I’m fascinated by the idea of normcore—ubiquitous fashion that, as Fiona Duncan writes in her insightful piece for The Cut, manifests itself in ardently ordinary clothes.
“It’s not about being simple or forfeiting individuality to become a bland, uniform mass,” explains [Emily Segal of the trend forecasting firm K-HOLE]. Rather, it’s about welcoming the possibility of being recognizable, of looking like other people—and “seeing that as an opportunity for connection, instead of as evidence that your identity has dissolved.” Normcore isn’t about rebelling against or giving into the status quo; it’s about letting go of the need to look distinctive, to make time for something new.
And ultimately, normcore allows wearers—including NYC style-setters who were once set apart from the masses by their Acne and Isabel Marant, as Duncan quips—to connect across social boundaries. “I think one of the most important takeaways from Normcore, beyond adaptability, is empathy,” another K-HOLE analyst explains in a Bullett Media blog post. “The whole basis of our practice is about being able to address more than one community. We aim to be legible in art, market, and individual terms; that’s to form relationships.”
Categories are interesting to anthropologists. They are the “buckets” into which we organize the world. More exactly, they are the buckets with which we read the world. We have a bucket called “bird.” Inside that is a bucket called “Robin.” As spring approaches, we see winged creatures on our lawn and the buckets leap to the ready. Robin! Bird! Spring! This is culture in action.
From this point of view, Pinterest is a treasure. It’s a chance to see American culture as if from a glass-bottom boat. Yes, some of it is a little reductive. But sometimes what people stuff into the categories is a chance for us to see exactly what they mean. Pinterest is a little Rosetta Stone, a table of equivalencies. Oh, so that’s what YOU mean by home. Here’s what I mean. In a culture that flowers with an increasingly diverse variety, this is useful.
I should probably write my own commentary instead of posting quotes all the time, but hel-lo, I have a research proposal to write! Actually, I have two research proposals to write. Ouch.
Mark Bittman in his New York Times op-ed piece "Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?", a fascinating read about the way — and the why — Americans eat
An aside for my advertising friends: Katiy Woolard, a j-school alumna and a strategist at Now What Research in Boulder, taught me one way to find consumer insight is to identify a tension, two deep truths at odds with each other, around the subject at hand. Could be a tension between consumer perception and consumer perception. Could be a tension between a social norm and consumer behavior. Could be a tension between a social norm and brand behavior. A company, brand or organization can come into that tension point and find a solution, something that reconciles the opposing ideas.
The New York Times op-ed presents a clear tension between the chore of cooking at home and the fun of dining out. That leads to a consumer insight a brand or even an advocacy group could leverage: Cooking healthy food at home feels like work, but grabbing fast food is a treat I can always afford.
This week’s Iconowatch e-newsletter pushes the why of Millennials’ addiction to social media, smart phones and technology as a whole.
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