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This week’s segment will explore the contemporary hipster culture in America, which I’m sure the contemporary American hipster would find a total snooze. But for the rest of us who aren’t sure exactly what hipsters are all about, here’s a little peak in to what makes them tick.
A Time magazine article on hipsters written in 2009 summed up the hipster vibe pretty concisely, saying, "Hipsters are the friends who sneer when you cop to liking Coldplay. They're the people who wear t-shirts silk-screened with quotes from movies you've never heard of and the only ones in America who still think Pabst Blue Ribbon is a good beer. They sport cowboy hats and berets and think Kanye West stole their sunglasses. Everything about them is exactingly constructed to give off the vibe that they just don't care."
The term “hipster” itself is nothing new, having been coined during the jazz age, when "hip" was a popular adjective to describe aficionados of the growing music scene. Today, “hipster” refers to a subculture of young urban adults (usually late teens-30s) who take pride in their knowledge of independent music, their biting sarcastic wit, and their eclectic, non-mainstream fashion sensibility. The average hipster tends to be fairly well-educated, super-liberal, and an avid reader – favoring magazines like Vice and Clash, and websites like Pitchfork Media and Tumblr.
The term hipster was revived in modern times between 1999 and 2003. Hipsters usually enjoy the city scene and pop up in most urban areas, but the true mecca of hipster-dom is Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which was profiled by both the New York Times and Time Out New York in 2000 without actually mentioning the term hipster (the Times refers to them as "bohemians" and TONY to "arty East Village types," but you get the drift). By the time The Hipster Handbook was published in 2003 by Robert Lanham, the term hipster has already become synonymous with Williamsburg. The Hipster Handbook describes hipsters as young people with "mop-top haircuts, swinging retro pocketbooks, talking on cell phones, smoking European cigarettes ... strutting in platform shoes with a biography of Che Guevara sticking out of their bags."
Matt Granfield of HipsterMattic describes the hipster movement: "While mainstream society of the 2000s had been busying itself with reality television, dance music, and locating the whereabouts of Britney Spears’s underpants, an uprising was quietly and conscientiously taking place behind the scenes. Long-forgotten styles of clothing, beer, cigarettes and music were becoming popular again. Retro was cool, the environment was precious and old was the new ‘new’. Kids wanted to wear Sylvia Plath’s cardigans and Buddy Holly’s glasses — they revelled in the irony of making something so nerdy so cool. They wanted to live sustainably and eat organic gluten-free grains. Above all, they wanted to be recognised for being different — to diverge from the mainstream and carve a cultural niche all for themselves. For this new generation, style wasn’t something you could buy in a department store, it became something you found in a thrift shop, or, ideally, made yourself. The way to be cool wasn’t to look like a television star: it was to look like as though you’d never seen television."
The hipster subculture is a self-proclaimed highly selective group known for their anti-mainstream attitude, characterized by statements like "I liked them before they were cool” and the bashing of pop culture icons. So how can you steal the hipster style if you want to bravely attempt to fit in to a group that’s all about, well, not fitting in? While there are several popular labels that cater to the hipster fashion scene, including American Apparel, H&M, ASOS, CobraSnake, and Urban Outfitters, the true hipster know it’s all about vintage store shopping and independent retailers (hipsters find those big consumerist chain stores totally uncool).
"Skinny jeans" make the hipster look, both for males and females and hipster men tend to be as skinny as the women. However, guy hipsters actually probably wear skinny jeans more than the girls (girls prefer leggings/jeggings/treggings).
Alternatively, for women, high-wasted pants (aka: "mom jeans") may also be worn. For tops, hipsters are best known for their iconic tees, but may also settle for plaid shirts, cowboy shirts, or anything in gingham, plaid, checkers, paisley, or vintage florals if a shirt that captures their sarcasm isn’t available. Throw a fitted hoodie over it (doesn’t matter if it matches. In fact, it’s probably better if it doesn’t) and you should be just about good to go. Josh Hartnett (pictured left) is one celeb who’s not afraid to be hipster-chic.
To complete the hipster ensemble, you absolutely must have some ironic eyewear even if you have perfect vision. Acceptable styles include shuttershades, oversized plastic framed glasses, Buddy Holly glasses, nerd glasses, or authentic Ray-ban Wayfarers in bold colors (if you can afford it).
While your clothes may be a throwback to vintage style, your tech gadgets should be the latest and greatest shiny new toys from Apple, which you can tote around in your courier bag (definitely not a backpack, which is totally lame), preferably something from Freitag, on your way to your favorite café to surf the Net over mocha lattes.
So what do you think of the hipster culture? Love their fashion or leave it?