13 March 2014

The Opposite of Anti-Hip?

Did anyone catch the article from a couple of weeks ago about this anti-fashion thing called "normcore"? (It's totally okay if you haven't heard about it, as it doesn't seem to have made it beyond the fashion and style blogs, yet. That means that six months from now, when it's already on the verge of being played out, the New York Times Style section will do a big, splashy piece on it.)

Essentially, normcore (the word originated with a group of artists who operate a "trend forecasting group") means embracing ordinariness but in a supposedly cool way, which in fashion terms means instead of dressing in of-the-moment, high-fashion stuff, choosing to dress in plain, blah, ordinary clothing. Think relaxed-fit jeans in lighter washes, pullover fleeces, those certain style of New Balance sneakers favored by tech guys.

The claim being made by people in fashion is that this normcore thing is not being done ironically, but I'm calling bullshit on that. Hipsters love it, obviously, because being a hipster is all about co-opting something that isn't trendy and thereby making it secretly trendy to a select group. But when being hip and insider means you're now wearing dad jeans and mock turtlenecks, isn't that the point where the serpent has begun to eat its own tail?

And now Esquire's style blog is trying to tell me that dressing this way is okay, but you have to get the details right? That's painfully contradictory. People who are anti-fashion fundamentally don't care about the details, which is why they dress the way they do. People who are worrying about whether the brand of fleece they are wearing is uncool enough are simply trying too hard, and that is no different from a guy who's wearing double-monk strap shoes with one buckle on each shoe left undone on purpose, or ties his tie with the back blade longer than the front.

I'm not going to criticize anyone who wants to dress this way (though I certainly wouldn't), but don't try to tell us it isn't trendy. The fact that it has cachet with, and is being talked about by, stylists and fashion insiders is the clearest indication that this is a trend, just like jeggings or multiple bracelets or too-short sport jackets.

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