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What is a hipster?

Everyone seems to want to know who/what/where is a hipster. There’s a trend to declare that there is no real definition for what a hipster is, though the word is used loosely by just about every publication imaginable.

What is a hipster? You’d be surprised. It could very well be YOU.

A hipster is an individual—one that usually fits within a certain subculture. Which subculture? It doesn’t matter. Because the definition for hipster is so very vague

In its most simplest terms, a hipster is an individual who wants to know things. Whether it’s knowing of a band before anyone else, or knowing about the conflict in Syria, the history of taxidermy or obscure words in 20th century Americana. A hipster is someone that’s eager to learn, to see—and yes—even to do. Being a hipster means you’re part of a subculture. As a demographic, hipsters try to set themselves apart from culture as a whole, while simultaneously remaining within the culture. This is nothing extraordinary for a subculture, and yet there’s a certain stigma applied to the “hipster” label.

The term, Hipster, has become used rather frequently to identify anyone that doesn’t appear mainstream. So hipsters stand out from the crowd. (Even if they fit into their stereotypical niche of standing out from the crowd.) Personally, “hipster” is just about the only label I’ve ever felt comfortable with. It’s a subculture so vague it can cover all manners of sins, styles and vices.

What does a hipster look like?

Hipsters wear skinny jeans and cargo pants, t-shirts and tank tops, trucker hats and no-hats. They drink wine, beer, gin & tonics, old fashioneds and Arnold Palmers. Many hipsters refuse to be recognized by that label or any label. And yet they’ll wear branded clothes. And yet many won’t. Are you starting to realize a trend here? Hipsters do one thing, and other hipsters do another.

Stereotypically (and really, what is any personified definition but a stereotype?), hipsters look like this:

Want to dress like a hipster? You probably already do. Anyone can be a hipster. Hipsters wear just about any brand you can imagine. Though really you’d generally associate Salvation Army, OxFam, Humana and other thrift & vintage shops as the shopping destination of choice for hipsters. Hipster fashion could include any type of label/brand from Urban Outfitters to something truly trendy and original—an indie designer perhaps.

Kreuzberg, Berlin - hipsters

photo via illgetyoumypretty.net

Interested in traveling like a hipster? Check out my hipster city guides for destinations all over the world!

A travel manifesto for hipsters

WHY WE TRAVEL

We travel to see, to learn, to do and to think.

We travel to experience new things, find familiarity abroad and connect all the strange dots that make this world so unique yet so familiar. We travel to push our boundaries so we can learn what we want out of life, where we want to be and what we want to do. We travel to learn.

WHERE WE TRAVEL

We travel both far and near.

We travel to desolate islands and big cities, to far-flung places and to our grandparents’ houses. We travel to tourist hotspots and to undiscovered travel destinations. Home is where we make it.

HOW WE TRAVEL

We travel with an open-mind.

We travel with enthusiasm and eagerness to discover the world we live in, this world of ours and of our neighbors. We travel with few preconceptions, with a desire to get lost and to maybe find ourselves during the process.

We travel to meet new people—other travelers and locals alike—those that can introduce us to new ideas, new things, new adventures. We travel with respect, compassion and understanding for others.

9 comments

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  1. I like your “equal opportunity” take on hipsters – anyone can be a hipster!

  2. Pingback: Me — Desperate Hipster Attempt Edition | a more quiet place

  3. Pingback: Street Fashion Budapest: museum exhibit | Travels of Adam - Hipster travel around the world

  4. Controversial definition, indeed!

    This is a very complimentary look at “hipsters”, which is problematic – because usually the word is only applied *to* people *by* others who disapprove of them. I prefer the term “try-hard”, as it’s far more self-explanatory – people who dress, and act, “too cool for school” (as defined by others). In London, we even more straightforwardly call them “dickheads”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVmmYMwFj1I

    To get into the nitty-gritty, the top two images aren’t hipster (even though I recognise the Hipster Olympiad!), but the bottom one: most definitely. The stereotypical “hipster look” (skinny jeans, checked shirts, vintage tees) is now so mainstream, that now only the most self-conscious accessories – tiny beanie hat, bum bag, twirly moustache – denote genuine hipsters.

    I totally appreciate the attempt to reclaim the h-word. After all, Hipsters used to be fucking cool http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hipster_(1940s_subculture) , and it’s a real sign of our post-irony, self-referential times that just being into awesome stuff is a sin. But I think you’re being to vague… and……..nice? If we start calling anyone open-minded a hipster, then what word can we apply to epic, next-level douchebags like this: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FSeyQk1TBYA/T9au6GndpII/AAAAAAAAEpQ/thlfdIAKwoI/s1600/hipster.jpg

    ?

  5. Daedalus Omega

    Seriously, those two girls look quite normal to me, the guys I buy the’re hipsters. BTW that manifesto does not define a hipster, I know because I’m not one and I also love traveling and relating to other cultures.

  6. Joe

    This seems more like a definition of a kerouac hipster than anything else.

    • Adam

      The beatniks were always a big inspiration for me, so not surprising to hear that! And even if hipsters today are a little different, it’s still the same roots…

  7. A hipster is not someone keen to know things at all. You could replace the word hipster with ‘person’ in this article for all the statements about how hipsters like to travel to learn and explore… Don’t we all?

    I don’t ascribe to any label, and if I did the only one that would fit me is ‘free spirit’. The word hipster, to me, literally means nothing more than square rim glasses, coffee shop philosophs and a love of dressing ‘differently’. Wanting to travel, learn and see the world does not make you a hipster. And being a hipster does not make you well travelled, willing to learn or different. It makes you someone who follows trends.

  8. Ok, I’m in, I wanna be an hipster.