The Very Last Thing You’ll Ever Need to Read About Hipsters

Josh Becker reacts to Douglas Haddow's polemic on hipsters: "Condemning hipsters and their lifestyle choices is just as big an oversimplification...as, say, wearing a symbol of Palestinian solidarity as a fashion accessory."

Although we've posted dozens of articles on economics, politics and ecology in the past year, the piece that has garnered the most attention is all about hipsters. Here's another take from Josh Becker at nyulocal.com.

This Adbusters article from July, which signifies hipsters as “the dead end of Western civilization,” apparently still resonates with the Youth of Today, because college kids keep writing about it. Like this Smith College student who entitled her piece “Pop Rocks and Coke,” which is either an allusion to the explosive fashions at Urban Outfitters or, you know, a reference to cocaine. Because that’s what hipsters do! Cocaine and fashion.

I’m not picking on the author, and I agree that it’s time for all of us to officially retire the keffiyeh (except for Justin Timberlake, who inexplicably pulls it off really well). What I am arguing is that condemning “hipsters” and their lifestyle choices is just as big an oversimplification as, say, wearing a symbol of Palestinian solidarity as a fashion accessory.

Exactly what about American Apparel is “hipster” anymore? For that matter, when exactly did riding your bike or eating vegetarian food become as iconographic of “hipster subculture” as PBR and these guys? I went to Misshapes (more than a couple times), but I don’t ride a bike or drink PBR especially. Do I still count? Ms. Smith Student says that “trends cycle through hipsterdom like wildfire on acid,” which actually doesn’t make much sense, but I think I see her point. And I’d like to take it one step further – there are so many facets to “the modern hipster” that there is no such thing as hipster anymore.

Seriously. Maybe at one point, only a select few could pull off the American Apparel hoodie, but at this point its become so ubiquitous that it doesn’t mean anything at all. Sorry Dov Charney, but your brand lost its “hipness” around the same time you could fake your own Polaroid online. Which isn’t a bad thing!

But I think, with artists like M.I.A. and the widespread resurgence of the Converse sneaker show, that “hipsterdom” is no longer a subculture. It’s a style. And confusing the two undercuts whatever otherwise acute insight you may have into the matter. Nobody can seem to define what a “hipster” is anymore besides what s/he typically wears – but when everyone is wearing that same pair of leggings from Urban Outfitters, it’s safe to say the style has gone past that of a mere subculture.

Even our friend from Smith College doesn’t quite know what a true hipster is. “To clarify, when I say hipster, I don’t necessarily mean the 70 percent or so of Smith students who have an affinity for the aforementioned look. I too sport American Apparel. I mean people who truly subscribe to the subculture as a full-on lifestyle,” she says, which is the only time in the article she attempts to define “the subculture” any further. But the author doesn’t explain what that “full-on lifestyle” entails, and I’d challenge anyone to offer an adequate explanation that doesn’t involve reciting the Hipster Bingo board.

What I’m saying is that, yes, I do think we have witnessed the death of hipster subculture. Its oft-derided superficiality has, like most trends, crossed over into the mainstream. There’s nothing left to brandish, either fashionably or ironically. The clothing is the same, but there’s nothing uniquely “hip” about American Apparel anymore. To wit: the company is now in the news for exchanging lawsuits instead of style tips.

Or am I still a dirty hipster because I like The Knife?

Originally posted at Jess and Josh Talk About Stuff

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68 comments on the article “The Very Last Thing You’ll Ever Need to Read About Hipsters”

Displaying 41 - 50 of 68

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Jim

Hi, Correct me if I'm wrong, but to paraphrase you are saying that if people act altruistically and go "green' as a pretentious, superficial, or non-genuine attempt to gain social kudos and assume moral superiority in order to snort and kick mud at others, then your right. Because I believe that we should define a new conception of morality which recognises that any ‘altruistic’ behaviour is morally wrong when it prevents one from paying moral respect to oneself.

Jim

Hi, Correct me if I'm wrong, but to paraphrase you are saying that if people act altruistically and go "green' as a pretentious, superficial, or non-genuine attempt to gain social kudos and assume moral superiority in order to snort and kick mud at others, then your right. Because I believe that we should define a new conception of morality which recognises that any ‘altruistic’ behaviour is morally wrong when it prevents one from paying moral respect to oneself.

