You Should Be Reading: Fashion Gets ‘Normal’

New Normal composite

This week’s You Should Be Reading marks a slight departure for the column, as Worn Through turns to a contemporary trend in fashion. The three articles, all chosen from online newspaper and magazine sources rather than academic journals, examine the trend of ‘normal’ dressing, or ‘normcore.’ First identified by trend forecaster K-Hole and now seen everywhere from international fashion weeks to the Gap’s ‘Dress Normal’ campaign, normcore is no longer just a hipster trend for adopting 90s era denim, Patagonia fleece and baseball caps. The following articles provide background on the trend of ‘normal’ dressing and attempt to identify its sources and explain the cause of its sudden appearance.

1. Cartner-Morley, Jess. ‘The Death of the Show-off: How London Fashion Week Embraced the New Normal.’ The Guardian. 16 September 2014.

While fashion weeks used to be ‘riots of excess’, The Guardian’s Jess Cartner-Morley observed a distinct change in not only the fashion on display, but the overall mood of this fall’s London Fashion Week. Gone were the ‘peacocks’ of seasons past stomping down the runways in six-inch heels, replaced by relatively modest looks in flat sandals and sneakers. Buzzwords surrounding the collections and their designers’ inspirations included ‘easy,’ ‘fresh’ and ‘effortless.’ This new understatement is interpreted as a reaction to the over-exposure of many of today’s fashion icons through the internet and social media platforms. Concluding that the changes observed were refreshing, Cartney-Morley still can’t help but feel that something was missing from the catwalks this season, suggesting the ‘peacocks’ of fashion may return before long.

2. Duncan, Fiona. ‘Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion.’ New York Magazine. 26 February 2014.

Fiona Duncan describes the growth of normcore as a trend that began slowly on the Instagram and Tumblr accounts of internet ‘It-kids’ as they ’embraced sameness deliberately as a new way of being cool.’ However, the adoption of normcore styles can also be seen as an expression of anti-fashion sentiment. Duncan spoke to Jeremy Lewis, founder of Garmento and freelance stylist/writer, who stated that his normcore style represents an anti-fashion philosophy that ‘is about absolving oneself from fashion,’ taking clothing cues from Steve Jobs and Jerry Seinfeld. The author also points to the ubiquity of fashion on the internet, observing that ‘the cycles of fashion are so fast and so vast, it’s impossible to stay current; in fact, there is no one current.’ Normcore is ultimately explained as not being about fashion, but about ‘welcoming the possibility of being recognizable, of looking like other people—and “seeing that as an opportunity for connection, instead of as evidence that your identity has dissolved.”

3. Stoppard, Lou. ‘Just Do It! How Sportswear Innovation Has Created Fashion Staples.’ i-D. 29 October 2014.

Lou Stoppard, editor at SHOWstudio, explores the influence of sportswear on fashion in this article for i-D magazine. As sportswear brands are often the early adopters of fashion tech, designers are looking to Nike, Adidas and others for innovation and inspiration. Designer collaborations are now commonplace in sportswear, pioneered by Adidas and Stella McCartney and seen more recently by British sportswear brand Sweaty Betty and Richard Nicholl at London Fashion Week. Stoppard concludes that the origins of the ‘normcore’ trend may lie in fashion’s current fascination with sportswear and its dedication to function and performance, allowing women to move and live in their clothing.

Image Credit: The Guardian

What did you think of this week’s column? Would you like to see more suggested readings from outside the academic sphere? Please let us know in the comments below.

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1 Comment

  • Dominika December 01, 2014 11.33 am

    Thanks a lot for sharing these articles. I’ve just thought that the normcore phenomenon could be a good case study to answer the question “is it the end of fashion”?


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