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Trend Report: Normcore


For spring/summer 2015, the fashion world is embracing simple, functional luxury – a style that German brands have long understood, says Gwyneth Holland

Gwyneth Holland portrait
Gwyneth Holland ,

The fashion world is shifting from individualistic, statement dressing to embrace a look that’s quieter, simpler and more ‘normal’. It’s a term that would have horrified designers and fashion fans a few years ago – but ‘normal’ is now the last word in style.

Since 2014, the fashion world has been a-flutter with the coining of a new trend – normcore, a wry term for a way of dressing that focuses on a pared-back, no-label look. According to K-Hole, the New York trend forecasting agency that came up with the term, ‘Normcore seeks the freedom that comes with non-exclusivity. It finds liberation in being nothing special, and realises that adaptability leads to belonging. Normcore is a path to a more peaceful life.’

Simpler, more practical and less showy ways of dressing are here to stay. Normcore has now been gleefully co-opted by the fashion industry at large to denote a deliberately simple style with few embellishments and a focus on comfort – a style at which German brands from Adidas to Hugo Boss excel.

Quiet confidence
At the spring/summer 2015 shows there was a distinct lack of flashiness on the front row. Even among the fashion peacocks and street-style stars who have taken to gathering outside the catwalk venues, the key trend was a simple, comfortable and subtle aesthetic. The message seemed to be that the truly stylish have no need to show off – the quiet confidence of a few simple, well-selected garments is enough to demonstrate their style smarts.

This theme continues throughout the spring/summer 2015 collections as designers from New York to Paris focus on a feminine yet practical way of dressing. Flat shoes, midi-length skirts, wide trousers and clean lines are everywhere, with sporty streetwear touches adding a casual air to even the sleekest garments.

Stop chasing the trends
Acclaimed Parisian label Céline is helping to boost the appeal of norm-chic dressing, through designer Phoebe Philo’s deceptively simple – and hugely covetable – pieces. Philo recently told the audience at the Vogue Festival in London, ‘I hope when women wear Céline they feel confident and strong … I have no problem with a woman wearing anything as long as she has chosen to wear it for herself.’ And that subtle confidence is clearly resonating with fashion fans: Céline-like simplicity has been embraced by many designers and has become popular among high-street brands, with restrained colour palettes of black, white, navy and brown dominating the rails at Zara and Cos.

At the same time, classic pieces such as trench coats, Breton-striped tops and lace-up shoes are regaining their high fashion status, as women increasingly dress to please themselves, rather than chasing after trends. As a result, jeans are back in the fashion spotlight, along with trainers – and flat shoes in general – while the endless adaptability of a sleek pair of black trousers or a denim jacket are making them must-haves.

The high-fashion take on normcore emphasises clean lines, beautiful fabrics, wearability and function. Leading German brands have long understood the importance of mixing wearability with high fashion, seen in the elegant utility practised at Strenesse as well as the bold simplicity of Escada.

Vintage androgyny
Jil Sander has always been a key proponent of the minimal, thoughtful luxury that’s currently dominating the fashion industry. Now under the creative direction of Italian designer Rodolfo Paglialunga (formerly of Vionnet), the label’s signature clean, luxurious look perfectly encapsulates the spring/summer 2015 trends. Inspired by the androgynous look of 1930s Swiss writer and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, the new collection pairs sleek oxblood leather skirts and shorts with clean lilac or pale blue shirts and knits, alongside gently gathered cotton blouson jackets.

At Hugo Boss, Jason Wu brought angular prints and a clean colour palette of black, white, blue and taupe to his utilitarian collection of minimalist suiting, crisp shirt-dresses and plain short-sleeved shirts, all paired with flat sandals. The collection’s unassuming confidence perfectly reflects norm-chic style.

And it’s not just on the catwalk that German brands are owning the new laid-back look: with Puma and Adidas trainers on the feet of trendsetters worldwide and the kind of sleek accessories produced by brands such as Bree adorning arms across the world, it looks as though German style has become the new normal.

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