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Normcore: Or the Fetishization of No Fashion

I’ve spent my career working in the rag trade.  I’ve worked with designers and merchants, knock-off artists and pattern-makers.  I’ve worked sample sales until my feet felt like bowling balls.  So I know that anybody can buy Fashion at the highest price, but I learned that a real fashionista knows where to get it cheap.  (And the biggest mavens of all are the ones who get their fashion for FREE.)    But what I can’t fathom is this weird, ironic hipster fetish to name everything, including basic stuff that isn’t meant to BE fashion.  Stuff like white tee shirts and grey sweat pants are now referred to as “normcore.”    In the biz we call these things basics, or commodities.  We plan and produce them in the unit of measure called “dozens.”

Now let’s look at the word fetish for a minute.  A fetish is defined as an object that inspires an irrational reverence or obsessive devotion.  Fashion may be your fetish, but you take it one step too far when you have to name every article of clothing you wear as fashion.  The elasticized-waist clothes you put on when you roll out of bed on Saturday and fart down to the corner for a bagel are NOT “fashion.”  They are sweats.  I love them; they are comfy and serve the purpose of keeping America beautiful, and that’s a noble-enough purpose, but they are neither “norm” nor “core.”

I’m dating myself here, but back in the early 90’s Kurt Cobain created a market run on flannel shirts.  I was working for a men’s sportswear company at the time, and that fall season we sold out of men’s flannel shirts ~ especially size small.  This created a double whammy problem:

1.  We missed business because we didn’t have enough to satisfy this huge demand and

2.  How the heck were we going to plan the following year??

Nobody called these garments anything but flannel shirts.  They were a was a nice business when we sold them to your grandpa, and it was a nice blip when we sold them to the aspiring grunge rockers who preceded this group of ironically name-happy hipsters.  But we didn’t kid ourselves into thinking we were redefining the shirt.

 

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2 thoughts on “Normcore: Or the Fetishization of No Fashion

  1. I have a name for the clothes you mentioned, Rosie. Comfortable! 😀 I still wear a flannel shirt over my t-shirts during the winter and the fall. I was never into Grunge very much though! 🙂

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