Fake It Like You Know It: The Evolution of the Hipster

Call it Anthropology Hour: We explore the origins and the characteristics of the elusive creature that is the "hipster."


(SPOT.ph) The term "hipster" has become something of a backhanded compliment. Okay, you're cool, you're alternative, you "get it" (whatever "it" is), but you're also part of a group that has been universally ridiculed as trying too hard trying not to look too try-hard.



The stereotypical Beatnik subculture was popularized in one scene from the film Funny Face (1957) starring Audrey Hepburn. Photo from comeovertohollywood.com


The 1940s

The first hipsters appeared in the 1940s. Back then, they were better known as "hepcats." They adopted the lifestyle of the jazz scene-the fashion, the slang ("He's got a beef about his cabbage." = "He has a problem with his money."), the drug use, and the relaxed, sarcastic attitude. The Beatnik culture is also related to hepcats. Beatnik authors like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, who explored themes of travel, promiscuity, conformity, and capitalism, contributed to the movement.



The 1990s


The hipsters of this decade were so obscure that we can barely characterize them. They were mainly into Lo-Fi rock like Beck and Dinosaur Jr. and anything by David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive) and Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs). The 1994 film Reality Bites paints a pretty decent picture of the 90s hipster movement. For one reason, it stars Jeneane Garofalo, who was worshipped by the hipster and alternative kids back then.


Icons from the ’90s, mainstream or otherwise, have become staples of today’s hipster movement. Whether it’s non-ironically showing your love for the Eraserheads or wearing Doc Martens, ’90s pop culture is defining the current hipster obsession with nostalgia.

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The 2000s

This was the decade when the term came back and in full force. Robert Lanham, a resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn (pretty much the capital of hipster-dom), describes hipsters in The Hipster Handbook as people with "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." We know how the rest goes-liberal arts graduate, drinks the cheapest beer they can find, wears Wayfarers and their grandparent's wool sweater. And thus, the stereotypical hipster came to be. The hipster of Williamsburg origins, at least.




A sampling of the many varieties of the male hipster. Made at dolldivine.net


Today’s Hipster

The subculture has spread far and wide over the years-probably much to the disdain of the "original" hipsters, who are rolling their eyes, because what, because you just found out now about the band Vampire Weekend? Hipsters tend to create and critique trends-a truly vicious cycle. Once a beloved piece of music/fashion/art becomes "mainstream," off they go, back to finding something more obscure and bizzare-without appearing to care, of course.



How many of these female hipsters have you seen today? Made at dolldivine.net


The Philippine Hipster

And what of the Philippine hipster? You can look up or look down. The checklist below can help you determine their hipsterdom, whether the will deny their association with the "counter-culture" or not.


  • If they’re wearing a funky looking hat (beanie, beret, or bowler)
  • Snot/swamp green hair
  • Doc Martens, boat shoes/loafers, classic Mary Janes, or wingtips
  • Thick plastic glasses (more hipster than nerd/geek-but be warned there are the "faux hipster" types)
  • Moustaches and owls (but they’ve become too mainstream)


The hipsterest of hipsters have moved on to more obscure species. However, there are those who have entered the second wave hipsterism. This involves embracing the mainstream, for more irony. Hard to keep with these guys.


The art wall of The Appraisary at Cubao X could belong at a coffee house in Portland (another U.S. hipster capital).


Cubao X and regular sidewalks are some of the hipster hotspots in the city. You can also try looking for them where there are traces of vinyl (toys or records). The unironic hipsters hang out at "mainstream" areas such as Greenbelt or The Fort. While they do not share the same struggles as most of the original hipsters of yore (poverty and being homeless-sometimes on purpose, strangely enough), they embrace the culture in, like, a totally ironic way.


And yet, ironically too, hipsters don't want to be called hipsters. Then again, irony is what the subculture is all about, so we suppose it's fitting.

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