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A brief history of normcore and other things that weren’t things before they became things

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
No, they are not OK because normcore.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Once upon a time, there were people who didn’t care about fashion and would just wear what was comfortable. Or people who, on their day off, liked non-skinny, non-trendy jeans and non-cool sneakers. There were people who could not be bothered to know what color was in and what hemline was out. People who took the definition of classic, “a garment of a simple, elegant, and long-lasting style,” and took the elegance and style out of it. There were items of clothing with nothing to say, design objects with no design to them, and that was just fine, refreshing even. This phenomenon did not have a name, because no name was needed for something that wasn’t anything.

But then…then it became normcore.

The term was coined last year by K-Hole, a New York trendspotting collective, but it had only a dribble of interest on the internet until New York Magazine wrote an article about it. Then, way too quickly, this happened.

Over 55,000 news results for norm core in a month. Cleavage normcore! Hashtag normcore.

Jerry Seinfeld became a style icon, the icon of the new style of having no style.

In just a month, normcore became so much of a thing that an explainer was needed for it. And explainers of the explainer.

According to the map below, 6.7 billion humans aren’t in the slightest concerned by the (non) existence of normcore. Let’s look at where this new concept is most talked about:

New York. Where people specialize in making big deals out of things that are not a big deal.

I’ll resist the temptation to make bad jokes about Canada’s fascination with normcore (and so should you) and will instead offer some evidence that normcore is one of the “instant” trends the evil people working in the media industry come up with, to artificially create first-world problems.

And then write explainers for them. Or listicles.

You know, first world problems like being a Millennial.

Or a hipster.

The good news is, we make up these things then forget they are things. Remember the Harlem shake? I hope you never bothered understanding what it was.


Twerking? It’s so 2013.

This all to prove that everything you need to know about normcore is: absolutely nothing. Don’t fall for the normcore trap. Don’t let us fool you again. Don’t click on the explainers.

Normcore too shall pass and you’ll be left with useless knowledge of a trend that never was—and a bunch of sad clothes.

Correction: An earlier version of this article included search results from Google News that showed no mention of normcore before Mar. 20. The writer didn’t realize that although Google News allows searches for any date range, it will only display results less than a month old. The writer is very sorry for the confusion and for neglecting a vital part of the all-important history of normcore.

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