Friday, August 21, 2009

Hipster: Friend or Foe?

OK. So these pictures have NOTHING to do with this entry. I just like them.

My main goal in my Human Ecological journey....
No. Scratch that. My pipe dream when I'm done school is to work for some awesome forward thinking Canadian design company (I lean towards technical outerwear, but anywhere awesome would be amazing). After a few years I would like to open my own store, based around the idea of clothing for good people- clothes that don't suck. Ethical, environmental, stylish, and fun. That may or may not include designing a line myself, it may simply be finding a few lines which make me smile and offering fit tailoring and a personal shopping experience with the price of the goods. (To clarify: I think most "sales associates" are worthless, I think a personal shopper trying to meet your needs and be your slave for an hour is priceless).

Since Fashion is kindof a big part of having a clothing store, I feel the need to address the idea of Hipster. A friend of mine (Clever Monkey... my special special friend who I love and adore but often disagree with) has recently blogged about how she bites her thumb at the hipster trend. The style (bright, eclectic, geek chic, ironic, scarf laden, and weird) that goes with the attitude (pretentious, haughty) is what she addresses. She also mentions that most are in vehement denial of being a hipster.

Flashback: Im 18, I've just come back from South America and mended fences with one of my best friends "L" who was sad at me for leaving her behind.... In my absence she has become this shellacked version of herself: the blonde is blonder, the flared pants are tighter, the belly piercing is still fairly fresh. And she utters the words "I'm not a Choch, I dress like a Choch, but I'm nice."

Choch was the late 90's Hipster... it was the dressed like J-Lo, clean cut favorite Friends character look. The application of a label to the popular style of the time is inevitable. With it, there is usually the generalization of the attitude carried by the worst and (sadly) most "popular" people who adhere to this style. As such, people who find themselves drawn to this style feel the need to distance themselves from the application of that label.

Who wants to be judged by appearances alone? Hipster= buying rich and weird clothes+expensive messy hair+ nasty attitude... It doesn't add up. A person is not contained solely in their clothes. I know that the people I go to school with who dress as "hipsters" are for the most part really awesome people. And I know that my dear friend L was and always will be an amazing girl, Choch or not... Why should someone eschew all popular convention just to impress upon the public that they are a nice person? Most people feel like the odd one out. Many do not have memories of being the cool kids in school, and the negative feelings of being on the other side of the fence tend to make people view trendy clothing as a signifier of not belonging, of how they differ from the crowd. So I think for many, popular=negative because of previous experiences with 'the cool crowd'. I disagree. Those who dress as hipsters are doing so 1) because they like the clothes 2) because the clothes help accent their personality 3) because most stores are trafficking clothes which qualify as hipster. Sometimes you buy what fits, what is available, and hipster is here. It's the Hannah M.ontana brand in, and everywhere from Urban O.utfitters, XXI, A.ritzia, it is difficult to locate a store which is completely void of Hip... (unless you go into places your Grandma thinks are cool). My theory is that a large population of hipsters are just trying to avoid nakedness....

The fear that the homogenized label will take away from a persons personal choice to express themselves causes many to delve as deeply as possible into the image- striving for wider and weirder breadth of Hipster. Because as the old adage says- go big or go home! In Orange County that refers to pool or breast size. In the 80's it refered to Flock of Seagulls hair or your lapels or pants pleats. In the 90's it referred to your rave pants, or how low your hiphuggers were. Now its thick geek glasses and skinny jeans. Instead of throwing stones, why not address ones own image and try to accent it to the max? Why not indulge in your appearance everyday? Why would you not want to appear the utmost YOU that YOU can be? Who doesn't want to belong, to mesh well with their chosen crew of friends? I honestly don't think its fair to take issue with the hipster because it is only a label, and the semiotic link to a negative attitude perception is really assigned by the viewer. If only reviewing the label of 'hipster' as a reference to the clothing style, then you are challenged to judge the person as a person... Like your mom would want you to. Additionally, since prejudging the hipster as a nasty group of rich trendsters is not very nice either, isn’t the whole concept a bit... hypocritical? What if they see you as a WASP, a jock, or a hipster wanna-be (ie: oh gosh you own a scarf). Why can’t we just all get along!?!

I have one pair of slim (not skinny) jeans, a few cardigans, and many scarves. My husband wants to buy some thick rim geek chic glasses. If that makes us hipster, or trendy sheep, or whatever... I can’t say I’m disappointed. I’m not heartbroken by it, because it means I am attuned to the current undercurrent of fashion, and I hope that I stay that way, since my livelihood depends on it. I think anyone who disregards an entire gaggle of people because of perceived attitude is absolutely absurd and prejudiced. People all fit into a genre, even if you buy into an alternative vein- be it Goth, Rock n Roll, or boring old Eddie Bauer chic, you fit somewhere, and to deny others the right to fit somewhere without a fair shot at being a nice person is absolute bullox. I dress for the most part in t-shirts and jeans, and thats not likely to change until I’m done school. I am drawn to many different avenues of appearance- I love the clean lines of J. Crew, I am an avid camper so cargo pants and tanks are also up my alley. I like tattoos and piercings and the punk look. I also think the hipster look is fun and eclectic, and easily achieved with second hand clothes... which I love! Perhaps I need to do a social experiment and track peoples behavior in each of these looks, and define myself by how much disdain or love I receive from people. Heaven forbid I be afforded the right to wear what I want to when I want to, and be awesome all the time.


  1. My purpose was to take the piss out of myself somewhat, since I am so self-involved I often forget that wearing pants in public is less about keeping the nethers warm and more about not scarring strangers with the view.

    I get that I'm viewed hipster-ishy. I was trying to distance myself from being the person devoid of anything but my clothes. I agree that the clothes don't necessarily make the person, but if you're so vapid that you're just a shell without a peanut well...then you need to take your black-rimmed glasses and tongue piercings to a library and read a fucking book.

    I love you too, even if we disagree. I believe our disagreements to be superficial and add flavour, as opposed to fundamental differences. Otherwise, there wouldn't be the love and the ovewhelming urge (one-sided as it may be) to make you my secret woman-love.


  2. Awwww. I have a blog crush. I'm touched.

  3. Oh boy, I'm old. I think I shop at the stores grandmother's would like. Although I can appreciate the whole cool, funky, scarf-laden look, I am not, and never have been, good at putting "a look" together. And to be honest, my two priorities in buying clothes are (1) comfort and (2) doesn't require dry cleaning. But then again, I'm over 40. I love those 20-somethings who take the time to work at looking unique. More than anything else, what I think clothing designers need to realize, is that women have HIPS (no, we are not all built like 16 year old girls) but that doesn't mean we don't want nice looking clothes. I don't want to buy polyester pants with stretchy waist bands. I really like low rise, boot leg jeans. But if they fit my thighs, they're HUGE in the waist. Also, having been a teenager in the 80's, can I just say, that s0-called skinny jeans (we used to call them straight leg) ONLY look good on girls who are size 4 or under. If you have hips or are bigger than a size 4, they make you look like a light bulb. Bleah. Not flattering. But, such is the nature of trends. People wear what is trendy, regardless of their size or shape. Which is why "belly shirts" were a disaster for the public when chubby pre-teen girls insisted on wearing them. Being trendy is great. Using your brain is better.

    Such is my 2 cents!