Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
Culture: American Gen Y / millenial
Setting: urban America early 21stC

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Croll 2014 p88
"The twenty-first century is ... responsible for what is possibly the most reviled subculture ever: hipsters.  Obsessed with authenticity, the stereotypical hipster denies being a hipster while simultaneously trying very hard to be cool.  A lot of this is simple fashion posing: hipsters are notorious for their skinny jeans, their plaid shirts, their thick plastic glasses, their leather shoes, their handmade or vintage finds.  The look easily made its way into the mainstream, and by the second decade of the twenty-first century commentators were laying flowers on the hipster's gravestone -- but with a subculture that denies its own existence it's tough to tell whether it's dead, or faking it."

* Young 2016 -212-213
"'Hipster' came to be used to describe middle-class kids who were interested in the alternative scene, whether that was indie or techno. As opposed to the yuppies of the 1980s, the modern hipster was less flashy and materialistic. They didn't spend their money on expensive cars and designer clothes, but instead bought the latest electronic products, cool vintage pieces and tattoos. Music and film were downloaded and TV series were streamed. While they used social media and online streaming, hipsters also paid tribute to analogue with cassettes, early 1980s gaming and an appreciation of vinyl. The Polaroid camera made a comeback as the original way to take a selfie, particularly with Instagram recreating the Polaroid photo look with hazy 1970s filters."

* Erlich/Bartz 2010 p11
"Forged in a fire fed by hippies (with their languorous nature, disdain for bathing and vehement rejection of their parents), punks (with their tight pants, appropriation and destruction of other cultures, and self-conscious snarls) and grunge kids (with their plaid shirts, sloped shoulders and wretched love lines), the modern hipster fumed angstily in his or her respective enclave, until, fueled by a special form of ennui bred from war, recession and the rise of the Twitter celebrity, they flooded the scene in full force around the end of the aughts."

* Lanham 2002 p8
"Hipster -- One who possesses tastes, social attitudes, and opinions deemed cool by the cool.  (Note: it is no longer recommended that one use the term 'cool'; a Hipster would instead say 'deck.')  The Hipster walks among the masses in daily life but is not a part of them and shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream.  A Hipster ideally possesses no more than 2 percent body fat."

* Greif 2016 p218-219
"Through both phases of the contemporary hipster, and no matter where he identifies himself on the knowingness spectrum, there exists a common element essential to his identity, and that is his relationship to consumption.  The hipster, in this framework, is continuous with a cultural type identified in the nineties by the social critic Thomas Frank, who traced it back to Madison Avenue's absorption of a countercultural ethos in the late sixties.  This type he called the 'rebel consumer.'
    "The rebel consumer is the person who, adopting the rhetoric but not the politics of the counterculture, convinces himself that buying the right mass products individualizes him as transgressive. Purchasing the products of authority is thus reimagined as a defiance of authority.  Usually this requires a fantasized censor who doesn't want you to have cologne, or booze, or cars.  But the censor doesn't exist, of course, and hipster culture is not a counterculture.  On the contrary, the neighborhood organization of hipsters -- their tight-knit colonies of similar-looking, slouching people -- represents not hostility to authority (as among punks or hippies) but a superior community of status where the game of knowing-in-advance can be played with maximum refinement.  The hipster is a savant at picking up the tiny changes of rapidly cycling consumer distinction.
    "This in-group competition, more than anything else, is why the term 'hipster' is primarily a pejorative -- an insult that belongs to the family of 'poseur,' 'faker,' 'phony,' 'scenester,' and 'hangeron.'  The challenge does not clarify whether the challenger rejects values in common with the hipster -- of style, savoir vivre, cool, etc.  It just asserts that its target adopts them with the wrong motives.  He does not earn them."