Anonymous

yeah to go back to the first article by douglas haddow, i've never seen a rapper say "hey i'm a rapper" either or a jock say "yes, i'm a jock, so what?". goths etc. i mean, you could make the same argument about anyone with any particular fashion similarities. i found the article contradicted itself very much and also found this article to be flat.

Anonymous

yeah to go back to the first article by douglas haddow, i've never seen a rapper say "hey i'm a rapper" either or a jock say "yes, i'm a jock, so what?". goths etc. i mean, you could make the same argument about anyone with any particular fashion similarities. i found the article contradicted itself very much and also found this article to be flat.

Anonymous

um. Hip-hop heads and rappers always embrace their culture, and rather flamboyantly. Seriously dude, get a clue. Same goes for punk.

Anonymous

um. Hip-hop heads and rappers always embrace their culture, and rather flamboyantly. Seriously dude, get a clue. Same goes for punk.

Marcus Kirsch

oh I loved the article, just as much as I love to rant on about hipsters or however you want to call them. But then one starts thinking, hey I been living around shoreditch, london for 8 years now. What is happening over here is actually that after the .com boom and the xplosion of bars and clubs in london's east, which happened roughly 8 years ago, shoreditch is now a tourism location. Which means we have an american apparel shop there now! The fashionable people from years ago moved further east, now having babies and dont dress hip anymore. What's on the street is the second or third generation of young people trying to dress like people in Vice magazine and Dazed and Confused. The point I am trying to make is one that has been made previously. The 'trend' is not a trend anymore. Puma, Nike, etc. are consciously re-producing classic style shoes and mix and match patterns and colors, American Apparel sells the stuff ready made as well as one can buy ready made damaged denims. The avant garde who bought old sneakers and cut holes in their trousers dont exist anymore. What we see is the mainstream trying to copy it by buying the same style in Topshop. The article seems to be years too late. The reason why today's people who look like 'hipsters'(I would call them fashion aware teens and twens) are superficial, is because they just went to a shop and bought the look. Years ago the same style was created 'homegrown' as a creative statement. The look is indeed as hollow as wearing a Che Guevara tshirt which is hollow because it's mainstream.

Marcus Kirsch

oh I loved the article, just as much as I love to rant on about hipsters or however you want to call them. But then one starts thinking, hey I been living around shoreditch, london for 8 years now. What is happening over here is actually that after the .com boom and the xplosion of bars and clubs in london's east, which happened roughly 8 years ago, shoreditch is now a tourism location. Which means we have an american apparel shop there now! The fashionable people from years ago moved further east, now having babies and dont dress hip anymore. What's on the street is the second or third generation of young people trying to dress like people in Vice magazine and Dazed and Confused. The point I am trying to make is one that has been made previously. The 'trend' is not a trend anymore. Puma, Nike, etc. are consciously re-producing classic style shoes and mix and match patterns and colors, American Apparel sells the stuff ready made as well as one can buy ready made damaged denims. The avant garde who bought old sneakers and cut holes in their trousers dont exist anymore. What we see is the mainstream trying to copy it by buying the same style in Topshop. The article seems to be years too late. The reason why today's people who look like 'hipsters'(I would call them fashion aware teens and twens) are superficial, is because they just went to a shop and bought the look. Years ago the same style was created 'homegrown' as a creative statement. The look is indeed as hollow as wearing a Che Guevara tshirt which is hollow because it's mainstream.

Agent83

In a way, I've always thought of the word "Hipster" as a compliment, why deride people because they're always looking for new music and new things, change is good... THE BAD aspects of hipsterdom (or should I say hipsterDUMB?) is the attempt to keep these new things a "secret" or raggin' on others who aren't "in the know".... I really don't get what is BAD about supporting American Apparel, they are a company who seem to have good ethics, no sweat shops, fair treatment of employees, etc., also, it seems hypocritical of an Adbusters article to rip on people for riding a bike, and eating vegetarian food...

Agent83

In a way, I've always thought of the word "Hipster" as a compliment, why deride people because they're always looking for new music and new things, change is good... THE BAD aspects of hipsterdom (or should I say hipsterDUMB?) is the attempt to keep these new things a "secret" or raggin' on others who aren't "in the know".... I really don't get what is BAD about supporting American Apparel, they are a company who seem to have good ethics, no sweat shops, fair treatment of employees, etc., also, it seems hypocritical of an Adbusters article to rip on people for riding a bike, and eating vegetarian food...

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