My sister asked me the other day what exactly a “Hipster” was. In answering her, I discovered my thoughts on the matter were a rabbit hole much deeper than a Facebook “reply.”
It seems every ten to twenty years, in modern civilization, we see a Counter Culture FigureHead that defines a generation. The 20’s had the Flapper. The 50’s had the Rebel Without a Cause. The 60’s & 70’s had the Hippy. The 90’s had Grunge. And now…we’ve got the Hipster.
Wikipedia defines the Hipster as a “subculture associated with independent music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility, liberal or independent political views and alternative spirituality and lifestyles.”
When I was in a sorority, I remember having entire chapter discussions on how we didn’t want to be like all the other sororities, who were all, in our minds, “cookie-cutter” images of the same hair-flipping, tote-bag carrying Co-Ed Naked Stepford Wife, conglomerated into one big finger-snapping army. My favorite movie back then was Fight Club, who touted the idea that “You are not a unique perfect snowflake.” And it’s true, they weren’t. But were we? I think of this when I think of Hipsters.
For the Hipster, individuality is key. Living in a world of Walmart Eye Doctors and Starbucks on every corner, the Hipster has raged against such commercialism by finding the most obscure market choices possible and getting, like, totally into them. The Hipster looks at mainstream, consumer driven culture and asks “What’s the place you’d be least likely to shop? Cause I want to shop there.” Behold, the rise of Trader Joe’s.
When looking for the Hipster in their natural habitat, it’s important to keep an open mind. The male hipster is much more recognizable than the female, with his staple skinny jeans, his idiosyncratic facial hair and, perhaps most adorable of all, his puffy little knit cap. The female is a bit more difficult to peg; I’ve seen hipstresses in ballet tutus paired with Keds, and I’ve seen others dressed like Little House on the Prairie, so it’s pretty much a crap shoot. Androgynously speaking though, plastic rim glasses are common, as are suspenders, hoodies and oh, so many scarves.
Parenthetically, I have a small theory that it’s entirely possible the skinny jean is the Hipster’s antagonistic response to Sagging. Wikipedia places the origins of Sagging (http://www.wikihow.com/Wear-Really-Low-Baggy-Pants-Without-Losing-Them) as being adapted into men’s fashion from the US prison system, which prohibits belts. Sagging was, in itself a rejection of mainstream society. And now the Hipsters are rejecting it.
And hence, more and more of the things you were told were low-rent or un-classy in your youth are now popular. Pabst Blue Ribbon is experiencing a big comeback thanks to the Hipster. Beards are no longer the mark of the lazy and unhygienic, but an incomparable opportunity for self-expression. Thrift stores are the new Malls. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes
Perhaps moreso than most of their identifying characteristics, Hipsters are defined by their taste in music. The Hipster’s favorite band is Mumford & Sons. Well, actually…you’ve probably never really heard of the Hipster’s actual favorite band, but Mumford & Sons is also, like, totally legit in their eyes. But if you’re YouTubing Marcus Mumford right now, you’re barely scratching the surface of the Electric Bluegrass-roots twang-a-palooza that is the Indie Folk Movement, brought to you by the Hipster.
If it sounds like I’m making fun of them…maybe that’s true. But it comes from love. Hipsters are getting stuff done out there. They’re giving life to a struggling small business sector and encouraging the progress of DIY. But my favorite thing about hipsters? They’re destroying the idea that you have to wear or own something with a label in order to be cool. Anyone can be a hipster. I’ll try to remember that 20 or 30 years from now, all our teenagers are having Hipster Parties.