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Garreth van Niekerk
20 Mar 2014 00:00
Karl Lagerfeld's supermarket show has been described as normcore. (Supplied)
If you have been on a self-imposed social media ban for the past month, you may have missed #normcore. Coined by K-HOLE (a New York-based trend-forecasting collective) but popularised by the New York Times, the latest hashtag is already transcending the boundaries of its pervasive predecessor, the hipster.
What it is, exactly, is a little tricky to pin down, but I suppose that is the point.
Normcore is being described as "situational sensitivity" by some, though others have hailed it as a move back to normalcy – as someone being "consciously bland".
Last week, normcore was being used to describe the emerging fashion trends of Rick Owens, Karl Lagerfeld's supermarket show and Nicolas Ghesquière's highly anticipated new vision for Louis Vuitton.
The term was also being applied to bands of the 21st century, such as Haim with its Fleetwood Mac sounds and The Roots – "a conscious rap group cracking jokes on Jimmy Fallon".
According to one of K-HOLE's founders, Sean Monahan, "normcore is a desire to be blank".
He added: "Fundamentally, the way that we thought about it at K-HOLE is that people used to be born into communities and were sort of thrust into the world and had to find their own individuality.
Marketers are obviously going crazy about normcore. They may finally have a new ism to add to their ever-increasing arsenal of adspeak. It will fit beautifully into their Powerpoint presentations with titles such as Millennials and Their Habits.
Admittedly, it has a certain ring to it and the idea of being hardcore normal is really appealing. There is something wildly liberating about accepting the rules and standards of the environment you're placed in. Totally conforming when you need to conform. Just being.
The finest example of normcore is the king of the normsters, Jerry Seinfeld, whose utter blandness has left an indelible mark on the generation that grew up laughing at or with him. If you wanted to spot a normster on the street and exclaim: "Oh, how normcore!", you would be looking for the following: young types who go out of their way to take anything interesting out of their appearance and appear, for all intents and purposes, 100% normal.
What would make it hard, of course, is to spot the difference between someone truly normal and someone actually normcore. The distinction is minute but could save you some awkwardly normal conversation. The only way to know would be to go up to them and ask.
The thought of being mistaken for someone truly normal may seem terrifying to late normcore adopters, but Emily Segal of K-HOLE offers this advice: "It's about welcoming the possibility of being recognisable, of looking like other people" – and "seeing that as an opportunity for connection, instead of as evidence that your identity has dissolved".
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