Normal to the Core
High fashion's Style about nothing
Picture a street in New York City in the 1950’s. The war is over. Credit cards and transistor radios were just invented. Elvis is shaking his hips. Moods are high and there is finally money to spend. So, what are people wearing? Long puffy dresses with heaps of fabric. One-of-a-kind hats. Intricate patterns and cinched waists. Silks and cashmere. Suits and ties. Slacks and leather loafers. Accessories galore. More suits and ties.
Luxury fashion has been the same for centuries, a confident display of eye-catching fabrics, fits, finishes and colours. With influencers like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Chanel, pieces stand out and are noticed immediately. Haute Couture. The peacock of wealth, success and status.
Fast-forward to 2017. Those almighty fashion houses still stand strong, but the look of luxury has certainly taken a different course. In our present day, technology takes over in society. Simplicity reigns. Social capital is everything. Everyone is posting images of who wore what, and once again, people have money to burn. So, who are the most notable fashion influencers of the past few years? Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. Yes, these two along with Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg have put their simple sneakers, tapered denim, casual sportcoats and a function-over-fashion-thinking lifestyle on the luxury map. It is, without a doubt, their version of wealth, success and status that has altered what we are seeing today on runways and sidewalks alike.
Normcore has become hardcore. The term Normcore was first coined by K-Hole, a New York-based culture reporting agency, who suggested millennials seek out individualism by blending in versus the exhausting effort it takes to stand out. This is especially true in a market where fast fashion is available to everyone, creating the “there’s more going on over here than meets the eye” look, which has become wildly popular.
And big luxury brands are picking up what Larry and Jerry are, most accidentally, putting down. Japanese and European fashion houses are showcasing their take on this trend year after year. With an array of minimalist pieces and colours, oversized pockets, boxy and comfortable silhouettes, they have fully embraced the expression of Normcore. The desire for high-end basics is happening and the best part is, it will likely remain for some time.
So far in the marketplace, quality basics have proven to be in demand for high-end retailers around the globe. The confidence that already exists within individuals is what makes Normcore work so effortlessly. Harvard has conducted an interesting study revealing customer behaviors in luxury retail stores. They concluded that people shopping in tracksuits are perceived as more confident and likely to splurge than someone waltzing through the doors in fine fur. Dressing complicated people in simple attire seems to have positive effects for everyone.
And simply put, that is the appeal. Having confidence and looking good while dressing for comfort and ease is a luxury in itself. In a society that has slowly become less formal, it makes perfect sense. And now that luxury brands have presented hyper-comfort and understated basics, they’ve delivered a breath of fresh air among the traditional whirlwind of decadent details and fussy fabrics. Imagine instead: a crisp, white, cotton t-shirt under a camel colored wool coat, with a light denim pant, finished off with a seemingly-brandless white sneaker. The air already feels lighter. The quality of these simple pieces is what becomes most important and the fewer recognizable brands the better, which makes Normcore a super easy look to make your own.
I believe the true influencer of Normcore however, is yet to be fully defined. Perhaps it was author William Gibson who, in his sci-fi novel, Pattern Recognition, illustrates the look of his protagonist as such. After all, the streets of Paris have forever exhibited confidently minimal black and white pieces. White sneakers are a staple for New Yorkers, home to our unlikely fashion icons, Larry and Jerry. So, even though undefined, it’s in thanks to a variety of like-minded thinkers and designers that the luxury fashion world has accepted these timeless basics and filled our wardrobes with quiet confidence.
Who’s the high-fashion Normcore hero of the moment? Emily Segal from K-Hole believes it’s the the schleppy-looking fashion designers taking a bow at the end of their fashion show. And she’s definitely on to something there.