“Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park, and Mission District neighborhoods of major cosmopolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco respectively. Although "hipsterism" is really a state of mind,it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses. Both hipster men and women sport similar androgynous hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs. Such styles are often associated with the work of creative stylists at urban salons, and are usually too "edgy" for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer. The "effortless cool" urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic. Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities. Consequently many hipsters tend to have jobs in the music, art, and fashion industries. It is a myth that most hipsters are unemployed and live off of their parent's trust funds.
Hipsters shun mainstream societal conventions that apply to dating preferences and traditional "rules" of physical attraction. It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainsream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty. The concepts of androgyny and feminism have influenced hipster culture, where hipster men are often as thin as the women they date. The muscular and athletic all-American male ideal is not seen as attractive by confident and culturally-empowered hipster women who instead view them as symbols of male oppression, sexism, and misogyny. Likewise, culturally-vapid sorority-type girls with fake blond hair, overly tanned skin, and "Britney Spears tube-tops" are not seen as attractive by cultured hipster males who instead see them as symbols of female insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of cultural intelligence and independent thinking. Hipsters are also very racially open-minded, and the greatest number of interracial couples in any urban environment are typically found within the hipster subculture.
Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals. For example, the surge of jeans made to look old and worn (i.e. "distressed"), that have become prevalent at stores such as The Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister, were originally paraded by hipsters who shopped in thrift stores years before such clothing items were mass produced and sold to the mainstream consumer. The true irony here is that many of the detractors of hipster culture are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. This phenomena also applies to music as well, as many bands have become successful and known to mainstream audiences only because hipsters first found and listened to them as early-adopters of new culture. Once certain concepts of fashion and music have reached mainstream audiences, hipsters move on to something new and improved.
Because of the rise of various online photo-blog and social networking sites, insights into urban hipster culture is reaching sheltered suburban audiences at an exponential rate. Cultural "norms" have been deconstructed by hipster culture as a whole. Hipsterism is often dismissed as just an image thing by some, but the culture as a whole is effecting changes in society, leading to feelings of insecurity and resentment in people who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class. For example, a lot of anti-hipster sentiment evidently comes from culturally-clueless suburban frat boy types who feel that the more sensitive, intelligent, and culturally aware hipster ideal threatens their insecure sense of masculinity. Anti-hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can't keep up with social change and are envious of those who can.
A conversation outside a hipster bar in downtown NYC:
Frat Boy #1: Dude, are you having any luck picking up chicks in there?
Frat Boy #2: Man...I haven't experienced anything like this before. These chicks are totally rejecting me and going for all these hipster guys in tight pants and shaggy hair instead.
Frat Boy #1: Maybe we should head back up to that bar in Murry Hill where you hooked up with that drunk b*tch from Alpha Sigma Phi last week?
Frat Boy #2: Yeah...I don't think we have what it takes to compete with these guys in here. These hipster chicks won't even give us the time of the day!”
“Definitions are too mainstream.
Hipster's can't be defined because then they'd fit in a category, and thus be too mainstream.”
“Someone who listens to bands you've never heard of, wears ironic tee-shirts, and believes they are better than you.
"Julian is such a hipster!"”
“A hipster is someone who is smart enough to talk about philosophy, music, politics, art, etc. with you all day long, but not smart enough to see how big of a tool s/he is. The only sure fire way to tell if someone you're talking to is, in fact, a hipster is to ask them "are you a hipster?". If they respond no, and turn their casette player back on, you can be sure you're dealing with a hipster.
Person 1: I met this really smart girl with a goofy haircut, but I think she has asperger's.
Person 2: She's probably just a hipster.”
What is a hipster?
What is a hipster? The answer to the ubiquitous question asked of the Millennial generation. Plus a travel manifesto for hipsters on why, where & how we travel.
WHAT IS A HIPSTER?
Everyone seems to want to know who/what/where is a hipster. There’s a trend to declare that there is no real definition for what a hipster is, though the word is used loosely by just about every publication imaginable.
What is a hipster? You’d be surprised. It could very well be YOU.
A hipster is an individual—one that usually fits within a certain subculture. Which subculture? It doesn’t matter. Because the definition for hipster is so very vague
In its most simplest terms, a hipster is an individual who wants to know things. Whether it’s knowing of a band before anyone else, or knowing about the conflict in Syria, the history of taxidermy or obscure words in 20th century Americana. A hipster is someone that’s eager to learn, to see—and yes—even to do. Being a hipster means you’re part of a subculture. As a demographic, hipsters try to set themselves apart from culture as a whole, while simultaneously remaining within the culture. This is nothing extraordinary for a subculture, and yet there’s a certain stigma applied to the “hipster” label.
