Thursday, September 25, 2014

Addendum to: Avant-Bland versus Normcore!

In response to the last post about average-looking clothes being all the rage nowadays, our friend Ben down in Australia mentioned a supportive magazine article I want to share with you tonight.

Entitled "You Say You Want a Devolution" by Kurt Anderson, the article appeared in Vanity Fair in 2012, and early on sets the stage as to why Normcore and Avant-Bland might have arrived on the scene in the first place.

Anderson's premise is that fashion, music, architecture, even interior design have become stagnant, and have changed little during the past twenty years compared to the explosive, revolutionary changes in the twenty-year period before that, and the twenty years before that.

His entirely plausible explanation is that during these past twenty years we've all become so addicted to our laptops and notebooks, to our smart phones with their endless apps, not to mention a multitude of social media, that we're focusing less on individual creativity and style these days. With all of us being so busy, we have willingly yielded to major corporations like Ikea, Old Navy, and the Gap to tell us how to live and dress. In our online distractions, sameness has seemingly taken over and radical change has more-or-less been rendered dormant. This is, of course, welcome news to those corporations who don't want their cages rattled.

In Anderson's words, "The things we own are more than ever like movie props, the clothes we wear like costumes, the places we live, dine, shop, and vacation like stage sets." 

Beyond fashion and design, the article goes even deeper into music for example, saying that Lady Gaga is nothing new or original, just an update and replacement for Madonna, and that Adele has simply replaced Mariah Carey.

All said and done, it's not a far leap to understand how Normcore and Avant-Bland fit into the overall premise of Anderson's argument.

It's a fascinating eye-opening article and if you have a few minutes, here's the link to "You Say You Want a Devolution". You'll not find it disappointing.

Thanks again, Ben, for remembering it and bringing it to our attention.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Avant-Bland versus Normcore!

I don't know about you but all of a sudden my somewhat-drab and dreary wardrobe is back in style, perhaps even considered high fashion in some circles nowadays.

The trend toward bland average-looking attire - whether from an upscale department store like Bloomingdale's or Nordstrom, or from the big-box stores like Walmart and Target - is suddenly all the rage and no doubt causing some concern among fashion designers world wide.

The buzz words 'Normcore' and 'Avant-Bland' are all over the place to describe this new fashion phenomenon. Of course, it's yet to be determined if these are real and sustainable trends or if it's just some kind of imaginary hype and babble from the low-end manufacturers and retailers. In either case, there's a subtle difference between the two terms to begin with.

Normcore seems to refer to our everyday blue-collar work attire (the Jerry Seinfeld look), plus the creative street wear that young people come up with all the time.

Avant-Bland on the other hand gives the appearance of Normcore upon first glance. But closer inspection reveals it to be a high-fashion design from a well-known designer, cleverly disguised and jumping on the current, trendy bandwagon of Normcore.

My friend Linda in New York is known to show up at the TV studio where she works in jeans and tee shirts from Old Navy, and a pair of sneakers.

Miss Helen is known to run around her chic Washington neighborhood in old designer jeans and a pair of comfortable but scuffed-up black high heels.

Since the divorce things have gotten more lax around here and I myself show up for work in 501's, sneakers and a polo shirt - but from Brooks Brothers, I might add.

So what are we? Normcore or Avant-Bland? How about a new fashion category altogether: 'Just Shut Up'.

The whole issue will probably settle out as merely another semantic battle between the haves and have-nots, a temporary consumer rebellion against the ruling 1%.  But I think the have-nots are gaining some ground here - which is to say, it's okay to be Normcore in this life, regardless what the Fashionistas have to say.

Thanks for dropping in tonight.