Normcore: The Trend Is Toward Non-Trending

Consumption seems so very fashionable, and so does being right on time and not a minute late. Nothing seems to bring all those imperatives together better than fashion and beauty itself.

So for at least the next few weeks, until this trend is completely spent, it is quite current to just let yourself go. Do what you want to do. Be who you want to be. Do-be-do-be-do.

Marketers, don't get fancy.

Online content makers and advertisers should be mindful of this not totally new, but totally growing attitude.

From now on less is just right. Sometime last summer, New York magazine’s Fiona Duncan wrote, “I realized that, from behind, I could no longer tell if my fellow SoHo pedestrians were art kids or middle-aged, middle-American tourists. Clad in stonewashed jeans, fleece and comfortable sneakers, both types looked like they might’ve just stepped off an R-train after shopping in Times Square.”

She checked with her hipster pal Brad, who said there was a name for that fashion non-statement: Normcore.

Thus named, Duncan has become its champion and since the end of February, when she wrote her piece for New York, ‘nothing fashion’ is really something.  

Normcore  is all about “embracing sameness deliberately as a new way of being cool, rather than striving for ‘difference’ or ‘authenticity,’ “ she explained. “In fashion, though, this manifests itself in ardently ordinary clothes. Mall clothes. Blank clothes. The kind of dad-brand non-style you might have once associated with Jerry Seinfeld, but transposed on a Cooper Union student with William Gibson glasses.”

But there’s more. Last Tuesday, quite unplanned apparently, the #nomakeupselfie popped up on Twitter, inspired by Cancer Research UK. Started spontaneously, women began shooting and then posting selfies of themselves without makeup, and at the same time, pledging 2 million British pounds to cancer research.  

“The fact is, realistically, not many of us are capable of running a marathon and becoming an athlete in just a matter of a few months,” explained Kasia Piekut, a social media manager, writing on Econsultancy’s blog. “The success of this campaign shows that people want to become part of a fundraising activity and on this occasion taking selfies has become a way of allowing people to feel involved.”

This loosening up of the “beauty” idea has its own recent history. Of course, everybody is aware of Dove’s marvelous Campaign for Real Beauty campaign that started nine years ago (wow! Time flies), which similarly impressed upon on women (and I’d say men, by implication), that much like Mister Rogers told their parents, they should like themselves just as they are.

In 2011, Dove released a study that said only 11% of girls feel comfortable using the word “beautiful” to describe their looks, and that in one grouping of girls 12-17, a full 72% said they felt tremendous pressure about their looks.  The latest in the series were the Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches that showed women’s own self-described impressions of their appearance is far more severe than what others see in them. But those ads struck a nerve, apparently.

More recently, Aerie, the British equivalent of the American Apparel brand, announced it wouldn’t make its models look any more perfect than they already are. “No more retouching our girls and no more supermodels,” the ads say. “The real you is sexy.”

I can’t help but think online video, particularly user generated content, Instagrams and Vines, aren’t pushing this idea, along with a youth generation that like 1960s hippies, are now increasingly defining themselves by what they don’t have (TVs) or want (cars). 

It may take a little thinking to figure this trend out, but it seems digital might be the inheritors of a millennial population uniquely uninterested in certain non-essential accoutrements of youth culture. In other words, don’t waste their time with junk.

pj@mediapost.com


















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