Normcore: The latest buzzword in men’s fashion

  • Indra Shekhar Singh, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 07, 2014 14:19 IST

Mr Perfect has always been in style. You know: snazzy suit, neat tie, impeccable grooming and faultlessly styled hair. He’s been around since the days of Frank Sinatra. He could have been the inspiration for the TV show Suits.

But you aren’t going to see much of Mr Perfect next year. Or at least, that’s what the Spring/Summer 2015 fashion shows in Europe and the US indicate. Because on the ramps were not the usual styled-up boys in pretty clothes. Instead, from Rome to Milan to Paris, there were firemen, construction workers, vagabonds and other everyday guys.

The world of workers, artists and students has become the new fashion paradigm. From California-based designer Rick Owen to Italian designer Roberto Cavalli, the Spring/Summer collections all showcased minimal style and maximum personality with casual, everyday clothes that you see on the streets, but seldom on the ramp. This is the new style. This is ‘normcore’.

What it is

Normcore is a combination of the words ‘normal’ and ‘hardcore’. The term was coined by the New York-based trend forecasting group, K-Hole. The idea is to discover what is normal and customise it to your own personal style. That is, dress for the occasion – but in your own way. So by all means dress like an IPL mascot for a big match, but also switch to more daring wear for a long night at the club later.

"True style comes by first discovering yourself and then confidently wearing it," says fashion designer Rajesh Pratap Singh. The idea is to assertively blend in, not stand out. "We have long been confused in big cities," says Singh. "We don’t know where to look and what to wear."

That, he explains, is because our horizons have expanded so much. “Because we are travelling more and get so much information from the Internet, we know more about fashion and underground cultures than we ever did before and that confuses us,” he explains.

Big city boys are the worst affected, he says. “Small town men are confident, comfortable and know who they are. Their isolation from the big cities’ cultures has saved their style.”

How do we know we’re far too influenced by what other people think we should wear? Well, for example, blindly following the style guides of the West may mean that you stick your sweaty feet into leather boots for starters! It’s only common sense to dress for your own climate, but the too fashionable always put style over comfort. Now even ramps are talking about comfortable style.

“We have to be adaptable and style ourselves to situations,” says Singh. “The normcore trend will explode in India as soon as we discover our roots in terms of fabrics, patterns and identity.”

How to dress normcore

K-Hole co-founder Emily Segal speaking in the British fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue, explains the thinking behind this hyper-normalised styling: “There’s an exhaustion with trying to seem different. People are genuinely tired by the fact that to achieve status you need to be different from everyone else around you.”

That means there is no particular style diktat this year. Being normcore means being confident and comfortable with what you wear, whether it’s a bathrobe or tennis shorts. Men are being told to mix and match their wardrobes and not be afraid of looking ordinary or normal.

Want more advice? Keep checking out designers, read fashion blogs and pick outfits that make your personality shine. Simply, be inspired by everyday life. And be truly normcore.

From HT Brunch, July 13
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