What is a hipster? A hipster is a person who strives to be abnormal; a pop culture anomaly. They want to deviate from the norm. They want to be a true individual. Our popular culture is ever evolving, and thus, the hipster is ever evolving. Because of this constant evolution and transformation of norms it is difficult to list certain qualities (or clothes, or ideas) that a person must have in order to be deemed “a hipster.” Hipsters and hipster ideology can also deviate depending on their geographic location. Portland hipsters may be much different from hipsters on the east coast, or even California. I personally do not know what being a hipster is all about, and I believe the vast majority of citizens share my lack of knowledge. Because we (non-hipsters) do not understand them, we can only identify them by their fashion.
Hipster fashion is perhaps the most definite part of being a hipster. You will not see them wearing department store clothing. They do not follow what is “in-style.” Hollywood actors and actresses as well as famous musicians often set trends. Hipsters will not follow. They mostly shop at second hand stores and exchanges. So are they trying to tell people something? Does their style really reflect their personal ideal? My personal opinion: yes. And their message is one of anti-consumerism.
So perhaps this idea of anti-consumerism defines the hipster. In Portland especially, hipsters are often associated with being “green”. They often believe in sustainability, which is the opposite of the societal “norm” of capitalistic consumption. So perhaps they buy second hand clothing for pure sustainability reasons. If there are clothes that are cheap, why buy new “fashionable” clothes at a high price. Clothes that are mass-produced are consumer driven and thus anti-hipster. However, I think the reasons hipsters live the way they do isn’t just about sustainability and being green. They take personal pride in being different.