The term, Hipster, has become used rather frequently to identify anyone that doesn’t appear mainstream. So hipsters stand out from the crowd. (Even if they fit into their stereotypical niche of standing out from the crowd.) Personally, “hipster” is just about the only label I’ve ever felt comfortable with. It’s a subculture so vague it can cover all manners of sins, styles and vices.
WHAT DOES A HIPSTER LOOK LIKE?
Hipsters wear skinny jeans and cargo pants, t-shirts and tank tops, trucker hats and no-hats. They drink wine, beer, gin & tonics, old fashioneds and Arnold Palmers. Many hipsters refuse to be recognized by that label or any label. And yet they’ll wear branded clothes. And yet many won’t. Are you starting to realize a trend here? Hipsters do one thing, and other hipsters do another.
Stereotypically (and really, what is any personified definition but a stereotype?), hipsters look like this:
Want to dress like a hipster? You probably already do. Anyone can be a hipster. Hipsters wear just about any brand you can imagine. Though really you’d generally associate Salvation Army, OxFam, Humana and other thrift & vintage shops as the shopping destination of choice for hipsters. Hipster fashion could include any type of label/brand from Urban Outfitters to something truly trendy and original—an indie designer perhaps.
Interested in traveling like a hipster? Check out my hipster city guides for destinations all over the world!
A TRAVEL MANIFESTO FOR HIPSTERS
WHY WE TRAVEL
We travel to see, to learn, to do and to think.
We travel to experience new things, find familiarity abroad and connect all the strange dots that make this world so unique yet so familiar. We travel to push our boundaries so we can learn what we want out of life, where we want to be and what we want to do. We travel to learn.
WHERE WE TRAVEL
We travel both far and near.
We travel to desolate islands and big cities, to far-flung places and to our grandparents’ houses.
We travel to tourist hotspots and to undiscovered travel destinations. Home is where we make it.
HOW WE TRAVEL
We travel with an open-mind.
We travel with enthusiasm and eagerness to discover the world we live in, this world of ours and of our neighbors. We travel with few preconceptions, with a desire to get lost and to maybe find ourselves during the process.
We travel to meet new people—other travelers and locals alike—those that can introduce us to new ideas, new things, new adventures. We travel with respect, compassion and understanding for others.
In Defense of Hipsterism.
Update: a rebuttal.
Hipsters aren’t all good-looking stylish superior trustafarian talented lazy party-addled self-doubting snobby multi-sexual artistes. Just the ones you read about, and Alex.
The media has a thing out for hipsters. And, frankly, hipsters have been asking for it.
But we got a problem here. We got a problem of definition: everybody who seems like a hipster denies being a hipster, which koan-ally is a sure sign of being a hipster.
I’m not talking about such hipsters. I’m not talking about style. I’m talking about function. I’m not talking about surface. I’m talking about inside, out.
I’m talking about the Original Hipster (what could be more hipster)?
The media doesn’t like Today’s Hipster. Everybody loves to hate today’s hipsters: they’re too-cool-for-school, they’re jerkfaces, they’re memes, they’re insecure wannabe sheeple wearing skinny jeans bought from department stores using mommy’s Amex.
But true hipsters? They’re artists, they’re entrepreneurs. They can’t be classified, goddamnit: they’re oddballs. They care about our environment (thus the old tee shirts and tote bags and buying less and direct-trade coffee, and enjoying it for-here)…which has never been cool, except for 2004-2005. True hipsters care more about quality of life and how they spend their dollars than being rich or getting things or shopping. The whole thing about trustafarianism? It’s so much harder to be truly yourself, weird and beautiful in your own way…so if you’re born in the wilting shadow of Rich and yet manage to be yourself, I applaud your hipsterism.
So remember: the original definition of hipster predates even Jack Kerouac’s angel-headed hipsters of the late ’50s, and goes back to the early days of wild, free, crazy, fully-feeling jazz.
The original hipsters were anything but cool: they were hot, vulnerable, passionate, wild…they went all-in on life…they let it blow (as Kerouac said) all the way.
The original hipsters studied Thoreau and Zen and the Bhagavad Gita and practiced yoga atop a shed atop a mountain atop Big Sur and cried and sang and drank too much and did all manner of things, because it’s impossible to catalog the activities of a group defined only by what it searches for, not what it has found. by its warm individuality, not its cold conformity.
~ @waylonlewis (on Instagram, man)
1. You prefer to (always) bicycle or walk or bus instead of driving your own 3,000 ton black-blood fueled chariot for your 100 to 200 pound body.
2. You read labels. Your eyes dilate when you see an organic certification, and narrow when you see “all natural!”
3. You don’t count calories. You count how many days a week you work out. And by working out, you mean “climbing” or “yoga” or “mountain biking” or “road biking” or “hiking”* or “kayaking” or “snowshoeing” or “skiing” or “snowboarding” or something human-powered, generally. You don’t like plugging in your bicycle and walking in the same place in sweatified, toxic, un-cocooned air.
