One would need a six-part miniseries to document how the word “hip” made it’s way out the African-American jazz clubs of the 1920s and into gentrified neighbourhoods—the preferred living communities of the modern-day hipster.
Hipsters are the offspring of Yuppies and Boomers who’s lifestyle pendulum has swung the other way. Golf shirts, chinos, mini-vans and big-box retailers have given way to plaid shirts, thick-rimmed glasses, pop-up shops and cold-pressed juices—at $15 a pop.
Whether you identify with them, mock them, or peacefully co-exist with them, hipsters are dotting the landscape and are impacting everything from culture to the economy. And we could stand to learn a thing or two about their tendencies, all for the greater good. Below are 9 habits of the hipsters that you may want to consider incorporating into your life …if you haven’t already.
1. There’s no artistry in polybagged sliced loaves found at a grocery chain nor a bonded-leather sofa found at a big-box retailer. And therein lies the reason why the modern-day hipster avoids chain and big-box stores. On the other hand, small-batch, handcrafted, artisanal anything with a backstory will capture their attention. This is good news for craftspeople, artists, and the local economy who offer much of what the hipster seeks in products. We all could stand to support the same.
2. Let’s face it, there’s nothing new about upcycling, the act of giving an item a new and therefore extended lifespan. Think of the Von Trapp children matching lederhosen outfits made from the living room drapes in the 1965 musical drama, The Sound of Music. However, the term “upcycle” began to gain traction in the mid-90s. Then in 2002 the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) brought the term into our vocabulary. Hipsters love upcycling because it’s an inexpensive and sustainable way to decorate. The rest of us should love upcycling for the same reason.
3. There’s a paradox in taking something new and making it look old, but alas, hipsters love irony. The demand for making-this-new-thing-look-old is so popular that you can walk into any Home Depot and purchase wood that’s been treated to look like sun-bleached barnwood. Or take for instance trendy retailers who are resurrecting the mid-century modern furniture style. Taking something old and making it look new can add character and originality …two characteristics that hipsters fancy themselves as having. And we get it, no two beards are trimmed alike.
4. Many hipsters dapple in or have an appreciation for the crafts of yore. Think of the growth in popularity of traditional crafts such as weaving, embroidery, and macrame to name a few. But at second glance you may have noticed that hipsters have upped the DIY crafting game. That embroidered handkerchief with your grandmother’s initials that was tucked into her purse may now be a piece of art depicting a rap lyric or cacti and left in its loop to hang on the wall. The good news for anyone creatively inclined is that inspiration, instructions and channels to buy or sell handmade things are just a click away.
5. Big-box stores, the purveyors of mass-produced goods offer things the hipster could use less of. After all, not everyone has room to store 40 rolls of toilet paper. Instead, hipsters prefer small retailers often found in their own communities. And when they don’t find what they want, they won’t hesitate to open up and run their own small shops, offering specially curated goods or services. Shopping small is essential to the vibrancy of your local economy and we all should lend our support where we can.
6. Once upon a time, second-hand items were considered the go-to option for society’s downtrodden. Today any hipster can point you in the direction of their favourite thrift shop. Besides being de rigueur for the hipster set, it makes good environmental and economic sense for everyone to partake in the second-hand economy.
7. It’s not that hipsters don’t care about traditions—although, it would be a rare sight to spot one picking out a 12-piece china place setting—but rather they’re just making their own. And that’s perfectly ok. Every generation adopts or creates traditions that suit them. Do we really need a formal dining room, matching living room suite or two-car garage? We need to continually question our want and consumption of things and adjust accordingly.
8. Commuting by bicycle, sipping fair-trade coffee and buying second-hand clothes. Hipsters didn’t invent any of these things but these are habits that we commonly associate with them. On a whole, as Ed Cumming writes in an article titled, Can Hipsters Save the World?, hipsters are “[m]ore conscientious and environmentally aware” than their parents’ generation. If you ever needed a reason to give a hipster a hug, I’ve just given you two. We could all stand to be a little greener and more aware anyway.
9. “Sharing is caring” may be the trademark of the Salvation Army that traces back to the 1950s, but it’s also one of the hipster’s mantra. Think of the popularity of car-sharing, bike-sharing, and even tool-sharing. Maybe hipsters are just non-committal or non-conforming. Either way, sharing in many cases, makes great economic and environmental sense.
Naturally, there are some critics of the hipster movement. Their migration from the suburbs to urban centres have displaced many long-time residents and increased rents in now gentrified neighbourhoods. And their tenacity to appropriate culture has caused some contention. Some would say that hipsters are less trendsetters and more resurrectors of what already exists. Whatever your view on hipsters, we can’t deny that their 9 habits illustrated here make good economic and environmental sense. That their habits are beneficial to the local economy, craftspeople, artist, and the second-hand economy (LeCaShe) is a good thing and something that we all can embrace …if we haven’t already.
What hipster habits are you practicing or are ready to adopt?