Normcore, mysticore, streetwear, and other words for “fashion”


Normcore, at its most basic level, is fashionable people choosing to dress unfashionably, which is hardly a new idea.

A case could be made that normcore has existed since the popularization of ready-to-wear clothing in the early 1920s. Any clothing that is not made by hand or commissioned specifically for a person is ready-to-wear. Almost immediately after the creation of ready-to-wear fashion, it became a trend to wear what everyone else was wearing, especially if you were a wealthy person not used to sharing clothes with the commoners.

This trope of rich people dressing below their income has appeared in popular culture for decades in dozens of movies including Ever After: A Cinderella Story and Disney’s Aladdin. In the 1990s the rise of grunge fashion can be categorized as a normcore precursor, typified by people choosing to wear men’s work boots and oversized cheap flannels. In 1990, high-fashion model Kate Moss was photographed wearing Birkenstocks, a very normcore shoe.

Kelsey McKinney, writing in Vox about 9 questions you’re too embarrassed to ask about normcore. It’s a long story with many details, but beware the risks:

One of the biggest problems of normcore is that, if done correctly, it’s almost impossible to tell if someone is wearing normcore as a fashion statement versus someone wearing the clothing in their closet. A dad wearing khakis that sit too high above his waist, wire-framed glasses, and a white t-shirt is just as normcore as someone who intentionally bought New Balance sneakers from a shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in order to be on trend. As Simon Doonan recounted for Slate, it’s very easy to mistake your friend’s boyfriend for a normcore believer, only to offend him.


Stores specializing in metaphysical sundries (think ritual candles, blended oils, sacred herbs) like Spellbound Sky and House of Intuition in Los Angeles, while not brand-new, are suddenly crowded. In Brooklyn, Witches of Bushwick has evolved from a venue on the underground party circuit to a social collective that celebrates witchcraft as a feminist art and collaborates with fashion companies like Chromat. Of course, for those who prefer whipping up potions at home, several new witch- and occult-themed subscription boxes deliver the magical arts to the doorstep.

This is by Laura Bolt, writing in Salon about “Mysticore,” the new norm: Inside the trend that’s casting its spell over the culture.

Not just witches are enjoying a cultural renaissance, though. All manner of magic is in the air, as the New Age movement’s lighter granola-and-Zen fare has given way to the practice of a more modern mysticism, where conversations about conjuring, personal shamans and powerful potions can be intense as they are ubiquitous. While social media and feminism have brought witchcraft to the fore, the new kaleidoscopic array of spell casting, ritual observing (from pagan holidays to full moons) and crystal charging draws from traditional mysticism, magic and paganism. Served buffet style to an eager audience of open-minded converts, it’s shining a white light on everything from fashion and health to politics.

Making sure we understand Mysticore’s supremacy over Normcore, Laura continues:

This may be the most prevalent, hidden-in-plain sight trend that you couldn’t quite put a finger on since “normcore.” Last fall the folks at trend-forecasting firm K-Hole — which coined the term “normcore” — looked into the cultural crystal ball to release a paper dubbed “A Report on Doubt.” Normcore, that infinitely hashtag-able trend that tapped into a “post-authenticity coolness that opts into sameness,” stood against style clichés and aggressive street-style peacocking — it promised freedom through assimilation. After an endless stream of articles about how wearing dad jeans was indeed the ultimate hipster power move, time had come for the cultural pendulum to swing. K-Hole’s new prediction was that logic and “sameness” were becoming relics and people were about to head into the mystic.


Of course, all of this appears to be a distant parallel from Streetwear. Marc Bain writes for Quartz:

To those who are part of streetwear, it’s about more than just clothes. It’s a culture.


The rise of streetwear has come along with a shift in what younger generations think of as luxury and status symbols. In its 2017 report on the luxury market, the management consulting firm Bain & Company noted that high-end fashion brands are “investing in luxury streetwear” to attract younger shoppers. It estimated that the market for high-end sneakers grew 10% from 2016 to 2017, reaching €3.5 billion (about $4.2 billion), and t-shirts grew 25% to €2.5 billion (about $3 billion).

At that scale, one must at least partially agree with Bain’s headline: ‘WHY ISN’T STREETWEAR JUST CALLED “FASHION”?‘‌.


[T]hose bad times—and that geopolitical meltdown—are here. Fashion has reacted with a Lang-aissance that began simmering in 2015 and has now begun to boil over. Look to the Spring 2019 men’s runways and you’ll see harness bags strapped to chests, tank tops mimicking the shape of bulletproof vests, and pants with enough pockets to double as storage units. It’s at Off-White and Louis Vuitton, both designed by Lang acolyte Virgil Abloh. It’s taken hold at British labels, A-Cold-Wall and Cottweiler, where models were secured with dozens of little puttees and hiking straps. It’s everywhere there’s a utility pocket, a hammer hook, or a stripe of 3M tape so you are safe at night.

Steff Yotka, writing in Vogue asks has Warcore Replaced Normcore in fashion?. The bleakness continues:

Arguably, this strain of warcore clothing is reflective of the violence, chaos, and widespread anxiety in the world at large. Athleisure, gorpcore, workwear, and streetwear are all obvious antecedents, what’s new is the sense of survivalism. The buzzy streetwear brand Anti Social Social Club is producing actual riot shields