Hipsters are an enigma – understanding the subculture requires study, and recorded history has its limitations.
Science and extensive research have led us to believe that sometime in the early 1980’s a bearded hobo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn took his coffee black, local, and requested that it never be served in a paper cup. This Hippie groomed Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s, (before they did that NFL commercial, and sold out, man). This was the beginning of nu-bohemia. This man was the proto-Hipster; Hipster-Zero. I would say John Lennon on Hey Jude was close, but he was just crazy.
Today, in homage of that mystery man, Hipsters follow three unequivocal truths. I call it the Holy Hipster Trinity, a hat trick of defined purpose and social placement. These three laws of “all things not-yet-trendy” are absolute, and wholly subjective to each other while being fundamentally unique on their own. They are the holy triumvirate of irony; separate yet equals, and all one collectively.
You, the reader, may display traits from any or all of these three laws on your own. But fear not, for you are no Hipster. A Hipster would never have clicked on the title link in the first place. Let us begin to understand the trinity, and with it, the truth…
Hipsters are revered, feared, and even loathed for their obsession with selvage skinny jeans, thrifty tees, denim shirts, summer scarves, knit beanie caps and wide brim glasses. They are known for transferring the innocuous into the everyday.
A rather large subset of Hipsters wear flannel, display an overly developed since of rugged masculinity and or femininity and proudly display body modification, both in the permanent and semi-permanent form. Beards are excessively popular among Male Hipsters, as are tattoos. However, there does not seem to be a correlation between Hipsters and/or the amount of facial hair or body art that they adorn themselves with, (case and point every member of Grizzly Bear).
Fashion to the Hipster is about authenticity. It’s about being singular and unique, and not wholly tied to the grand authority that commercial success and corperate mega brands have gained through globalization. The irony here (see number 3) is that many of us assume all Hipsters look the same, or at the very least, follow the same fashion guidelines as the other gentrifiers in their up-and-coming neighborhood. Herein lies a problem for the not-hipsters – when the Hipster mind collectively decides the Chuck Taylor sneaker is the article of choice, it creates a mainstream brand in principle. It may not be collectivism or trend setting to the hive, but the masses know no different. Ironic, isn’t it.
The next cornerstone in the holy hipster trinity is the sonic footprint. Hipsters break away from traditional stereotypes and “Big-Box-Bands” like AC/DC, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Nickelback or the radio’s spin-it-till-you-get-sick-of-it rock n’ roll. In some of my study, Hipsters revere the classic rock of days past, and even speak highly of the legends. But they aren’t going to the Wolf Trap to see Dwayne Allaman slam on his organ, because thats entirely too mainstream.
There is a huge underground with so much originality, it’s easy to get lost in it. Even Hipsters have a hard time keeping up. The easiest way to tell if a band is a Hipster band is to ask a simple question, have they headlined at the Verizon Center, if they have, they are not a Hipster band; at least, not any more. There are no defining characteristics in Hipster Music, save the exclusivity, and general authenticity, both reminiscent of #1 and #3 respectively.
Plain and simple, Hipster Bands were good. It’s really that simple. The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie, Fun., MGMT, and even Eddie Sharpe have reached mainstream success, and become trendy. Even Neutral Milk Hotel is playing the Meriwether Post Pavilion! Hipsters are good at sharing new and upcoming bands with millions of men and women through every cracked screen and filtered pixel of their Instagram and Twitter accounts. This leads to the inevitable decline of their own tastes. Hipster Music isn’t as much about substance as it is timing.
There really is no singular part of the trinity that outweighs any of the others. However, if there was one aspect of hipping that was widely understood, this would be it. Our subjects usually live in transitioning neighborhoods that are often thought too dangerous for the mainstream masses. Or, their homes are “just to far to get too” for the tourists (e.g. Bloomingdale, and H Street NE). However, this transition has often led to Government-led Gentrification, and that in turn has led to that neighborhood’s trendiness.
Why is that? Because Hipsters tend to gather collectively, spend large amounts of money, and do so locally. This leads to isolated commerce, and an influx of local cash that attracts and breeds corporations, looking for more of it. This all leads to taxes. Hipsters, in essence, are the creators of their own self professed nomadic lifestyles.
As a bonus – in my research, I found that a prototypical Hipster is often just as much of a fatty, as he is a foodie. Irony demands that the commercially dejected be the first to know the best cocktails, pie, steak, organic market, hamburger joint, hot dog stand, or dive bar. There really is no correlation between hipsters and food – save its locality, and general authenticity, see number 1.
However, there is a correlation between Hipsters and canned beer. One might have argued that Hipsters were the first to cultivate craft beer. Perhaps the trend to cans is another transition. Soon the masses will all be like the Hipsters, and our fathers, sipping cheap swill from an aluminum can. I would wager it’s more about saving a buck than it is about being authentic. However, aluminum is easier to recycle than glass, and environmentalism is a staple in almost all Hipster covens. Nevertheless, there does seem to be a certain pleasure that a pair skinny jeans finds in the cold embrace of a Genesee Cream Ale or PBR Tallboy. The scientific reason for this behavior is still being analyzed by Top Men.
Hipsters operate in a world devoid of mainstream outlets, which allows them to communicate as a hive mind through obscure social media inlets and general word of mouth about “places they are over” – places that you probably just heard of. Hipsters gathered there months ago to drown the sorrow in Deuce Deuce cans, or Liter Steins and have moved on to the next hidden gem. Like bands and restaurants, there are no such things as Hip bars; they are known simply as bars that used to be frequented by Hipsters.
Fundamentally, Hipsters enjoy irony.
This, like any other law of hipping is not weighed above any other. It’s the Holy Hipster Trilogy, as close to Star Wars Episode 4-6 as you can get, assuming of course you treat Jedi like a red headed step son and sleep through the first 45 minutes of it.
Its pretty commercial, and that’s what killed the franchise.