Tag Archives: hipster

The Unending Cycle Of Hipster Fashion

Did you see this chart on Jezebel? I can’t decide if it’s funny or tragic. What do you think?

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LINKAGE: “‘Not Our Demographic': American Apparel Denies My Existence”

This Gawker-made collage features images of long-haired and half-clad models from American Apparel advertisements.

I am in my early 20’s. I will wear stupid pants. So will just about everyone else who is my age. Stupid pants are an important part of human development. By not catering to the enormous market of plus-sized/fat/whatever young people, American Apparel, the INDUSTRY LEADER in stupid pants (not to mention stupid shirts, stupid shorts and stupid nipple-baring leotard things) is missing out on a lot of money.

What irks me more than their hard-headed stupidity, however, is this insistence that fat people are not “part of their demographic.” What does that even mean? That fat people can’t be hipsters? Trust me, fat people are just as capable of being vapid, superficial and pretentious as any thin person. We can forgo bathing, smoke lots of cigarettes and dress like hobos. I’m verging on morbidly obese (according to the oh-so-legit BMI scale), and I had an ironic “hobos and Mormons”-themed 18th birthday party. Two percent of my ample MacBook Pro harddrive space is taken up by the entire discography and an extensive bootleg collection of Manchester indie gods the Fall. I complain on a regular basis about the negative turn country music took in the 1980’s. I dressed up as Jean-Luc Godard for French class when I was 15 years old. Pretentious and superficial? I’ve been there and back again.

This amazingly awe-inspiring excerpt is from “‘Not Our Demographic': American Apparel Denies My Existence,” by Lillian Behrendt, who blogs at My Unacceptable Body: A Fat Acceptance Blog. (Hat tip to The Rejectionist.) For the recent Gawker investigations into American Apparel’s hiring practices and standards for employment (including lists of banned garments and shoes), see here for internal e-mails and contracts discussing these. We’d like to add, as Renata Espinosa points out, that many retailers have some version of a dress code (and even a corporeal one) for their employees, and that this is a broader problem of sartorial profiling.

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Filed under (AD)DRESSING GENDER & SEXUALITY, DEMOCRATIZATION OF FASHION, FASHIONING THE HUMAN, LINKAGE, SARTORIAL INDULGENCES, STYLE POLICE & STYLE GURUS

Footpath Zeitgeist on Street Style

In considering further the discourses and practices of style blogs, mull over this archival nugget (from 2007!) from Footpath Zeitgeist, whose ruthlessly smart fashion commentary is often aimed squarely at the cosmopolitan circulation of the hipster-as-avant-garde figure.

But in many other ‘street style’ publications, the two ideas of hipsterism and lived fashion collapse together so that what we see covered in street style photography is a documentation of hipster culture…. We see only the most outlandish outfits; the ones that are strikingly different from ‘ordinary’ people’s clothes and are deliberately put together to attract attention. They are meant to serve as ‘inspiration’ for us ordinary people, as well as to designers and marketers who adapt these looks for profit. We can also see that in turn, this creates a culture of exhibitionism in which people actively solicit the photographer’s attention and then look for themselves in online galleries.

So there’s a triple audience: subcultural tourists getting a frisson from observing a scene in which they themselves don’t participate; insiders of this scene hoping to see themselves documented; and outsiders hoping to make money from those in the scene. There is even a fourth audience of outsiders who visit to ridicule the photographs: a rich vein of comedy mined by Gawker’s Blue States Lose and Mess+Noise’s ShakeSomeCaptions.

In this same piece, Footpath next turns her attention to some specific style blogs and, in particular, the uncurious sensibility that informed the following comments by two bloggers in response to critics: “We are NOT social commentators and we do not owe anyone a fuckin explanation of where a certain trend started or what was going through someone’s head when they put their outfit on… to tell you the truth we don’t really give a shit. [...] We didn’t start this blog with any intentions. All we wanted to do was document for ourselves all this crazy shit that people were wearing, and share it with people we knew.” In response, Footpath observes:

It depresses me that we are creating generations of designers and commentators who are unable to articulate why they like particular clothes, and who are unwilling to be curious about the sartorial behaviour of those outside their comfort zone…. It promotes a depressing stylistic conformity that is ironic because it appears so individual.

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