Normcore—it was funny, but it also effectively captured the self-aware, stylized blandness I’d been noticing. Brad’s source for the term was the trend forecasting collective (and fellow artists) K-Hole. They had been using it in a slightly different sense, not to describe a particular look but a general attitude: embracing sameness deliberately as a new way of being cool, rather than striving for “difference” or “authenticity.” In fashion, though, this manifests itself in ardently ordinary clothes. Mall clothes. Blank clothes. The kind of dad-brand non-style you might have once associated with Jerry Seinfeld, but transposed on a Cooper Union student with William Gibson glasses.
—Fiona Duncan, “Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion,” New York Magazine, February 26, 2014
You just got gang signed by the worse of ‘em! Y’see the slight tilt of his chin, and the casual “hey” with the silent H? That means he’s normcore. Dangerously regular. Dresses only in T-shirts an’ jeans, uses slang appropriated from other sub cultures, but only 3 years after it’s first use, an’ only after it’s been used in a sitcom.
—Ryan Estrada, “Templar, AZ Guest Strip,” Templar, Arizona, September 17, 2008
The Urban Dictionary claims that normcore was "First featured as a fictional population in the webcomic Templar, Arizona." Based on that slim lead, I read the four years (!) of Templar, Arizona comics that appeared before March 27, 2009, but I didn't find any evidence of the word. ("Read" is, admittedly, too strong a word here. "Skimmed-because-hey-I-have-a-life" would be closer to the truth, so it's possible I missed it. If so, and you know which comic the word appears in, drop me a line: m a i l a t w o r d s p y d o t c o m.)
Update: A reader named Hugo has come through big time on this one, having discovered that the original use of normcore was not in the official Templar, Arizona archive, but in a "guest strip" created by artist Ryan Estrada. I've now updated the earliest citation accordingly. Thank you, Hugo!