What’s wrong with hipsters?

You see a lot of them in London. Shoreditch and Hoxton are where they’re most prevalent, but Hackney, Soho, Camden, Islington and Fitzrovia can all boast plenty. Even dear old Wandsworth has been invaded. Find anywhere with an art school and you’ll find a few of them hanging around. If you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about hipsters.

Now, hipsters get a lot of stick these days. As subcultures go, they’re more reviled than goths, geeks and hippies combined. But what exactly is a hipster? This is where people seem to run into trouble.

A hipster, it seems, is someone who takes pride in being different from the crowd. Nothing wrong with that, surely? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be seen as an individual? Ah, hold on, looks like I missed the point. The point is that the hipster is someone who takes pride in the difference itself – difference is what they cultivate. The problem arises from the fact that the difference manifests itself in the same clothing , hair and affectations as every other hipster, resulting in a kind of uniform. And the pride manifests itself in smugness.

The ire towards hipsters is not derived from the fact that they are eclectic and different, so much as that they think they are eclectic and different. Ironically, if someone genuinely was eclectic and different, they probably wouldn’t be classed as a hipster.

The look is fairly easy to identify – NHS glasses, lumberjack shirt, skinny jeans, keffiyeh, maybe some sort of woolly hat. And stupid hair. Basically, if you see a haircut and think, “That looks stupid,” you’ve probably found yourself a hipster. There may be a scraggly beard attached, if scraggly is even a word (I don’t think it is). If you trawl Topman, you can probably catch several.

Interestingly, the reputation of the hipster as less “trend setter/social rebel” and more “rich, middle-class, self-important, unoriginal snob in uniform” means that now, about the most insulting thing you can say to a hipster is that they are, in fact, a hipster. By labelling them a hipster, you effectively call them exactly the opposite of what a hipster desires to be. Some commentators have even gone so far as to suggest that by their very existence, hipsters have destroyed the meaning of cool.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but I do think the hipsters may be an interesting (although it goes against the hipster way to admit to being interested in anything) by-product of globalisation. With minor variations, hipsters may be found all over the world (as the Independent article above notes). As so many of the major clothing stores are multinational if not worldwide, there’s no need to hipsters to mix and match to achieve a look – they can buy the whole thing down their local high street. Head into Top Shop or Uni Qlo or – if you’re poor – Primark or H&M.

Primark. I think my image researcher may have made a mistake.

Basically, Westfield should see you alright. Interesting fact: Uni Qlo is a Japanese term derived from the English “eunuch clothes.” [NOTE FROM LAWYERS: No it is not]

So what’s the solution? Well, if you want to be unique and different, try actually being unique and different. Try enjoying what you like, rather than what the Internet and adverts tell you you should like. Wear clothes that suit you that you picked out yourself – instead of going for a charity shop look, try going to an actual charity shop. Listen to music you’ve found that you like, and if it goes mainstream, well, that’s just a sign of your good taste.
Also, stop wearing those plastic glasses, you look ridiculous.

Further Viewing
Being a dickhead’s cool, apparently. Thanks to Sazzi for alerting me to this.



Filed under Arts, Camden, Fashion and trends, Hackney, Islington, London, Music, Only loosely about London, Shopping, Shoreditch, West End

19 responses to “What’s wrong with hipsters?

  1. Unknown Fan of Cthulhu

    I could almost see myself as a hipster. Anything that’s really popular(Lady GaGa, for example) is the worst thing ever for me. I wear whatever I think decent, read scary books(which people find immensely disturbing, don’t ask me why), watch scary movies, and listen to music that is not well known(Arcade Fire, Metric, Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson, etc.). Am I a hipster? I’ve never been called one. I’ve been called weird, crazy, a freak, twisted, creepy, scary, morbid, depressing, and the one that seems to come out the most is emogothpunk. Yup, all in one sentence. But I’ve never been called a hipster.
    Oh, and anyone who calls me one will be placed within a story in which they’re eyes are scooped out of their skull and fed to them.

  2. Ash

    I don’t really concern myself much with different cliches. But I will look things up if my friends mention them. Unfortunately for all the people who have a go at hipsters or any sort of sub-culture I just think ‘what is the point? What is the point of you talking like that, writing that bollocks?’ When I stumble across people actually ‘hating’ on a certain group of people for little reason I really do sigh. Hating on a group with misconstrued ideas (which they more than likely picked up from the masses) is the most boring and trendy bloody things to do. You’re trendier than hipsters. I’ve never even seen a bloody hipster, but I see plenty of people “hating” on random people. It bores me to the teeth.

    • TGW

      Yeah, your claims of being bored and unconcerned would be a lot more convincing if you hadn’t written a huge paragraph about them. But then, if you hadn’t written that big long rant, no one would know how cool you are. It’s tricky, isn’t it?

      • Tom

        I wasn’t going to comment, but this was too good. Well done, you put a smile on my face.

  3. elle

    whats the difference between indie and hipster?

    • TGW

      Damned if I know. I think it’s a question of degree.

      • Caro

        …at least back in the 90s (note nostalgic tone lol), many indies used to care about things a little more, even do a little bit of activism and stuff. All subcultures get swallowed by the system sooner or later, the flesh eaten off the bones till there’s only the sellable carcass left. But hipsters *are* a product of the system: a ready-to-buy, over-packaged carcass…

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  5. Steve

    Unknown Fan of Cthulhu Have you been called a annoying bell end before?

  6. Ell

    It seems that the internet is composed of two groups; supposed ‘hipsters’ who desperately want to be original, and ‘anti-hipsters’ who claim that (by not following ‘trendy’ cliches) are actually the REAL rebels.

    Both are fairly pathetic. But what I don’t get is, why you care? So what if young people want to dress fashionably and hang out with others of their generation? Why does it threaten you so much?

    If you are so enamoured by ‘real people’, why don’t you go hang out in a shithole pub in Sheffield?

  7. Caroline Zillmer

    It is a normal thing with globalization of young cultures, and very double morals. Hipster is mainstream now, kind of a style everywhere. But for those like me, that finds this style very double, they should stop complaining about this style and think about other styles that here “modern” in the past time, there will and will always be people that comments on new things they have seen. When we all get older and this “hipster” thing maybe isn’t popular anymore, he newer generation will appreciate how the old days looked like and starting commenting and giving negative critique to the new thing the current time has to offer. Man in the 70’s saying;”oh, those hippies!”. Me today saying;”They were so cool!” Maybe I just find this hipster style double, but anyways; the thing is that everyone one has something to complain about in the time they live in. I should, we should remember to enjoy the time we live in, so we can say to the children in the future that we really lived here. It kind of makes me think of the movie “Midnight in Paris”, that tells you to enjoy the time you live in. It’s a evil circle, everyone says;” the old days were better”, and people in the old days said the same. There are we supposed to go back, to the time of the black plague or something! Newer times offers new things and at some point many experiments.We are still experimenting with things; like fashion, teknology, trying to make solutions, they will work, may not… Still if everyone didn’t enjoy the time they lived in, there will be made no solutions. It isn’t perfect, but focus on good things, still try to make bad things better, and ignore harmless things that enoys you!

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  10. joetoronto

    Not sure what a hipster is but I know there’s definitely something wrong with whatever that is in the first picture.

    My God man.

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