Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Analysis of Hipster Fashion: I

The Hipster.

The Hipster's origins are derived from a long line of fashion subcultures, including the Beatniks, hippies, punk rockers, grunge rockers, goths, emos and indie rockers. Although a fairly recent emergence, it is one that quickly has caught on in the mainstream public eye. Everyone knows a hipster, everyone knows the sub castes of the Hipster pyramid. For the Millennium generation, I think it's fair to say that the Hipster will be one of the most influential fashion movements during this time in history.

Although there is much along the lines of research to be conducted, I have the advantage of living amongst the Hipsters, their culture and access to hipster leaders in the industry. I think this endeavor is going to prove very interesting and topical.

Some Hipster sub categories:

The Vintage Hipster - this Hipster shops at the Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other reputable thrift shops scoring the racks for clothing from the 1980s (and sometimes, 1970s or early 1990s). You can recognize them by their donning of Cosby sweaters, large, wire-framed glasses, corduroy pants and boat shoes or loafers. For the girls, it is similar but spandex leggings, waist belts and pointed flats make the female equivalent. Some females will even go as far as to wear pouf dresses or metallics.
The Lumberjack Hipster - these Hipsters are commonly seen wearing flannel, no matter what time of year it is. Plaid flannel shirts along with slim, dark denim and converse sneakers, or other flat shoe are usually worn. This look is a combination of Punk and Grunge Rocker. Ray Bans are also a prominent feature. Think of any movie John Cusak has been in, his looks closely emulate the Lumberjack Hipster. Also have an affinity for neck scarves.
The Tight Hipster - wears the tightest of clothing, usually in the form of pants. Only works when the wearer is slim, but larger people attempt this look as well (and fall short entirely). Tight, mid-thigh length shorts (usually cut-offs), hunting vests, muscle t's and Keds, topped off with a trucker hat completes the most common look. Skinny jeans are also a staple, in sizes that cut off circulation from the waist down.The Neon Hipster - perhaps the most common of Hipsters, or should I say, the most common of Wannabe Hipsters, as this look is easy to obtain, pull off and discard when bored with it. Influenced by Kanye West's Graduation album. It's all about the sneaker with these Hipsters - the flashier, more colorful the sneaker, the more of a Hipster you are considered to be. Brightness is not limited to footwear - anything obnoxiously florescent is up for grabs, especially fanny packs.The Urban Outfitters Hipster - wears clothing bought at Urban Outfitters, but is largely vintage, folk or art-and-crafts inspired. These Hipsters spend hundreds of dollars perfecting their look, which could easily be replicated by cheaper means. But then again, that would take some effort to accomplish - the antithesis of the Hipster's demeanor.The "Carny" Hipster - Reminiscent of hawkers at a Mid-Western carnival. Suspenders, pinstripe pants, Doc Martin's, plugs, horn-rimmed glasses (prescription or non) and Fedora hats accompany this Hipster's apparel. These are usually the Hipsters that make heads turn. The hardest look of all to pull off, by far. Sorry, no free rides.
A universal characteristic of any Hipster is their lack of attention to hygiene. Unwashed hair, tobacco stained teeth, smudged eyeliner, body oder and unshaved legs are the order of the day. This allows them to create the wispy hairstyles commonly seen - a hand run through the hair and they're ready to roll. Many hipsters also possess a number of piercings, tattoos and colorfully dyed hair, dating back to their punk rock predecessors.

An interesting point to note as well is that technological trends often accompany the outfits of a Hipster as well. Mp3 players, touch screen phones, complicated watches, wireless headphones, and the like are important accessories for many Hipsters. Tripped out bikes are also trendy and eco-friendly.

Mind you, these are just some of the more common Hipster looks, which certainly several carry over to form combo fashions. My fascination rides on the idea of identity and what it means to be a Hipster, especially through clothing - are all Hipsters alike? Can a Neon Hipster be just as intellectual as the Vintage Hipster? Or are we judging a book by its cover, as fashion so forcefully causes us to do? Does fashion play out into any other part of Hipster Ethos?

Think about it. I'll be over here, playing with my Iphone.

(Photos courtesy of latfh.com)