​* Young 2016 p211
"The modern hipster grew from the gentrified urban areas of Shoreditch in London and Williamsburg in New York, where predominately [sic] white middle-class groups of young people who worked in creative industry developed a self-referential, ironic way of dressing and being. While often seen as consumerist -- always searching for the new hot thing, particularly with technology -- they were environmentally conscious and supportive of independent businesses, with words like 'artisan', 'single origin' and 'craft beer' becoming stereotypical.
    "Generation Y lived under the shadow of war and terrorism and with this instability and social injustice, they sought comfort in the look of the past and an appreciation of nature, more so after the financial crash in 2008 and increased concerns around global warming. Tweed caps, waistcoats and beards spoke of rural, old-fashioned times. Hipsters wore lumberjack flannel shirts juxtaposed with feminised skinny jeans and King George V beards, like bands Mumford and Sons or Fleet Foxes with their folksy banjo accompaniment. In 2003 The Hipster Handbook by Robert Langham described the young people of Williamsburg with their 'mop-top haircuts, swinging retro pocketbooks, talking on cell phones, smoking European cigarettes ... strutting in platform shoes with a biography of Che Guevara sticking out of their bags.' This description sounds almost modish, but hipsters were more liberal in their thinking and green in their consumerism."

* Greif 2016 p218
"Above all, the post-2004 hipster could be identified by one stylistic marker that transcended fashion to be something of a fundamental as a cultural password: jeans that were tight to the calves and ankles.  As much as I've investigated this, I can't say I understand the origin of the skinny jean.  Why, of many candidates for fashion statements, did it become ubiquitous?  All that seems obvious is that it was an opportunity to repudiate the White Hipster moment, while still retaining the farthest possible distinction from the mainstream.  The skinny jean was instant and utter inversion, attaining the opposite extreme from the boot-cut flared motorcycle jeans of the White Hipster.  It proved the vitality of a hipster community.  It meant that the group impulse would hold, no matter how vertiginous the changes."

* Young 2016 p216-217
"Hipsters had a desire to find something unique and alternative amongst the acceptably cool. It was a look that was hip and forward, but also nostalgic. They borrowed from hippiesgrungepunk and hip hop and fused them together, in a melting pot of styles and trends. 'Instead of creating a culture of their own, hipsters proved content to borrow from trends long past,' wrote Time magazine. They dressed with an overstyled casualness in grungy check shirts and floral dresses from Urban Outfitters, brightly coloured v-neck t-shirts from American Apparel, Wayfarers, Converse all-stars and baseball caps. There was a trend for the bright, tribal prints of early 1990s hip-hop artists DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and Salt-N-Pepa, and the Wham 'Club Tropicana' look of the 1980s with colourful denim shorts, as seen with electrodash.
    "The idea of being the most authentic was also important, finding new 'undiscovered' places in the world to visit, as DJ and producer Diplo boasted of searching out rare sounds in Latin American danger zones. Being ironic became another signifier of the hipster -- they would appropriate something kitsch or considered bad taste, such as wearing a wife-beater vest or sporting a porn-star moustache, or a trucker cap despite having no connection to long-haul driving. By wearing something ironically, they were knowingly winking at its ridiculousness. 'Whether reinforcing sexism through the use of ironic rhetoric or questioning dominant culture, irony plays a distinctive role in how hipsters are perceived,' wrote Kristofor R. Vogel, from the University of Texas."

* Erlich/Bartz 2010 p62
"While most of America turns to fashion magazines to ascertain the next season's trends, hipsters would sooner die (a wholly unconventional death) than pick up an issue of Vogue or GQ for stylistic guidance.  You're not going to catch a hipster making inspirational collages depicting his or her ideal 'power outfit' or 'go-to date getup,' and hell will pretty much turn into one big-ass skating rink before a hipster takes one of those Cosmo quizzes that determines her 'personal style' ....
    "Why the reluctance to turn to Anna Wintour and Tim Gunn for fashion advice?  It's not that hipsters aren't into style -- on the contrary, they dust off long-forgotten accoutrements and set the trends that magazines report on (several months before those fallow fashionistas jump on the bandwagon) and you eventually adopt.  You see, the Converse and skinny jeans that most Americans are currently sporting recently adorned the malnourished bod of your average Williamsburg dweller.  Take, for example, the hipster uniform du jour: the plaid shirt.  This particular fashion has been kicking around since before there was an America to loathe, but hipsters were the latest set to make tartan a must-have for the masses."