Through the Past, Darkly: Hipster Fashion Predictions for 2014

2013 was the year that even your sainted grandmother started referring to trendily-dressed twentysomething urbanites as “hipsters”. The term originated in the 1940s in reference to white kids horning in on the predominantly African-American hot jazz/bebop scene, but its current usage is so widespread, and so nebulous, that it calls into question whether hipsters, as a social subset, even really exist. What, after all, do drug-binging club kids have in common with rock & roll librarians?

As with its sociological precedents (beats, hippies, etc.), the popular archetypes of the hipster are defined primarily by urban, trend-minded fashion aesthetes. Unlike their predecessors, though, hipsters have to contend with a post-internet culture in which trends cycle past at breakneck speed. In an effort to narrowly dodge both definition and irrelevance, the more fashion-forward in the hipster diaspora will spin, Taz-like, through a dizzying array of sartorial affectations. From this pool, a chosen few are elevated, from whence they appear in VICE’s “Dos and Don’ts” column, and from whence the more lemming-like (quite literally) follow suit.

Seeking out innovative new clothing designs, however, is expensive. As a result, those on the ground floor of style usually cobble together their look from vintage stores and thrift shops. Should an affectation catch on, companies like American Apparel and Urban Outfitters are ready and waiting to swoop in with a modern appropriation for less imaginative latecomers.

In the last couple years, one popular style of dress has incorporated elements (tuxedo vests, curly mustaches, high-waisted slacks, suspenders, and the like) one might associate with Depression-era Germany, as interpreted by the movie Swing Kids. A curious wrinkle for a population that would just as soon wear a t-shirt of Ol’ Dirty Bastard “mean-mugging”, but as with anything, it won’t last long. Still, now that the hipster eye is peering ever backwards, what could possibly come next? Following are a couple predictions.

“The Victorian Dandy”

A curious move pragmatically, being equally high-maintenance to the current slew of Gatsby-esque fashions. Nonetheless, this mode of dress will draw adherents for its combination of classicism and androgyny, marking it as a rare fashion statement that could appeal to  both molly-addled party monsters and café-rooted laptoppers.

Appropriation of dandy attire look would also implicitly answer the aforementioned question of what the myriad hipster divisions have in common: regardless of proclivities, life goals, and cultural tastes, all hipsters pretend that they’ve read Oscar Wilde. The logical evolution, then, is to pretend that they are Oscar Wilde.

2. “The Old-Fashioned Hillbilly”

Though there are virtually no hipsters in Appalachia at this time, many Northeast neighbors are self-proclaimed fans of the region (c/f Harmony Korine). These coal country fetishists view the isolated, economically deprived hillbilly culture through the same exoticized lens used by 1960s youth to peer into India (which may explain why the spot held by a sitar in the psychedelic era is now often occupied, in the current spate of popular “indie folk” bands, by banjos and mandolins). Surely, then, there are those that wouldn’t hesitate to pay a sartorial tribute to the hill country’s glorious lineage.

Aside from hillbilly fashion’s aesthetic appeal, this style also speaks to the hipster’s ecological conscience, as it invites reuse of otherwise “ruined” jeans and cowboy shirts. That said, maintaining a hillbilly style does require some difficult lifestyle adjustments, including a decrease in showering, an increase in the home-distilling of “moonshine”, and a switch from Mexican Coke to Mountain Dew Throwback.

3. Gold Rush Prospector

This style of dress will catch on in a big way in San Francisco, after which American Apparel will begin manufacture of the previously hard-to-find hats of choice, thus foisting the ”‘49er” look onto the national stage. Adherents of this style will love its easy shaving regimen. Prospector style also clears a path away from the surprisingly resilient skinny jeans trend: now that even the most macho “bros” are trying to squeeze into painted-on Levis, it only makes sense for budget-minded hipsters to switch to the boot-cut style while it’s cheap, plentiful, and most essentially, fits over boots.

4. Cro-Magnon

For fans of “the Paleo Diet”. Simple, sexy, classic.

Dustin Krcatovich is a cartoonist, writer, designer, founder of FM DUST, and a collector of certain curios and ephemera (with a focus on 20th century "junk culture"). His writing and illustration work appears frequently in The Quietus, Tiny Mix Tapes, and Esquire's Culture Blog. He is also a former editor and contributor to Secret Zen Garden,Saagara's illustrated mindfulness/wellness blog for young people. He currently resides in Portland, OR.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>