Trying to figure hipsters out

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A new tendency has recently emerged. In this tendency each one considers him self independent in some or many aspects of his life: an independent thinker, some one who’s independent in his profession; independent regarding artistic, cultural or musical interest, some one who’s independent in political beliefs and his interests in environmental engagement and protest affiliations.

Who are they?

Ana Lalinde © Solkes

Very often particular and different from everyone else; some one who’s also independent in his or her wardrobe and the trending accessories or the type of design that surrounds him or her. This person refers to himself: hipster. That’s the reason why we have developed a tendency to use this term. We use this word and often we don’t even know what it means.

We just know that it implies an entire culture. That it is not only used to refer to a certain group of people, most of them young, from certain ages, certain social groups (in Colombia) and most of all certain conditions.

They are alike as in every group but we also use that term to talk about places, spaces, all type of plans, settings and urban fashions that are characterized by flashy and colorful outfits and accessories. Most of all, this term is used as all the expressions that have been designed to delineate all sort of groups: hippies, punks, yuppies, junkies, among others, to call a particular lifestyle that characterizes a specific moment in history.

A subculture

The hipsters are a subculture group. In sociological terms means that they are not a predominant cultural group but they are an innovate cultural proposal that arises from the massive cultural groups –mainstream- that in a strict sense means the principal stream.

Nessa Twix © Solkes

This meaning focuses us in this group’s reality. They go against stream or better on, they create their own stream. They are not rebels per say. They do have a different sensibility and they are continuously looking for an alternate style of life in each and every way. They are independent, autonomous and liberal in action and in thoughts, inevitably they make us thing about The Hippies from the 60’s.

Neo hippies of the new century?

Aren’t the hipsters the neo hippies of the new century? Rather, they are more like similar cultural groups in the manner in which they propose new alternatives and different ways of thinking that have achieved an undeniable legacy through out the generations that witness their birth and develop. They also have in common the desire of independence from every thinking stereotype and every movement but their origins and ideologies tend to be different.

In fact, the hipsters support their independence a lot in mass media. A quite criticized element by the hippies who wanted to live away from the influence of the media.

Nessa Twix © Solkes

They try to honor their independence principle because in the 40’s the term hip was used to talk about musicians who liked and or knew about independent jazz. While the first hipsters are said to exist since the 40’s, the concept has transcend in time and these days it is not only used to talk about musical trends.

The actual hipsters have taken this independence far and beyond any expectation and we can certainly say that they are independent thinkers.

Many of them have chosen to work as freelancers and to have an independent income that’s why they usually choose to work in independent fields such as graphic design, advertising and marketing. Fields where they can be creative and free minded.

They like a little bit of every thing and every style

They are also free in fashion trends and they don’t tie to specific colors or stiles, they like a little bit of every thing and every style. Perhaps the only style that defines them is their particular interest about vintage stuff. They dress up and are characterized by bringing back into fashion some elements from different time periods that have been forgotten in Grandma’s trunk.

In their personal images and looks they tend to adopt styles from this same vintage tendency. Men, for example, use mustaches a lot and they spend many hours pampering and styling them. They have mustaches as the ones that were fashionable many years ago, like the Nation’s Heroes or Great Emperors.

This element, the mustache, is very relevant because it began to become a kind of icon that characterizes this group.

It can be said that it is the hipster’s graphic image. It is printed in different graphic and advertising material and used in all type of accessories not just for men but also in feminine accessories; accessories that women wear proudly. The mustache as a gender independence symbol; a type of independence that also characterizes this group. In theory, there are not sexists, chauvinists or feminists, they just believe in the independence character and being independent from all sorts of stereotypes including the male or female condition.

In transportation matters their favorite one is the bicycle, a transportation method that suits their beliefs perfectly. The bike is environmentally friendly and helps dealing with pollution but also let their spirits fly free as they like. When they are riding their bikes they are free from congestion, traffic jams, car restrictions. They have no time or space restrictions and they are also free of having to take a specific route or to find it necessary to take some massive transport where they usually think that they loose their essence in between the crowd.

Nessa Twix © Solkes

The places where they hang out are also too different”. The thing is that they combine in them unalike elements where the independent design is always the main ingredient. They create colorful scenarios where modern objects are perfectly combined with vintage trends and they also have different spaces and moments for relaxing.

It’s not like they are too sportive or extreme, that they are nature activists or activists from any particular cause but yet they like to have a harmonious and calm life style. This life style is characterized by avoiding mass branding consumption, combination of different elements and styles from all sort of trends thus creating their unique style.

They have their own festivals. They organize music festivals, independent designers and artistic fairs and they also tend innovate in showrooms. Therefore, some brands have been designing exclusive marketing strategies focused and targeted in this group.

Ana Lalinde © Solkes

Hendricks, the gin brand for example, has been designing a whole new strategy of independent events and gatherings that are called secret room where they secretly have gin tastings, brand activation and different sort of activities for exclusive groups that are usually associated with the hipster tendency.

Searching for independence

However, a few questions arise. If they are a group that is characterized by trying to be far from the mainstream tendencies why do have they increased the massive use and consume of all kind of products? If they are independent in their artistic preferences why are their music festivals filled with all the trending artists? If they fight so fiercely for their independence, why are they the largest fans, followers and networkers of all social media?

Perhaps all this is part of their search for independence and of their identity reaffirmation. A healthy one, harmless for everyone, it is unlike those who seek their identity through violence. This mixture of elements and criteria is an important part of the blending of styles and tendencies that they propose.

Ana Lalinde © Solkes

The hipsters are, as we can see, much more than a cultural group. They are much more than a tendency or a fashion.

They are a visual concept. They are a whole brand image; they are a brand in themselves.

They are an interesting, colorful, pleasant and different group that feels good about their selves and there fore they look good and feel good.

It feels so good to see them exercising their independence and their free will in a world where it seems like the personal opinion looses its importance every minute and where personality seems to be replaced for a pre-established trend that someone wanted to impose us all as we were fragile cattle.

Translated By: Juanita Bernal Sanint

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