Hipsters: Fetishizing The Authentic?

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Some people have it. They really do. Those people are the pioneers amongst us. Let’s take, for instance, the first person to have revived their grandpa’s holey old argyle jumper and really rock it, probably alongside leggings made from bin liners and their gym shoes. Swiftly enough, the more perceptive fashionistas caught on to this, in addition to all the quirkiest retail stores who sought to reproduce the look for an extortionate price, authenticity not included.

With the popular movement towards an androgynous, understated ‘hipster’ style dressing, young adults have begun to turn away from brands such as A&F and Hollister- and thank God for this; the stores resemble the darkest dungeons of the French Bastille. The Top 40 no longer speaks for almost-everyone when they proclaim Katy Perry to be talented. It has suddenly become cool to be literary enough to insert an apostrophe correctly.*

Incidentally, this cultural movement has been satirised quite a bit, the main concern being that the basis of hipsterism- ‘individuality’- has been made a part of mainstream culture, consequently making the whole notion of it self-contradictory. I could not care less. In my view, this whole anxiety is the result of people taking themselves too seriously in their noble quest for perfect individuality; an endeavour which, let’s be honest, is hapless. No one is completely individual…not even the cool kids on Brick Lane. Most of your own interests and preferences are inevitably based on external factors.

Let’s take a couple of mine, for instance. I love rucksacks. Rucksacks are unpretentious, spacious, and kind to your back. I plan to triumphantly elude the chiropractor’s office for many, many more years, because of my personal choice to use a backpack. However, it is also significant that backpacks have, in the past year, enjoyed a fashion revival. It is now socially acceptable to sport the bright yellow Eastpack that you owned in high school. So, do I like rucksacks because of their practical perks? Or am I using those reasons as a justification for my slavish adherence to this fashion?

Dually, I have had a long love affair with the music of Bob Dylan. My first introduction to Dylan was in my father’s car at the age of seven, where I heard All Along the Watchtower. It absolutely blew my mind; the lyrics were so much more concrete and poetic than anything I had ever heard before. But why have I chosen to stress this interest, over and above my respect for contemporary artists like Kanye West? Is it just because it is just so much more individual to be into ageing rockstars?

I don’t think it matters. For whatever reason, it gives me personal satisfaction to prefer certain styles, and listen to certain music. The benefit of hipsterism is that it makes people feel more comfortable about veering away from what was once the norm. If you think this is complete bullshit, then just remember that the word ‘hipster’ was actually derived from the West African word ‘hipi’ (‘to open one’s eyes’).

Ultimately, hipsterism as a movement has a lot going for it. What would you rather see in your streets:

Vibrant East London style?

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Or the cast of Eastenders?

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The only problem is when people use ‘hipsterism’ as the exclusive way to define them, and consequently this becomes restrictive; when someone would rather die than admit to enjoying the flood of feel-good factor that comes from listening to One Direction songs. It stands to reason that the most individual thing is to be honest about your own interests. For hipsters, ‘everything about them is exactingly constructed to give off the vibe that they just don’t care’- Time, 2009. But have a go at actually not caring. That’s even better.

*personally, I am thankful for all these developments.

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