Dov Charney, CEO of American Apparel, claims “the stereotype of a hipster is not something people aspire to anymore”. With Charney’s hipster attire empire facing collapse, is the age of the hipster finally over? A contemporary subculture emerging in nineties youth culture and next ubiquitous for the next decade, the term ‘hipster’ was coined in the 1940s to describe middle class white youth seeking to emulate the lifestyle of black jazz music. Ginsberg even used it in his 1955 poem Howl, “I saw the best minds in my generation destroyed by madness…angleheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection.”
The term came back in the 90s when middle and upper-class white kids became associated with alternative music and hip-hop. Famed visual-couture culture magazine, Adbusters
, have even said that today’s hipster represents the end of western civilization, a culture so disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new. An article in the New York Times
this week asks ‘What was the Hipster’, suggests that the hipster is dead.
Defining a hipster is neiigh impossible as famously no one would ever identify themselves as one – the term almost becoming an insult in recent years. In July 2009 Time described hipsters as people who “sneer when you when you cop to liking Coldplay. They’re people who wear T-shirts silk screened with quotes from movies you’ve never heard of and are the only ones in America who still think Pabst Blue Ribbon is good beer. They sport cowboy hats and berets think Kanye West stole their sunglasses and everything about them is exactingly constructed to give off the vibe that they just don’t care.”
The ‘hipster-look’ sports retro and vintage clothing from previous decades, from the 50s right through to the 90s. They wear ‘ironic t-shirts and love to showcase their irony which usually comes from eighties nostalgia such as pac-man, and smurfs’. Facial hair spans porno moustaches to lumberjack beards. East London’s hipsters can be seen wearing predictable trademark styles such as non-prescription glasses, brogues, deck shoes, skinny jeans or flannel shirts.
The New York Times berated hipster culture for producing tattoo artists, instead of artists; people who used their arms, ankles and lower backs as their canvas; party photographers instead of photographers, from Terry Richardson’s flash aesthetic across to We know what you did last night.com
; a culture creating graphic designers rather than painters.
Modelled on the violence and rebelliousness of lower middle class ‘white trash’, hipsters drain the meaning of anything once iconic. Wifebeater t-shirts, trucker hats, tattoo’s and Parliament Cigarettes, once symbols of the working class are now shameless clichés of a subculture seeking to escape its privileged background by immersing themselves in the aesthetics of imaginary authenticity of impoverished.
Multiple books, articles and blogs have been produced over the last decade criticizing them, such as Stuff Hipsters Hate
, Look at This Fucking Hipster
and Hackney Hipster Hate
. The recent viral phenomenem ‘Being a Dickhead’s Cool
’ has seriously damaged the street cred of these hipster-types. A cringe worthy perception of today’s reality, the video succeeds as nobody seems immune to its criticism, everybody can relate to it in some way or another. So how can the hipster really be dead? Western civilization has run dry, youth culture maintains cool rather than creating it and therefore has nothing to give for cultural evolution. How to we break free of this endless cycle? The Ad Buster article claims that the kids need to “abandon this vain of existence and start all over”. Essentially, the hipster is a rebel consumer. Maybe they should start making their own clothes and find originality that way