Every time I receive an email from a PR agency, my heart sinks.
It's the sickly overfamiliarity - "Hey sweets!" "Love and hugs xoxo" - from a person I've never spoken to before, who is invariably named Merlin or Euripides or Saskia if they're just norm-posh, combined with the generic message that isn't relevant to the magazine I write for and is approximately as interesting as the back of a packet of own-brand rice. My eyes glaze over the way your friends' do when you talk about your extremely interesting* and complex** dreams. I didn't even blink when a PR got in touch last week to offer me a sample of a vibrator that looked like a stapler (they must be struggling following the demise of More! magazine). Click. Delete.
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But one month ago - April 1st, to be exact - I got an email from a PR that made me laugh so enthusiastically that the juice I was drinking dribbled down my chin, which is what everyone truly means when they claim to have spat their drink out. 'Hi Natasha,' it began. 'Here are some pieces from some of our brands that would fit in with any articles you're writing about the current normcore trend.' Underneath the text was a collage of clothes: a pair of straight-leg jeans; sturdy walking boots; a nondescript t-shirt; a fleece.
Normcore! I thought this was quite a good April Fools joke, and while I wiped the juice from my chin I made a mental note not to be so mean about PRs in future. A few weeks later, however, I saw an entire spread in a fashion magazine dedicated to 'getting the normcore look' and realised with disbelief that this was actually, genuinely A Thing. Normcore is 'a fashion trend of stylised blandness'. It's a label for normal clothes that normal people wear when they do normal things like go to the supermarket and fart on the couch. The term was coined by trend forecasting agency K-HOLE, which seems fitting considering that's where it sent me tumbling into.
Initially I found everything about normcore painfully embarrassing. The name, with its 'core' suffix reminiscent of every emo kid's Myspace profile in 2006. The hipsterish claim that the point of normcore is to make an anti-fashion statement; so, a fashion statement then. Search Instagram for 'normcore' and amid the self-aware people using it ironically you'll find a glut of idiots who have shaved their beards, binned their ankle grazers, set fire to their plaid shirts and earnestly stuck a Fruit of the Loom t shirt on with the caption #normcore underneath, which is akin to screaming "HEY EVERYONE, LOOK AT ME BLENDING IN!" It's like watching the Queen go undercover in a tracksuit but forgetting that her crown's still on and her corgis are sticking out her waistband.
I've decided that rather than punch myself in the face repeatedly, I'm going to deal with normcore by enjoying it beatifically like one of those positive people from films. Instead of getting angry at the Nathan Barley media dumdum that invented it, I'm going to pretend that normcore began after Karl Lagerfeld and Vivienne Westwood sat about in grey jogging bottoms one night, watching Eastenders and deciding for a laugh that Ian Beale would be their new muse. I'm going to live in hope that Lady Gaga will adapt the trend in her own special way by constructing an outfit from Lidl lunchmeats and tins of spam. And for once in my life I'm going to feel happy for my nemesis, blandy mcblandface Dermot O'Leary, because he's totes relevant right now. You go girl!
10 Ultimate normcore inspirations
1. Off-duty Mila Kunis: enjoys comfy leggings
2. Homer Simpson: forever in blue jeans
3. Louis CK: champion of the unbranded black t-shirt
4. Jane Birkin: never knowingly overdressed
5. Frank Black: likes a plain, sweaty polo shirt
6. Joanna Lumley when she went to Norway: excellent puffa jacket collection
7. Jill from Home Improvement: the original soccer mom
8. The cast of Friends: could they be any more normcore?
9. Your dad: probably
10. Kim Kardashian: just kidding