4. You like formal, romantic, old school dates…but you arrange them by text. And, just as often, a date goes under the guise of “hanging out” or “doing something” like bowling, music, party (VIP party is a bonus), or the aforementioned *hiking (dogs = bonus points).
5. You drink coffee. You drink more coffee. You drink more coffee. You drink tea. You drink pu-erh. You don’t drink mate anymore. You don’t drink kombucha anymore. You don’t drink bubble tea. You do drink smoothies, and instagram them.
6. You instagram everything, because it’s the quickest way to water your social media streams while preserving your life for your future children while still having a life (because instagram enables you to auto-populate your tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter. You don’t have Pinterest).
7. You wish you could shop at Urban Outfitters but you don’t (everything’s made in China, see #2, and the place is GOP-owned by a Santorum donor)…except for that one time when…you went to walk your dog around the place because they’re dog-friendly and the men/women who work there are hot/style-inspirations and you don’t have an office, you work in a café so hashtag UO is a good place to get warm while you’re on your cracked iPhone and…you found a khaki hat that’s made in the USA. Instead, you shop vintage at Buffalo Exchange, or the true hipster valhallas: thrift shops.
8. You don’t want to get married because you love being single and you’re okay with loneliness but you want to get married when you have children.
9. You rescue dogs and cats and are vegan or vegetarian and you will not buy things you love because they’re not ethically-sourced and you definitely vote and you supported Obama way back in 2006 when no one supported Obama anymore (before he had a great enemy like Mitt and everyone came around) and you consider the farmers’ market with sun and local food and grounded farmers with beautifully worn hands like living mahoghany to be the the best place ever and you live downtown and live on your (mac, duh) laptop because you want to make millions of dollars for good and you have a big moustache or if you’re a girl long-cut straight bangs and put make up on the edges of your eyes like Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra or you wear bright, bright, bright colors or you eschew tattoos ’cause they’re so mainstream now and besides they aren’t vegan or you do other things I can’t think of because I’m not enough of a hipster, though I’m one of few hipster wannabes. Everyone else is too busy denying they’re a hipster.
10. You deny being a hipster. Your denial of being a true hipster involves saying “even though I…” many times.
28 Signs You’re A Hipster
1. You get mad when people post videos or articles about played-out trends on your Facebook wall, because people might actually think you still think things like the Harlem Shake are cool.
2. You often find yourself resisting the overwhelming temptation to say “their older albums were better” when people ask you if you’ve heard a cool new song.
3. You judge people for driving.
4. When you read articles about things like gentrification, you get a little knot in your stomach because you know, on some level, it’s referring to you and your friends.
5. That still isn’t going to discourage you from moving to Harlem and/or Bushwick.
6. The most exciting thing that’s happened to you in recent memory is a Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods opening up in your neighborhood, and you kind of don’t care how many row houses were evicted and demolished to put it up.
7. Several of your friends are bartenders at hole-in-the-wall bars, and at least one of them frequently says things along the lines of “Beer is the new wine.”
8. You know what a barista jam is, and have possibly been to one/dated someone who went to one.
9. You get pissed at your local coffee shop for not knowing what a “flat white” is.
10. You have gotten so into cycling that the majority of your disposable income now goes into buying new gear for your longer rides and parts for your bike.
11. There is rarely a dinner conversation that goes by where you don’t mention the fact that your city does not have nearly enough combinations for cyclists, and how frustrated you are with the city council’s inactivity on the subject.
12. You actively choose to wear glasses that you know don’t flatter your face just because they’re big and obnoxious.
13. If you’re a women, you wear crowns of flowers with your outfits as though that is somehow a thing normal human beings do.
14. You get really into things like wine and tea even though you don’t really care about them, simply because you want to know a lot about it and be “the wine guy,” or “the tea guy.”
15. You live in an awesome apartment that your parents pay for even though you have a job yourself, because using your own means to pay for it would mean downgrading.
16. You are a part-time DJ.
17. You constantly refer to bars and restaurants as being “too pedestrian” or “too full of tourists,” even if they are not at all a tourist spot.
18. You have an iPhone, yet can’t afford basic groceries.
19. You constantly bum cigarettes off of people while out drinking yet claim that you “don’t smoke.”
20. You feel the need to reiterate how much you would not eat the junk food or fast food that someone else is eating while they’re eating it.
21. You own a pair of pastel Doc Martens.
22. You participate in Movember year-round.
23. Your profile pictures look like they were shot and art directed by Terry Richardson.
24. You own at least one coffee table book with vaguely pornographic art/photographs.
25. No matter what is going in life, no matter what you’re facing, you always magically have money for drugs.
26. You talk about how much you hate American Apparel, yet all your clothes look like they came from there.
27. At least one your profile pictures is you smiling with a bunch of impoverished children in Africa/South America/Southeast Asia.
