This column is not about hipster culture

Pumpin' Irony

The first rule of Hipster Club is don’t talk about Hipster Club. Everyone knows how it goes: upon accusations of hipsterdom, any true hipster will put the brakes on his or her fixed-gear bike, look down through his or her perscriptionless plastic frame glasses and twirl his (or her?) ironic mustache and vehemently deny that such a thing is true. But I’m breaking the code of silence, and I’m admitting it. When called out on my ankle-choking torn-up skinny jeans, my paper-thin neon yellow shoes or my band-reference tattoos, I’ll say it loud and proud: I’m a hipster.

A lot of us suffer from hipster shame — it’s true. But why? Who wouldn’t want to be classified as something with the word “hip?” Maybe it’s because a lot of hipster culture itself is based on denial. Here’s the main thing we have to admit: nothing of hipster style is original. Most trends are appropriated from counter- and sub-cultures, yet we don’t give props where props are due. Other trends make us feel very seriously like we’re looking trendy, yet we insist that our all-year-’round Christmas sweaters are donned in complete scoffing irony. It’s a style full of contradictions — we want to look effortlessly glamorous and expensively trashy.

So it’s time to come clean with it: hipster style is ridiculous. The other week, I went to visit a friend in Brooklyn, and she met me wearing a homemade print-screened Rosa Parks shirt that I could have sworn I saw on the shelves at Urban Outfitters. It’s all done in irony, sure, but we still do it, don’t we?

And for what? Because we think — dare I say — we know in our heart of hipster hearts — that we have cool down to a science, and it practically is one. It’s a science of rebellion, appropriation and irony, and it keeps us looking — and feeling — super fly.

Despite today’s association of “hipster” with demographics like young, white and moneyed, many of hipsterdom’s most basic trends stem from symbols of rebellion. The cycle of cool goes as such: an oppressed or underground group rebels against the mainstream, and the mainstream reacts not in fear, but by picking and choosing what can be reinterpreted and remarketed as trendy and edgy. What started as dissent from fashion becomes fashionable again, as rebellion is associated with cool. This simultaneously makes this dissention from the mainstream innocuous by filtering it through the hipster trademark: irony.

Skinny jeans, once the symbol of the 1970s punk underground, find themselves pre-faded and ripped in stores. The colorful bandannas that gay men once used to find each other wearing in crowded bars hang around the hippest of necks and wrists. It’s suddenly cool to wear that T-shirt with the wolves howling at the moon, even though you made fun of that guy who sported it in middle school.

Don’t stop now, hipsters. You keep listening to that vintage vinyl player you found in your mom’s basement. Go on pretending you need those suspenders to keep your tightest pair of yellow pants on your hips. Just remember where all these things came from, because every time you add another pair to your collection of shiny metallic leggings, there’s an ‘80s dance movie begging for recognition.

You can reach this columnist at kcasino@theeagleonline.com.

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