Forget normcore. Meet babycore, the clothing trend's juvenile counterpart
The normcore trend may have put your more fashionable friends in dad jeans and heather gray last year. Now, thanks to a New York artist, the same friends may soon be dressing in adult-sized versions of 90s infantwear.
Matt Starr, a 26-year-old new media artist, reckons he has pioneered “babycore”. Inspired by normcore, he and his “conceptual designer” roommate Bryn Taubensee have re-created Starr’s favorite Gymboree threads “stitch for stitch” in adult sizes, including a giant version of his Osh Kosh B’Gosh romper suit.
“I think it’s a lot about that carefree sense of style, but also sense of attitude,” said Starr of the clothes’ appeal. “Everything is always so serious.” He adds that his work was also partially inspired by his mother, who told him he was regressing: “She said, ‘Matthew, most adults don’t dress like babies’.”
However, Starr eventually reveals that the work’s real intention was to critique branding and marketing. “[The inspiration] was more of the absurdity of labeling something, and have it become such a powerhouse idea and represent something that didn’t need representation.”
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The Indiana University graduate’s previous work has attracted interest from the fashion community. His installation Diet in the Safari Gallery in New York’s Soho was sponsored by DKNY and saw everything – from treadmills to cigarettes to condoms – emblazoned with the namesake word.
Starr says that it was a comment on how making something “diet” and removing its calorific heft makes it more successful, much in the way the New York downtown arts scene has never been more popular despite a current lack of substance compared with its 70s heyday.
Starr hopes to grow the babycore concept into giant size “playroom”, and said he’s had interest in the concept from several companies and talkshows. However, he is adamant that the work has nothing to do with the “adult baby” sexual subculture.
Nonetheless, internet commentators have looked upon Starr’s latest work with a measure of disgust and amusement – much to the artist’s delight. “It means people are taking it really seriously.”
“Every time a new 90s trend comes back we’re forced to assess whether we’ve gone too far,” wrote Hannah Ongley for Styleite. “However, there’s only a 0.01% chance (never say never) I’ll be buying into nostalgia’s latest step backwards.” Others described the clothes as “worrying”.
Though he has also posed in a Louis Vuitton-branded nappy, Starr says that he is a conservative dresser in real life. In many photos he is wearing a standard white button-up or a nondescript wool blazer. “I wear very normal clothes,” the artist concluded – more normcore than babycore.
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