I mentioned hipsters the other day to someone who is much more tuned in than me, and he gently said to me. ‘Yeah, but the hipster thing is kind of gone now, isn’t it?’
And I realised that not only was he right, but we all knew this in some corner of our cultural subconscious collective mind. Though we possibly hadn’t acknowledged it fully.
Maybe the demise of hipster as a dominant mainstream cultural force was disguised by the pandemic. It was probably at tipping point before the pandemic, but maybe got a slight reprieve through lockdowns, when everyone grew a beard and started nurturing sourdough starters.
Or indeed, maybe it was the lockdowns, when everyone became some form of hipster, that killed it off for good.
This development leaves us with a number of questions.
Firstly, what happens to the real hipsters now?
I don’t mean your hipster-come-lately, who two years ago hastily grew a beard, got a tattoo and opened a coffee shop with a very basic menu on a changeable letter board. I mean the real hipsters, who were hipstering it up before it was a thing. I mean the ones who have devoted their lives to this philosophy and aesthetic.
The casual hipster dabblers can move on to whatever is next. But the real hipsters have too much invested.
They have vintage everything – from motorbikes to houses. Some of them presumably have steam-powered threshing machines, or have devoted their lives to some authentic but dying trade, like woodturning or blacksmithing. Many of them, let’s face it, have microbreweries in the spare room.
It’s possible that these genuine hipsters are glad that the mainstreaming of hipsterdom is over for now. Perhaps it drove them crazy to see so many people adopting their look without truly understanding it.
Maybe they are hoping that their once unfashionable neighbourhoods might get unfashionable again, so they can afford to live there again. But they must be worried too, that as the world moves on from hipster, they will look as tragic as old punks.
"I was a real hipster,” they’ll want to tell everyone. “I was always like this!”
The other question is what are the rest of us going to do next? What easy new look will restaurant chains, cafes and bars adopt when they want to seem ‘with it’ and ‘edgy’?
There’s no doubt that hipstery fonts on menus and overnight oats in Kilner jars and avocado with everything has jumped the shark at this stage.
A good rule of thumb is when you can get stuff in the food concessions in airports, it’s time to move on.
To put it in historical perspective, we are at the Paul Oakenfold moment in the hipster thing. The Paul Oakenfold moment is a cultural term (coined by me) that refers to the moment when Paul Oakenfold remixed U2’s Even Better Than the Real Thing.
Oakenfold, you might recall, was one of the originators of the rave scene. Everyone is entitled to a sell-out, and Oakenfold did a nice job on the U2 remixes – but for the hardcore, this was the moment the mainstream had subsumed rave.
In terms of what’s next, I’ve been conducting some enquiries with my fellow amateur anthropologists. One told me he was in a nightclub recently and saw young people dressed in tracksuits like Russians from the 1980s. Not sure that’s going to fly right now.
Though there is a kind of hillbilly mullet style going around recently that might speak to a revival – maybe snow-washed jeans as well?
You’d wonder too if the cultural signifier of our time is President Zelensky.
So we could be looking at a kind of militaristic/football casual look – army greens and Stone Island? Then again, the hipster thing might get another shot in the arm from what is, it has to be said, the first hipster war. Then again, is anyone really going to want to be channelling Azov Battalion stylings or the Chechen look? Maybe not.
I think we all need a bit of a laugh right now – so I’m suggesting, for some fun, we consider a nutty boys revival. And I’m not talking the cooler, more 2-Tone, mod end of the ska revivalists; I’m talking full-on Bad Manners and the more playful extremes of Madness.
I’m talking fat lads in Union Jack T-shirts, bet into suits, frantically skanking while raising their pork pie hats up and down off their heads. The food could be anything from an English breakfast to jerk chicken.
I realise though, that that might all feel a bit Brexity – so maybe it needs a bit more work. And anyway, it won’t be up to us. Rest assured, as we sit here, professional trend predictors are deciding which subculture the mainstream will plunder next.
My advice would be not to commit too much to any look at the moment.
Because I have a funny feeling that all the cool people are going to be hippies by this time next year.