Ten years ago, on a sunny day in April on the University of British Columbia campus, I turned to my friend Grant and said "from now on, I am only wearing blank t-shirts and clothes without logos." It was one of my many proclamations from my well-meaning but misguided activist days. Proclamations like "I'm vegetarian now!" and "I'm going to wear a lot of bandannas for a while."
While most of my ding-dong ideas from university didn't stick, the boring clothes one did. I bought a whole stack of bulk American Apparel t-shirts from a wholesaler I knew and, on a trip to New York, a bunch of monochromatic $5 Uniqlo t's. I bought shirts that fit, along with khakis and jeans, and then I just rocked them until they frayed and ripped and stained and I really couldn't wear them anymore. It was cheap and cheerful, but it worked.
For many years, I have wandered (mostly) happily and obliviously through life, as trends came and went. Sides of heads were shaved, jeans were thinned, apes were bathed, and I was just Josh. Weird on the inside, bland on the outside. Just the way I liked it.
Now my girlfriend tells me that I am part of a trend. In the past week or so, the word Normcore has emerged. An active decision to wear fleece, khakis, and plain t-shirts. Crocs and sandals. Vests and mom jeans.
According to Esquire's Andrew D. Luecke:
(Normcore is) a riposte to the styles that came before it. In this case, normcore is flipping the bird to hipsters, with their entrenched slim, dark denim infatuation and rocker affectations. Normcore instead draws on hipster kryptonite, like technical outdoor gear, prep school hippy Birkenstocks, and substitute teacher-style denim, to achieve a subversive look detectable only to those in the know.
Or, as described in "The Cut":
Jeremy Lewis, the founder/editor of Garmento and a freelance stylist and fashion writer, calls normcore "one facet of a growing anti-fashion sentiment." His personal style is (in the words of Andre Walker, a designer Lewis featured in the magazine's last issue) "exhaustingly plain"--this winter, that's meant a North Face fleece, khakis, and New Balances. Lewis says his "look of nothing" is about absolving oneself from fashion, "lest it mark you as a mindless sheep."
So now, apparently, I am part of a trend. A trend that includes my dad, and all of my friends' dads. A trend that presumably thumbs its nose at fashion, through spending hundreds of dollars attempting to look like Jerry Seinfeld (but the one from the 90's. Not the one from Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee).
I hope I can ride this one out. I like my plain t-shirts, and I'm getting to old to try to find a new thing. I guess I will be "normcore". A fashion rebel. An iconoclast, thumbing my nose at those consumerist sheep. I will wear my khaki pants as a badge of honour, my t-shirts as a flag of allegiance to the state of bland.
I am normcore! Hear me...speak politely in my indoor voice. I'm in public, for heaven's sake.
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