I was walking down Fifth Ave the other day on lunch when I passed by The Gap, only to take note of their latest campaign applied in vinyl all over their windows - "Dress Normal." My first thought, "Wow, Normcore has gone mainstream". If you're completely confused by what I'm talking about its perhaps because I am relatively caught up in the fashion world bubble. I'm not proclaiming myself as a fashionista or fashion forward gal, I am more or less only aware of trends and fashion-y things because I work in fashion. If you're not up to speed on what "Normcore" is, I went to Vogue for a definition, you can read the entire article Meet Norma Normcore [here].
Normcore is defined as, a bland anti-style. The notion of dressing in an utterly conventional, nondescript way.
Vogue goes in further to explain:
It's actually more than a decade since science-fiction writer William Gibson first painted a picture of the look which has come to symbolize the normcore aesthetic. In his novel, Pattern Recognition, Gibson describes his logo-phobic protagonist Cayce Pollard as wearing: "A small boy's black Fruit of the Loom T-shirt, a thin gray V-neck pullover purchased by the half-dozen from a supplier to the New England prep schools, and a new and oversized pair of black 501's, every trademark carefully removed." And it was this picture, of a fastidiously functional dress, that inspired the New York trend agency K-Hole to coin the term back in October last year. "Normecore doesn't want the freedom to become someone," they announce in their Youth Mode report. "Normcore moves away from a coolness that relies on difference to a post-authenticity that opt into sameness."
I for one, don't think we need to define such a thing as wearing tee-shirts, understated denim, flats or sneakers - doesn't that fit into a wealth of style genres already? All we have to do is change the silhouettes and you have grunge, punk, hip-hop, prep... the list goes on. In all of this though, the thing that makes me most confused is that the Gap is now grasping at straws with yet another campaign. This time, they're trying to make money by putting a label on something that is already them. After a little research, I realized that they are not even mentioning the obvious trend that they're trying to grab hold of. When Tom Silva of the Huffington Post reached out to The Gap CMO Seth Farbman for an explanation of their "Strange New Ad Campaign" he says,
"What I wanted, because this is Gap, was positive anxiety. When you're dressing normal, you're really your truest and most confident and authentic self. There's certainly a long tradition at Gap that people come first and that the clothes are there to make you feel like your best self, and we've been unapologetic about that for years," Farbman said in a telephone interview with BuzzFeed. "'Dress Normal' is a reinforcement of that idea."
Unfortunately, for someone like Seth Farbman, I don't think he knows that Normcore is a thing, he doesn't bring up the concept anywhere within the article. He's more concerned with the Gap ad campaign negatively associating to the past idea of the word "normal" when used within an imperative statement ("act normal," "be normal") as he says, "With a 50s era parent hectoring their child to stop listening to the Doors or to stop reading James Baldwin." You can read the entire article [here].
The other pieces to the campaign are the print ads, and the commercials directed by David Fincher. Like much of Fincher's work, these commercials are intriguing and well directed. They are said to have elevated the entire campaign. Advertising Age writes an article that speaks in depth about these commercials [here]. I'm curious about what everyone else thinks. Have you seen these ads? Do you understand what they mean by "Dress Normal?" Would love some insight.
Thanks for reading.