• Arwa Mahdawi

Normcore started a horrible trend and not just for sensible

Since this term was created we have had goblincore, and even Covidcore. But this year has brought the worst iteration


Remember normcore? Back in 2014, a far more innocent time, a bunch of friends coined the term as tongue-in-cheek social commentary. It was supposed to describe a “post-authenticity coolness that opts in to sameness”. A journalist got wind of the word and published a piece describing the trend in rather more user-friendly terms – ie all the cool kids are wearing sensible shoes and dressing like Jerry Seinfeld. Suddenly, normcore was everywhere. New York magazine declared Pope Francis “our normcore Pope”. Vogue crowned the Duchess of Cambridge “the Duchess of Normcore”. Nobody seemed to really care what normcore actually meant; they just liked saying it. For good reason: it’s a strangely satisfying word.

Normcore eventually faded from the headlines but it didn’t entirely disappear. “-core” became the new “-gate”: irresistible linguistic Lego that you could attach to almost anything. Cottagecore had a moment. So did Regencycore, warcore, gorpcore, pearlcore, Covidcore, goblincore and mushroomcore. Blimey.


Long story short: there have been a bunch of rotten cores over the years. Almost too many to choose from, really. However, I have been staying au courant with the issue and I reckon I’ve found the worst iteration yet: “Kidcore”. According to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, that noted chronicler of the cutting edge, it’s very hot right now. Per the Journal: “Kidcore – a fad that sees adult men conjure their tweenage years with expressive, if juvenile, outfits – has thrived during the pandemic” and may be the big men’s fashion trend of 2022.

Well, I’m certainly glad something thrived during the pandemic. Still. Please can we cut the -cores already? Eight years is a very long time for a gag to go on. Even I retire my jokes sooner than that.

  • Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist

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