It's fashion's latest buzziest word. Casually dropped into conversation when describing Prada's SS14 sandals-and-sock combo, or Miu Miu's AW14 nylon rain jackets. Hashtagged below images of New Balance trainers on Instagram. Or used to sum up the streetstyle snaps from the SXSW music festival.
Normcore is the word that is on the tips of everyone's fingers and lips. Coined in February by the New York trend agency K-Hole, they described it as 'the moving away from a coolness that relies on difference to a post-authenticity coolness that opts in to sameness. But instead of appropriating an aestheticized version of the mainstream, it just cops to the situation at hand.'
It quickly started being applied to the latest fashion pieces – black Birkenstocks, grey t-shirts from COS and plain unbranded sweatshirts from The Gap. But according to K-Hole this is incorrect. It was never meant to refer to clothing. Instead it was meant to sum up the shift that we're seeing towards conformity. Posting an explanation on their Facebook page written by journalist Christopher Glazek, they state 'It doesn't really make sense to identify Normcore as a fashion trend--the point of normcore is that you could dress like a NASCAR mascot for a big race and then switch to raver-wear for a long druggy night at the club. It's about infinitely flexible, sunny appropriation.'
So, essentially Normcore should be used to sum up a certain attitude whilst we instead should all be using another K-Hole coined term - 'Acting Basic' - to describe fashion's current trends. So those Mom jeans you're rocking – that's 'Acting Basic', not in fact 'Normcore'. But just to confuse things, if you dress like 'Acting Basic' without questioning it then you are pretty 'Normcore' right now. As K-Hole state in their report: 'Normcore knows your consumer choices aren’t irrelevant, they’re just temporary. Normcore seeks the freedom that comes with non-exclusivity. It finds liberation in being nothing special.'
Three fashion pieces that are totally Acting Basic in a Normcore way right now
1. Nike tick socks – pair with a pair of Birkenstocks for an ultimate man repeller moment
2. Mom jeans – look for a high waist, tapered leg and a rolled up hem. If you look in the mirror and think 'you're turning into your mother' you've nailed it.
3. A plain t-shirt – unadorned and logo-free, it's the Acting Basic version of a little black dress.
By Chloe Mac Donnell