Normcore and Sunglasses: A Lesson About Fashion

Normcore and Sunglasses: A Lesson About Fashion

Forbes contributor Celia Schatzman recently published her holiday gift guide to men’s sunglasses. Her guide featured eight pairs of sunglasses ranging in price from just under $250 to nearly $900. In her opening paragraph, Schatzman made a point of saying that she had found “sunglasses to suit everyone from normcore men to those who are a little more daring.”

That motivated this author to step back and think about the whole normcore concept. Normcore officially emerged about six years ago, though you could make the case that it has always existed. Still, some have said it’s not a real trend. They maintain normcore started out as a joke.

Regardless of how it started, there is no debating that normcore is a recognized fashion statement in 2019. But should it be? That depends on how you look at it. This post will look at normcore through the lens of Schatzman’s gift guide. If nothing else, our discussion will reveal the irony of the normcore movement and the dichotomy it presents.

A Normcore Primer

According to Vox’s Kelsey McKinney, the term ‘normcore’ was coined in 2013 by K-Hole, a trend forecasting and market research group. They defined it as a fashion trend characterized by looking average. Normcore lovers want to blend in with everyone else.

The normcore trend has evolved a bit since then, but its main premise is still intact. Normcore followers don’t want their fashion choices to define who they are in public. They don’t want their clothes to get all the attention. Thus, they wear what everyone else is wearing. Blue jeans, khakis, polo shirts, and tees are all the norm.

Normcore and Sunglasses

This brings us back to the Forbes article mentioned earlier. Remember, the lowest-priced sunglasses featured in that article were just under $250. The most expensive pair priced out at nearly $900. And by the way, that’s not even the most interesting aspect.

If you look at all the photographs in the Forbes piece, you will notice that each pair of sunglasses is clearly not considered a cheap pair of sunglasses you would purchase at the big-box department store. Even if you had just the pictures and no text accompanying them, you would quickly recognize those shades as high-end, branded sunglasses from fashion giants.

Here’s the irony: a person who fully embraces the normcore trend with a general belief in its legitimacy would not be spending $900 on a pair of Cartier sunglasses. Even the $247 Haze Collection sunglasses featured in the article would easily stand out in the crowd. None of the sunglasses blend in. None of them make you look average.

Wanting It Both Ways

It’s one thing if a normcore follower buys the same average, reasonably priced clothing and accessories everyone else purchases at department stores and low-end clothing stores. You can’t be more average than buying what everyone else buys. But if you’re attempting to be normcore by purchasing high-end fashion you think looks like what everyone else is wearing, you’re not getting it done. You cannot have it both ways.

The eyewear industry is well known for wanting it both ways, explains Utah-based Olympic Eyewear. Manufacturers want their sunglasses to appeal to a mass audience and yet price them for a more limited audience with means. Either your sunglasses are normcore or they aren’t.

What do you think? Is normcore legit or just a joke? At any rate, one thing is for sure: a person wearing high-end clothing and accessories the average consumer cannot afford can’t easily pass him/herself off as someone who truly appreciates normcore.

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