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Fashion

Meeting London's Normcore Elite

We took to the streets to investigate the world's most exciting new youth subculture.

VICE Staff

VICE Staff

Normcore icon Larry David (photo via)

By now you'll have heard about "normcore", the latest street style to have seduced the world's metropolitan youth. Like any authentic subculture, its strengths are mostly down to its slow and organic development – from being invented by a trend-forecasting agency, through massive exposure in New York Magazine and, in the space of about three days, being literally everywhere you look on an internet that has been desperate for something new to laugh at ever since seapunk died with Azealia Banks' career back in 2012.

According to the write-up in NYMag, it should be difficult to tell a true normcorer apart from a "middle-American tourist". In that, instead of subscribing to that lame Gen-X idea that looking unique is something to brag about, they are "embracing sameness deliberately as a new way of being cool". By that, they mean all the cool kids are dressing like Larry David and Nick Clegg, wearing plain T-shirts, turtlenecks and unbranded jeans, instead of the PVC goat masks and Armani tracksuits they were sporting last year.

As it's a city renowned for its cultural innovations, we figured the people of London would probably have been in on the whole normcore trend for months by now, so we had a walk around, found some OG normcorers and asked them about the new style they pioneered. 

VICE: So, when did you first get into normcore?
Jamie, 22, student: I don't know, really. I kind of gradually developed into it within the last few years, I'd say. I was a bit more mainstream when I was a teenager, but in the last few years I've gone a bit more for that approach.

When were you first aware that you were becoming a tastemaker in the normcore scene?
I started doing it before I'd heard of it, so it was a coincidence, basically – you know what I mean? I probably heard of the term within the last year. Before, I didn't know what it was.

What would you say are the staples of the normcore look?
I go for the laid-back approach; not necessarily an attitude that you don't care – like you're a douchebag or something – but you're really laid-back about what you want to wear. You wear what you're comfortable with, things like Converse, comfortable-fitting hoodies, not too skinny jeans – stuff like that.

Okay, cool. Have you noticed a lot more people picking up on the trend?
To be honest, I'm finding the whole trend in east London... the kind of hipster stuff – I think it's going too far, everyone's wearing actual vintage clothing and that's just trying too hard.

Hannah, 19, accounts (left, not normcore) and Mike, 24, product manager (normcore)

What first attracted you to the normcore trend?
Mike:
What do you mean?

I mean, when did you start wearing the normcore look yourself?
I guess [my look] just stems from when I was younger, listening to a specific type of music, going to gigs, having friends that all follow a similar kind of fashion.
Hannah: I didn't hear the question.

No worries, it wasn't aimed at you. I was wondering what made you get into the normcore style?
I don't know, really – when you're younger, you want to be more unique. It's part of being a teenager.

Cool. Any advice for others trying and failing to rock the normcore look?
Mike:
I do one clothes shop every two years. My wardrobe is out of date. That's a fact.

That's actually pretty good advice. 

Hey man, you look properly normcore. What governs your fashion choices?
Scott, 30:
Tradition. Good tailoring. I'm drawn towards darker colours. Wools. I guess a kind of military look, but not quite.

That seems quite stylised for the normcore scene.
What's normcore?

What's normcore? Don't pretend you don't know.
I've lived abroad for seven years, so terms like normcore are kind of obscure to me.

Really? Where did you live? The moon?
Amsterdam.

What kind of clothes do they wear there?
Kind of high end, on one level, but because they're quite DIY, socialist kind of people, sometimes they can appear slightly, um, crusty.

Great. Thanks, Scott.

How would you describe your personal take on normcore?
Sayed, 37, call centre worker: Casual. That's not very specific is it?

No. Do you stay normcore at work? Or branch out?
We've got a casual dress code, so pretty much what I'm wearing now – trainers, jeans or casual trousers, or whatever.

Cool, that sounds pretty casual. Have you got any advice for other potential normcorers?
That's a tricky one. I'd say you can mix high street and expensive stuff – don't just write off certain things. Be creative with it, especially if you're on a budget. You can make something look good that someone else might not be able to. Mix your styles, mix your influences, don't just dress all in one label.

Thanks, Sayed.

When did you get into normcore?
Lotte, 20, student: What?

Normcore. It's more about comfort than style. But it's still very much about style.
Oh, I mainly shop in charity shops. Obviously I go to the main shops as well, but I'd say [my look] was kind of vintagey.

Do you have any normcore style icons?
No, not really. I just sort of pick what I like if I like it.

I guess that's what it's all about. Thanks, Lotte.