In the week since normcore exploded into our consciousness, the internet has been awash with pictures of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld hanging out in their slacks and trainers looking like the epitome of anti-cool. People are already so fed up with the trend that someone's even invented a Chrome extension that will remove any mention of normcore from your browser. But according to the group that came up with it, everybody's got normcore totally wrong.
K-Hole, the New York trend forecasting agency that coined the term, has posted an explanation of normcore on their Facebook page to clear things up. Penned by LA-based journalist Christopher Glazek, it states that normcore has absolutely nothing to do with clothes and more to do with personalities. So, contrary to popular opinion, it's not about stonewashed jeans and black polo necks.
Glazek writes: "Normcore means you pursue every activity like you're a fanatic of the form. It doesn't really make sense to identify normcore as a fashion trend – the point of normcore is that you could dress like a NASCAR mascot for a big race and then switch to raver ware for a long druggy night at the club. It's about infinitely flexible, sunny appropriation."
What everyone has been losing their shit over is, in fact, an older and more dated K-Hole concept called Acting Basic, which refers to dressing with forced neutrality in order to avoid standing out. Even Fiona Duncan, the writer behind the NYMag feature that started this all, has admitted that the article "totally confuses the two terms that K-Hole proposed".
"I regret that," she writes on Facebook, explaining that the lengthy editing process was to blame for the misunderstanding and the article's disproportionate focus on Acting Basic fashion (read: fleeces, comfortable trainers). "The piece went through many many rounds of drafts, through several editors, each time becoming more and more about fashion."
Basically, normcore in its original form has nothing to do with clothes and more to do with personalities: it's the idea that an individual adapts to a situation at hand and embraces the normalcy of where they are and who they're with. So you could go to a football match during the day and wear a replica football strip like everyone else, then go to a cyberpunk night later on and wear head-to-toe Cyberdog.
Normcore represents a fluidity of identity that's emerging in youth culture: a willingness to forgo a consistent individuality in order to embrace acceptance. As Luke O'Neill puts it in this article for Dazed: "Normcore then, in its pure state, is about empathy and connectivity."
Want to go the Acting Basic route anyway? Here's a few brands that will help you complete the look:
The Marks and Spencers clothes arm. It's functional clothing predominantly donned by casual Sunday afternoon drinkers, cinema goers (ODEON only) and dog walkers. Hugh Laurie may have worn Blue Harbour while he recorded his jazz album.
George by ASDA
ASDA's lonely clothes range, affordable and bland, aside from the ill-advised foray that they made into designing slogan t-shirts. People who are buying ingredients for a quiche in the supermarket may nip upstairs for a pair of cargo shorts because they read in the paper that it's set to be a couple of degrees warmer this spring.
The perfect brand for those wannabe sailor mums who summer in Abersoch or Anglesey, post on Mumsnet looking for 'lovely places to go' and spend a lot of time bitching about how heels hurt.
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot