Cultural Identity Defined by Unique Taste and Self Expression

The popularity of being a “hipster” in our time begins in the metropolitan areas of California and New York City. The idea of a hipster has been generally declassed in our society, but having an understanding of hipster culture is important, as this subculture has made such a splash in our generation.

Hipsters find and bring certain information that has been in the dark into the light. Hipsters obtain pride through knowing what is “popular” before it’s popular, giving them the upper hand in understanding cultural movements.

The term “hipster” has been used since the 1940s in metropolitan areas where jazz music and culture were very popular. Hipsters in this decade were very knowledgeable on jazz culture, just like how in today’s society they are knowledgeable on indie culture. In the 21st century, the hipster lifestyle has become a subculture of men and women typically between the ages of 16 and 30.

The hipster philosophy revolves around the idea of “staying ahead” and being the trendsetters for certain novelties like music, apparel, food, activities and hobbies outside of the social mainstream. “Taste” is very important to this community. Having knowledge of “taste” as a hipster is a strategic process to claim something will be popular before it becomes so.

Being ahead of these trends is important in the hipster community because things like new clothes and music can structure who we are as individuals.

“I’ve heard ‘hipsters’ listen to music I have never heard before. I don’t know, it’s just not what you hear everyday,” sophomore Gwendolyn Lee said.

Certain clothing and outfits tend to label who is a hipster in today’s society. Typically hipsters wear vintage clothing, although it is not a necessity to do so. Popular brands worn by this community are American Apparel, Vans, Pacsun and Urban Outfitters.

Hipsters like to support independent businesses and avoid buying certain brands directly from the label itself. Leggings, plaid shirts, skinny jeans, high waist jeans and oversized glasses (with or without the lenses) are popular items worn by hipsters.

In the Ramapo community, there are mixed feelings and interpretations of “hipsterdom” and its prominence in our world on campus.

Matthew Bernstein, a senior, said, “A hipster is kind of someone who wants to deviate away from whatever they feel is mainstream, but unfortunately for them ‘hipster’ has become mainstream. A true hipster is a rare breed.”

“No one’s better than anyone else just because they liked a song before anyone else did,” Bernstein added. “It doesn’t make them better, it makes them better at finding things, and it doesn’t make them a better person.”

Lee, who is new to Ramapo this semester, believes that being a hipster “has become normal.”

“Sometimes things that are different are more attractive,” reasoned Lee. “Like, something’s new and everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon and join something that has become popular.”

Many in the Ramapo community feel the term “hipster” has lost its value. Those who would be labeled as a “hipster” sometimes want to avoid that term because it has become popular in itself. The hipster stigma can be aggravating to those who truly enjoy predicting the next hot trend, style or sound. It’s hard to say that the “Age of the Hipster” is still a thing, considering the term itself has broken its most important concept: avoiding the mainstream.