By: Zac H.
I feel like Portland really has been a form of a breeding ground for the hipster. In all honesty, how would a hipster survive elsewhere? I say this because as I feel, it’s too hot anywhere south of the Oregon border line to comfortably wear all of the layers it requires to truthfully be a hipster, along with too far north and the accessibility to the hipster fashion (As an example recycled clothing from the 60s-90s and all those hidden homemade gems) disappears. The idea that I am expressing is simply that a hipster, even though it has a way of life and living, is really easily definable by what they wear.
The clothing comes from a rebellious point of view, it takes the classic staples of east coast garb, like button downs, a variety of sweaters, the classic American denim and then it’s paired with a bizarre facial hair, tattoos, lenseless glasses, or obscure t-shirts whether it’s a rare indie band or cult films and then of course recycled fashion. The idea behind these strange additions is to express a counter-culture. It’s trying to take the concept of the ideal and turn it into something else like exploiting failed attempts of popular culture, for example the B movie, and turn it into an iconic image in their own right.
With my experiences it also seems to have come out of a transplant culture, not something that originated in Portland but something that has latched onto the qualities our weird little city has. We have sidewalks that grow around trees, air that makes people from out of town feel like they’ve never known what it was like to breathe before, and skies so blue, well when they aren’t stained with gray clouds, you’d think they were Caribbean oceans. These people are entranced by the physical qualities and are also given an easy counter-culture to latch on to.
Portland has been known for its counter culture, it has always made an effort to be eco-conscious before being aware was even a thing. Recycling has been a part of my life for the last 19 years and it’s an anti-consumer form of rebellion, instead of using every single last thing we can and throwing it out, we send it back to a recycling plant to be turned into another item we can use again. Eco-friendly was a part of our daily lives before the progressive nature of hipsters came to Portland and found that it was a smarter way of life. Soon eco-friendly became a staple in the Northwest hipster’s way of life as it was part of where they moved.
Although it seems that they were insistent upon defining their own values, the progressive nature of the hipster doesn’t seem to exclude a form of assimilation, like the example with the Green Movement. Being a hipster has to be a regional thing, even though there is a stereotypical image of what it is, it’s still something that has its own independent portions. For example, there’s Portlandia the IFC TV show. It ran an online promo video mocking Portland’s bizarre qualities and how it’s stuck in the 90s. This is, ironically, an ad for hipster paradise. It’s a promo ran on IFC, Independent Film Channel, meaning the target audience that’s being narrow-casted is supposed to be people who would want to live in this Portland. Of course, the Portland we are seeing is fictitious and exaggerates the weirdness that does exist here. Yet it still would seem to be antiestablishment and all about a freedom of expression. However when you get here there’s 50 others of you simply because your hipster attitude may seem weird in, for example, rural Kentucky, but in Portland it’s run of the mill. This individuality that is promised, even though Portland has it, is being destroyed by the advertisements turning it into the home of the individual. It’s kind of a psuedo-individualization if you think about it in that way. It tells you that your individuality will be accepted, and it can be, but when your individuality is the same as the rest, it really defeats the purpose of leaving your home and coming here. It’s almost like the suburbs, a heterogeneous community of hipsters lacking the independence and individualization; everyone rides a fixie, everyone shops at a recycled clothes store and American Apparel, everyone is the same, even in their counter-culture ways.