessing the start of a shift here, a broader understanding of how we think and feel and a resulting change in what we want to be.