On February 26th 2014 at 8:00am, the fashion world had a collective brain haemorrhage when it was decided that ‘Normcore’ was the Next Big Thing. From New York to Milan, Paris to London, spoonfuls of almond milk porridge were suspended en route to expectant mouths and overpriced coffees went cold as editors tried to get their heads around an article in ‘The Cut’ that proclaimed that uncool stuff was cool now. Fiona Duncan’s hugely influential piece described it as ‘stylized blandness’ and ‘the kind of dad-brand non-style you might have once associated with Jerry Seinfeld’. The idea boils down to this: anyone can look cool in something that’s cool but you’ve got to be really cool to look cool in Crocs.
Frankly, it’s ideas like this that make people think fashion is bloody stupid because if you go to, say, a village pub and you see a rambler wearing hiking boots and a Patagonia fleece you don’t think ‘there’s a guy who reads The Cut what a stylish man’ you think ‘I really hope he doesn’t start talking to me about craft ale.’ But, if you see someone wearing the exact same outfit in, say, a Soho restaurant dedicated to home-made crisps, you’re supposed to recognise he’s a Cool Guy who Doesn’t Care What You Think About His Clothes. It’s an exclusionary clique that relies on the viewer to do the hard work rather than the person putting his outfit together.
But no matter how much I gripe it’s not going to change the fact that this got the wheels turning on a trend that’s still influencing what we’re wearing today. In fact, you’ve got to give props to the fashion world for taking what was essentially an ‘anti-fashion’ movement and making it fashionable. This is where the rise of double denim really kicked off because at the time you’d have to think long and hard to come up with anything less cool than the much maligned ‘Canadian Tuxedo.’ I mean, look at this:
I’m of the opinion that spending your time thinking about the least cool thing you can think of and then going out and buying it is a bizarre thought pattern but I recently bought a £90 pair of low top Converse because they were made in Japan so who am I to judge how other people spend their money. What separates double denim and some of the naff things that ‘Normcore’ dug up is that it is, objectively, pretty cool. I mean, look at this:
It’s a very male, classic and rugged look that evokes a classic, practical form of masculinity. We might have overdone it a bit in the 90s with the rhinestones but if you go back to these old school washes and cuts what you have is a versatile, unpretentious outfit that you can wear pretty much anywhere. The fact that it came from Normcore might be the equivalent of going mining for shit and unexpectedly hitting a vein of gold, but it’s a good look just the same.