28. You try to re-thrift your thrift shop clothes, and are rejected because they fall below Goodwill standards.
Why the Modern Definition of “Hipster” is a Problem
Funny word, isn’t it? I had never heard the word until I entered college. I still remember that moment.
“What’d you say?” I asked my hallmate. “What’s a hipster?”
“Well uh, they hate mainstream things, shop at thrift stores, ride fixies, things like that. You know what I mean?”
“Oh yeah, sure. I guess so.”
But did I? The qualities he listed right then and there sounded like a few people I knew, but I never knew them to be “hipsters.” I didn’t ask my hallmate for any more details. Instead, I added the semi-defined word to my own mental dictionary. “Hipster…huh.”
I found that it was a word that I would continue to hear from that moment on. I heard it being used around my college campus, among my friends (myself included) and I even heard it used at home by my 12-year-old sister.
What is a hipster?
The definition of hipster, and the context in which the word was used varied every time I heard it. Is there even a universally accepted definition of the word?
Merriam-Webster defines hipster as “a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns (as in jazz or fashion).”
Urban Dictionary states that hipsters “value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.” This definition portrays hipsters as a relatively cool group of people.
I would argue however, that society today doesn’t base the word hipster off of these two definitions.
The word has evolved.
The hipster first came to be in the 1950’s and was identified as a counterculturalist movement that went against mainstream consumer norms of the middle class at the time. However, according to Wired Magazine, the new millennial hipster is characterized as a “gullible, target market who consumes cool, rather than creating it.”
Hipster is used in two ways.
The term hipster is used to define and stereotype how a person looks. Imagine a person wearing a beanie, with large framed glasses, maybe a beard, a flannel shirt, vintage or thrifted clothing, skinny jeans, boots, and so on. Similar to how there is a surfer look and a preppy look, there’s also a seemingly defined hipster look.
The term hipster has also become a popular label for people who consume non-mainstream products or pursue non-mainstream activities.
Frequenting a non-corporate or independently owned coffee shop might be described as “hipster.” Partaking in any form of art is often met with the same reaction. The notion of not going with the flow or being different for the sake of being different have come to characterize the millennial hipster.
Regardless of its use, there is a stigma associated with the word hipster. Being a hipster is not often regarded as something to be proud of. Rarely do you hear, “You’re so hipster” met with “Thanks! I appreciate it! That means a lot!”
When used, the term hipster is often accompanied by a negative tone.
Questions such as “Why are you such a hipster?” and “How’d you get so hipster?” carry critical and disapproving tones.
Statements such as “Oh my god! You’re so hipster!” and “Teach me to be a hipster like you!” carry mocking and sarcastic tones.
Why has the hipster gained such a negative stigma? Why are we critical of those who choose to pursue things outside the norm? And why is it assumed that a person may be pursuing something because they want to be different? Could it be that they maybe, possibly actually enjoy that pursuit? The more I heard the word being used, the more I found myself asking those questions.
The main problem of using the word.
I’ve been called a hipster on various occasions since coming to college due to my interests in photography and visual arts. Now, I have never been moved to tears when labeled as a hipster but I admit that it has made me question myself as well as my interests and hobbies.
I knew that my friends who had jokingly used the word meant no harm, but I couldn’t help but feel that the manner in which the word was used suggested otherwise.
The overall message that these statements convey is that “You can be different, but not too different. You can be interested in art, but only because you want to stand out, not because you actually enjoy the arts.” There seems to be a line that shouldn’t be crossed, but we forget that these lines are created by our own judgements and opinions.
Because there isn’t a universally accepted modern definition of hipster, the word has developed into an umbrella term used to label anyone exhibiting specialized interests. Most people you ask will give you some descriptive adjectives but rarely do you hear a confident, clear, and concise definition for the word “hipster.”
Get off that linguistic crutch.
“Hipster” has become a fallback descriptor that is used everyday without consideration of what it really means and without considering what effects these phrases really have.
Imagine your friend comes to you seeking your opinion regarding something and you initially think “that’s so hipster,” ask yourself if this phrase truly embodies what you really want to say. Did they show you a product of a new hobby they picked up? Were they sporting a new article of clothing? (One that they might’ve been nervous and excited to showcase?) Did they tell you about a new book they’re reading?
Before you label someone as a hipster, think about the implications that the word may have on others. Take a second and decide if “hipster” is truly the word you wish to use. If it completely embodies your opinion, then go right on ahead, but don’t use the term as a default. Voice what you really intend to say. It could be the difference between your friend pursuing a new passion or abandoning one for being too “hipster.”