According to a recent New York Mag article, a new fashion trend is sweeping the nation. It’s called normcore, and if you don’t know what that means, guess what, it’s okay – nobody else does either! The article does little to shed light on this super-hip ideology and its accompanying dress code, but a little research offers some insight into exactly how today’s young men and women are truly revolutionizing modern thought. So just what exactly is normcore?
Well, normcore is bee beards and novelty clown shoes. It’s wearing a turtle carapace on your head and donning soiled diapers as shoulder pads. It’s showing the world that you are reclaiming your identity as an individual by shoving a bunch of toe shoes into the pockets of your no-name denim jacket and writing “PISSMASTER” on the ass of your yoga pants. Normcore is effortless simplicity.
“I just want people to look at me and think, there’s a guy who has his shit together,” says 24 year old Darius Funk as he sips Ragu out of a mason jar and adjusts his propeller beanie. “I don’t want people to think the only thing I have going for me is my fashion sense.”
Margaret, a 26 year old race consultant for a fake company, applies Crayola washable markers to her face in a polite little coffee shop in Williamsburg. “I used to use the fine tip markers to do the ponies,” she says, “but then my friend was like, what is this, 2007? I laughed, but I was really embarrassed.” She pulls out the red marker and nervously scribbles on her forehead. “I felt like such an idiot.”
So does normcore have any strict rules in terms of what to make your body look like to strangers? As cool young people, how are we supposed to adhere to something that’s as fluid as a bicycle helmet covered in googly eyes, glowstick epaulets, and turbans filled with uncooked rice? How would you even go about identifying other normcore kids if one of them can wear a latex ski mask and another one just has a bunch of Pokemon cards superglued to their body? Also, do the beard bees sting you?
According to the NY Mag article, normcore isn’t about ironic detachment from your fashion choices. It’s about embracing appropriation and being unapologetic about it. It’s about being cool by not being cool, but not about being not cool ironically, and instead being not cool authentically, but with only a perfunctory yet enthusiastic involvement in the underlying not-coolness. It’s the understanding that in contemporary society, every day is like Halloween and every outward gesture is a costume – so instead of trying to have the best costume at the party, you get that cheap shitty mask that everyone else has, and you focus on the candy. You also have to wear a bee beard.
But, is normcore really an attempt to distance oneself from passive aggressive cultural appropriation? Or is it just inauthenticity appropriating inauthenticity itself, so far away from the original element that the dismissive guise of authority on any given subject can no longer be faked? Is there really such a thing as post-authenticity and an escape from irony though earnest ignorance, or is it just a bunch of stupid bullshit for white people who are over thinking tennis shoes? More importantly, who is paying these people’s rent? And where are they getting those bees?
For a definitive answer, many are turning to Kirk Brambleman, an ammonia refrigeration technician from Kewaskum, WI, and arguably the founder of the emerging style. He’s normcore incarnate. With his white Reebok’s ombre colored half-green from chlorophyll, a “GO BACK TO KENYA” trucker hat, and a goose-down vest from the gas station, he embodies appropriated normalcy better than anyone else. Asked to elaborate on the underlying ideology behind normcore, he sums it up both succinctly and perfectly: