My recent trip to Japan inspired me to explore the relaxed silhouettes and low-key styles that emerged in the wake of normcore. I should have seen it coming because the signs had been all over the Asian street style blogs for months. In case you didn’t already know, normcore is the slippery concept that dressing in an unremarkably normal way is somehow fashionable.
Confused? You will be.
The problem with normcore as it appeared in Europe and the US is that it’s so blandly nondescript that you can’t get away with it unless you’re a bright young thing or a middle-aged white guy, in which case go ahead. In Japan, though, the raw materials to take an idea like this and run with it are all in place. They've got avant-garde fashion, awesome school uniforms and Uniqlo, all of which ground the concept in something altogether more stylish to begin with. Only the Japanese could elevate unremarkable clothing to an art form.
It looks a bit dull at first glance but in action it makes a certain kind of sense: a back-to-basics aesthetic that's not so much about keeping up appearances as enjoying the clothes for their own sake. There's a strange liberation to be found in embracing a non-identity and nothing's more comforting in cold weather than loose-fitting pants and a big woolly jumper. Then again, baggy head to toe is challenging and I’m not getting dressed without considering how it all fits together. There's got to be a certain attention to detail and I can't resist a statement shoe.
So here’s my take on Japanese normcore with two favourite jumpers and accompanying source material. I’m very comfortable in both these looks and I’ll be wearing more like them this winter. Just not every day.
I like to think of this man’s sweater as the normest of the normcore. It is lovely, but there’s nothing remotely fashionable about it, as I discovered when I tried to write about it on my short-lived blog last year. The only way to style it is to embrace its geezerly quality and team it with slouchy mannish pants and the type of shoes your sleazy uncle might wear. Mon Oncle indeed.
This is fancier, but only slightly. My all-time favourite woolly jumper (>10 y.o Pringle) worn with oversized denim pants by Christophe Lemaire, found on the deepest of deep discounts in the women’s department (I’m pretty sure they’re menswear.) Outstanding cut and fabrication, very dubious fit. Finished off with a pair of Japanese kawaii sneakers so high-concept they’re mildly absurd.
I have the vaguest of doubts about these sneakers, even though they fill me with irrational joy. I can’t take them back and I never saw myself in Stan Smiths anyway, but are they a little OTT?