Hipster Olympics

I’ve been researching quite a bit about the “hipster” population as of recent, due to a new client. Has to be one of the most fascinating subcultures out there, due to the shear fact of their affect on both fashion and pop culture in such a short amount of time.

In a nutshell a ‘hipster’ is the following:

‘via Adbusters, see HIPSTER:THE DEAD END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, dusty haddow.

People who embrace the pseudo-artistic image and have strong attitudes and opinions toward, design, music, and urban culture. They believe in  “counter-culture” environments, artists and thinkers. They tend to be a little grungy, and spend 20% of their money on just “hanging out” at dive bars and going to music “shows.” Hipsters are always in pursuit of independent, DIY, non-commercial, and/or non profit choices in consumption in any and all aspects of lie. They highly value listening to indie rock or any form of non-mainstream music, thrift store shopping, eating organic, vegetarian, drinking local beer and/or PBR and listening to public radio.

Here is a diagram:

We have all been talking about the deadness of the culture, the emptiness of the music, the feeling that there is a lull — and the hope that it is a lull before the storm. One part of that is the lack of potency and radicalism in the ‘alternative” culture.

Let’s take our discussion not a a chance to rag on what exists, but our explorations of a subversive culture that is so desperately needed.

Take a stroll down the street in any major North American or European city and you’ll be sure to see a speckle of fashion-conscious twentysomethings hanging about and sporting a number of predictable stylistic trademarks: skinny jeans, cotton spandex leggings, fixed-gear bikes, vintage flannel, fake eyeglasses and a keffiyeh – initially sported by Jewish students and Western protesters to express solidarity with Palestinians, the keffiyeh has become a completely meaningless hipster cliché fashion accessory.

The hipster keefiyah:

In addition, the American Apparel V-neck shirt, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Parliament cigarettes are symbols and icons of working or revolutionary classes that have been appropriated by hipsterdom and drained of meaning. Ten years ago, a man wearing a plain V-neck tee and drinking a Pabst would never be accused of being a trend-follower. But in 2008, such things have become shameless clichés of a class of individuals that seek to escape their own wealth and privilege by immersing themselves in the aesthetic of the working class.

This obsession with “street-cred” reaches its apex of absurdity as hipsters have recently and wholeheartedly adopted the fixed-gear bike as the only acceptable form of transportation – only to have brakes installed on a piece of machinery that is defined by its lack thereof.

Lovers of apathy and irony, hipsters are connected through a global network of blogs and shops that push forth a global vision of fashion-informed aesthetics. Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs and sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties. The hipster tends to religiously blog about their daily exploits, usually while leafing through generation-defining magazines like Vice, Another Magazine and Wallpaper. This cursory and stylized lifestyle has made the hipster almost universally loathed.

“These hipster zombies… are the idols of the style pages, the darlings of viral marketers and the marks of predatory real-estate agents,” wrote Christian Lorentzen in a Time Out New York article entitled ‘Why the Hipster Must Die.’ “And they must be buried for cool to be reborn.”

With nothing to defend, uphold or even embrace, the idea of “hipsterdom” is left wide open for attack. And yet, it is this ironic lack of authenticity that has allowed hipsterdom to grow into a global phenomenon that is set to consume the very core of Western counterculture. Most critics make a point of attacking the hipster’s lack of individuality, but it is this stubborn obfuscation that distinguishes them from their predecessors, while allowing hipsterdom to easily blend in and mutate other social movements, sub-cultures and lifestyles.

Adbusters #79
“If you don’t give a damn, we don’t give a fuck!” chants an emcee before his incitements are abruptly cut short when the power plug is pulled and the lights snapped on.

Dawn breaks and the last of the after-after-parties begin to spill into the streets. The hipsters are falling out, rubbing their eyes and scanning the surrounding landscape for the way back from which they came. Some hop on their fixed-gear bikes, some call for cabs, while a few of us hop a fence and cut through the industrial wasteland of a nearby condo development.

The half-built condos tower above us like foreboding monoliths of our yuppie futures. I take a look at one of the girls wearing a bright pink keffiyah and carrying a Polaroid camera and think, “If only we carried rocks instead of cameras, we’d look like revolutionaries.” But instead we ignore the weapons that lie at our feet – oblivious to our own impending demise.

We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.’



27 responses to “Hipster Olympics

  1. this is right on point

  2. Thank you. This is brilliant.

  3. Gee, I know so many people like this.. I didn’t know it actually had a name. =|

  4. Lol benine, I didn’t either. Living in NYC they’re all around and I just considered them trendy…and I hate trends. They try to be different but at the same time they’re following everyone else. I like some of their style(I myself like UO and AA) but when they add too many accessories it just looks like they’re trying too hard.

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  7. you forget to mention that the bi sexuality is a requirement, not an option LOL

  8. This is the most brilliant assessment of hipsters I have ever read. Spot. On. Kudos!!!!!!!

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  11. Have you ever tried riding a fixed gear bike in traffic without brakes? It is pretty insane no matter what your skill level!!! And a lot of urban fixed gear bikes actually sport a flip flop hub with a free wheel on the other side. The only thing more insane than riding a fixed gear in traffic with brakes is riding a free wheel in traffic without brakes!!!

  12. Wow, hilarious and accurate

  13. wow!
    I’ve never looked at it like that before.
    But its so true…

    And if we are the last generation.
    Then what is next?

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  15. a moment of defence for the poor hipsters, is it not true that absolutely EVERYONE thinks they’re the ones that are trail-blazers? they’re the ones that are so against the mainstream? the fact is, now adays no matter what you do, what music you listen to, what you wear, you are somebody’s mainstream. People just like attacking the hipster because they’re generally to lazy or scrauny to beat you up.

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  17. added reference to the title article. there was just adbusters linked before, wasn’t clear.. thanks for bringing to attention..

    cheers mate.

  18. this description makes is sound like sooo much fun! i wanna be a hipster now! omg that sounds totally gay but whatevs

  19. um the scarf keyyefia or what ever is actually called a shamagh. i have two of them but i use them in the winter to keep my neck and face warm. i dont see it as a fashion accesory. i know my spelling sucx lol

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  22. Is culture truly exhausted? Has culture hit a dead end? Does this feel like the last days of Rome? People have cried “Armageddon” since the dawn of time so I can’t rightfully cry it without it feeling a bit ill-conceived. However, I do see the lull in society. Seems like nearly every design is some kind of play on existing design. Or, in the case of fashion, literally fashions not worn for awhile are dredged up and resold for a second time. Maybe this is the stagnation we will be stuck with for (at least) awhile.

  23. Mmmm I found this quite interesting… I was looking for the word “Parliaments” and this came up LOL! I used to love this hipster style… but now that is so commercial…. I just pass…

  24. This article is amazing, and represents just about every trendy misguided alternative mid 20’s (early 30’s if its really bad) fuck in the city I live in. The ironic thing is, they think they are being different, but in reality, they are sheep just like the rest of our culture!

  25. killerdiller

    fabulous observation. the appearance of sincerity and depth, to mask our “culture so detatched and disconnected”.

    dont know whether to laugh or blush.

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  27. weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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