By Hsiao Chih-lin（蕭芷琳）, Chong Cai-rong（鍾采蓉）
Is your wardrobe full of clothes that you don’t wear just because it’s outdated? If you try a new wearing style – Normcore (反璞歸真) – you will change your mind about fashion.
Before Normcore came out, Luxury chic (奢華時尚) for a long time was the leading trend, with Channel, Burberry, LV and so on being the well-known brands, which have helped to bring about High Street fashion(高街時尚).
High Street fashion, also known as fast fashion (快時尚), means that the brand doesn’t have a classic style but releases a lot of new designs every week. And it would be easy to be drawn into a whirlpool of copying the design of Luxury chic or popular designers.
In 2006, ZARA, Forever 21, H&M and other brands started storming the fashion environment of young people.
Fast fashion controversy
In 2009, in addition to European and American brands, Korean brand SPAO also appeared. The principle of lower price and faster ‘’design’’ strengthened these brands, and they turned into a big current worldwide.
In the eyes of consumers, the fashion world is all glitz and glamour. In fact there are quite some public scandals. For example, ZARA has been accused of plagiarism, though it still earns over $10 billion every year. Similarly accused H&M makes even bigger profits – over $20,000 million each year.
But why some Luxury chic brands acquiesce in this way? Chen Shi-jin, the chair of Fashion Administration & Management Department of St. John’s University, said, ‘’Maybe LV should thank those who copy the design. If there isn’t any kick-off, LV wouldn’t be a popular brand. ’’
As Chen said, kick-offs help the brand push their design to everyone. It’s not just copy but also the business model that make them popular.
High Street fashion seemed a booming business, but since 2016 it has been confronted with a big change in the consciousness of consumers, and its sales have fallen.
The rising of Normcore
A survey about wearing style done by our reporters found that 84.8% of people choose not the fashion style but the comfort level as the top concern when buying clothes. It shows that the word ‘’Normcore’’ is catching up.
Normcore, normal and hardcore, became a buzzword in the fashion circle in 2014. ‘’Don’t chase brands, and you just need comfortable clothes’’ is the main argument for Normcore.
The classic style of Normcore is simple clothes without logo or characteristic design, like plain tee and jeans. And there are some sporty styles inside it, like sneakers. It’s totally the comfortable style in fashion world.
In just a few years, Normcore has become chic in the fashion circle and turned into a wearing style. And now it’s all in rage. According to surveys done by our reporters, over 70 percent (75.1%) of the people now choose Normcore as the wearing style, followed by Sporty (18.6%) and High Street fashion (18.3%).
MUJI (無印良品) is the typical Normcore brand. If you ever go shopping, you would find that you just can’t find the logo on each purchase. Lower brand identity (產品辨識度) is their sales strategy. It looked strange at the time MUJI was set up, but now it is just like fashion itself.
No wonder many Luxury brands have started to chase Normcore, and there are even some new Normcore brands, such as Bread & Boxers, founded in 2009, that sells only the plain tee.
Actually, both Normcore and High Street fashion share the same opinion- diminishing brand awareness, but they achieve opposite goals.
Normcore means take off ‘’fashion’’ in our mind, it advocates wearing unchic but comfortable clothes, and thus it tries to remove the characteristics of brand.
But why does High Street fashion not want to build up brand image? Chen said that what brands of clothes you wear will affect the value you uphold. Look at Giordano, which was really popular in the 1980s. Now nobody wants to wear its clothes because ‘’Giordano’’ is printed on the shirt.
The evolution of Fast fashion
As Normcore sprang up, High Street fashion brand is pigeonholed as knock-off and the product unfriendly to the environment, so some try to change their sales strategy. For example, Uniqlo works hard in environmental movements and slows down its releasing of new designs.
And nowadays there are many brands of online auction, especially hit style ones that are considered as the extension of High Street fashion. They copy not only luxury chic but the hit fashion brand.
For example, VETEMENTS as a brand of Eccentric Street chic (街頭前衛時尚) has released some popular designs, like the longer sleeves hoodie and the DHL T-shirt. And many online auctions noticed the business opportunities and copied the design, so you would find that there were many knock-offs at the same time.
The future of Normcore
Maybe the reason why Normcore has surged is that people are weary of chasing the wearing style in every season, but there still are some problems. Take ‘’brand” for example. There are some brands that are defined as ‘’Normcore,’’ but the spirit of the word is to get rid of brands.
In fact, the word at first indicated a move against fashion, and in spirit, Normcore can’t exist side by side with commercial fashion. Now Normcore seems just like Punk (龐克) or Hippies (嬉皮), which have come back to commercial fashion in the long run.
Beyond Normcore, thrift stores (二手衣店) are mushrooming to resist High Street fashion. Michelle Liu, the boss in INST. RECYCLE, said, ‘’ The reason why I set up the thrift store is that I have another store, so we have lots of samples in every season, and we want to sell them.’’
The movement seems friendly to the environment, but Chen said eco-friendly fashion “is just hype.’’ Second-hand clothes are connected to many different areas, not just ‘’cloth’’ – to ‘reuse’ it we must consider the carbon footprint (碳足跡) of transport and the sewage of waste water from washing clothes.
“It’s a good idea. Many people set up the thrift stores based on the idea of protecting environment, but they forget the effect.’’ Chen said.
High Street fashion is going downhill, and there are many reasons, such as the issues of pollution and labor and the coming of Normcore. Some people attribute its dwindling fortune to the impact of global economics recession.
Fashion style changes very fast. Be it Normcore or High Street fashion, do not be swayed by what the fashion people have to say. Just wear the clothes that you want. You know what kind of garment best suits you.