It’s Doomsday-esque to say the Internet “killed” anything. According to several articles, the Internet has, at one point or another, killed everything from newspapers, novels, print in general, attention spans, the record industry, polite disagreement, celebrity grieving and your memory. But if there’s one thing the Internet hasn’t quite killed but instead knocked around with baseball bats Casino-style, it’s slow building trend analysis.
We say slow building trend analysis deliberately. Trend analysis isn’t going anywhere, but like a lot of things, it’s been sped up to the point where it’s become nearly meaningless. How else can you explain Normcore, a trend that only came to the public attention a few weeks ago but already feels overdone? At this point, Normcore as we know it has even been debunked by the trend agency which came up with the phrase in the first place.
Dazed Digital noted that K-Hole put out a correction on February 27, stating that “Normcore finds liberation in being nothing special, and realizes that adaptability leads to belonging.” They state that what’s been termed as Normcore is actually called “Acting Basic.” Apparently “the point of Normcore is that you could dress like a NASCAR mascot for a big race and then switch to raver ware for a long druggy night at the club. It’s about infinitely flexible, sunny appropriation.” By K-Hole’s standards, wearing a suit to your aunt’s second wedding (you never liked that uncle anyway, always hogging the remote and watching F1) and then getting changed to see your friends is Normcore. If this was Buzzfeed, this’d be the place where we’d include a witty “person doing a deep sigh and/or rolling their eyes” gif.
All of this begs us to ask the question: Why does nonsense work so well in fashion (or, at least, writing about fashion)? Normcore was even featured on New York news station Pix 11. Between the reporter’s barely suppressed laughter and a blogger straight from Jimmy Kimmel’s fashion week skit, and you have a nice, lighthearted news piece. It’s right up there with “kitten goes surfboarding” in the frivolous stakes. It’s also testament to the power of a catchy name.
The news segment itself deserves a detailed look. To set the scene: A reporter is interviewing a blogger from True Fashionista Now; His name is Tyrone Farley, although he’s only referred to as True Fashionista Now on camera; The reporter is wearing a beanie and gloves, the blogger a blazer and sunglasses; It doesn’t look sunny or warm; It looks like Farley has all his blazer buttons done up, which should let you know that he’s no #menswear aficionado (one would know that that’s a cardinal sin); A cursory search of TFN shows a rarely updated site and twitter feed used mainly to wish happy birthday to celebrities. We bring this up not to be mean, but to point out that he might not actually be the fashion expert he’s made himself out to be. But we can’t knock the hustle. Nonetheless, he’s on the piece as the voice of reason for this trend, walking the reporter through “daddy jeans” and hyping up Barack Obama’s style credentials. Normcore is the sort of thing people like to mock fashion for, which is why it’s gained so much traction.
In an environment when traction rules everything around Me, that’s all that matters. New York magazine recently did a piece celebrating all the press the original article got, ignoring that most people were mocking it. We’ve entered a world where it’s impossible to critique something because by even acknowledging its existence, you’ve already lost. If the Internet’s done anything, it’s make articles that appear to do nothing except troll their audience. And yes, writing that sentence was painful.