How Hipsters Saved the World — Before It Was Cool

The movement's influence on society can still be seen years after it first took off.
January 11, 2020
8 mins read

Hipsters defined the 2010s. You can quote me on that. They infiltrated our society, and before we knew it, clothing, style, décor, travel and eating habits were changed forever. Who would’ve thought that meals served in unnecessary contraptions, glasses without prescriptions, kale overload and an obsession with the lumbersexual would have taken hold over the course of 10 years?

Characterized by making things overly serious and trying too hard to come off as unique, in hindsight, everyone’s favorite love-to-hate trend wasn’t so bad after all. Many concepts that hipsters adopted or advocated, in the long run, encouraged society to shift radically in a way that some would say was for the best.

Although the hipster movement has slowly crept out of the mainstream in recent years — oh, the irony — its impact on popular ideals and lifestyle choices will never be forgotten. Take away the fact that hipsterism is attached to a trend at all, and a significant amount of hipster-influenced qualities and practices, like the following five examples, should be celebrated.

1. Bicycling

It’s fun, it’s relatively fast and it’s relatively cheap. Hipsters know how much better they are for biking, and will probably tell you with a hint of judgment in their tone, especially if they catch you driving three blocks to your corner-side 7-Eleven.

But maybe you kind of deserve it? Biking is nothing to be ashamed of, whether you exist within the hipster hivemind or not. You don’t have to wear tight cutoffs, Converse and sport a neckbeard to enjoy the beneficial habit and healthy hobby that is bicycling.

2. Drink Up

The prototypical hipster beverages encompass quality ingredients and sophistication. They’re normally organic, were probably created in a factory that supports a living wage and will cost more than a coffee from McDonald’s, but the taste and experience are both worth it. Thoughtful coffee is good coffee, and everyone deserves good coffee.

In a fast-paced, fast-food world, the focus of this hipster trend is the appreciation of a drink created with care. Maybe you couldn’t care less if your hops were naturally foraged from the Himalayan hillsides or if your coffee beans are organic, ethical and fair-trade, but you should actively support local, more sustainable businesses that distribute finer products.

3. Bringing Back the Old

This trend gives Ikea a run for its money. It’s not always cheap, considering most vintage items are pricy, but this trend inspires people to be more conscious about spending their cash. Not everything needs to be covered up and switched out for something slick and shiny.

Peruse through Mom’s closet from the ’70s for an outfit for the weekend. Try out some warm rust tones and burnt wood when decorating your apartment. Flaunt torn leather jackets and beat-up boots. When was the last time you entered a clothing store and couldn’t find anything that looked hipster-ish? Think about it.

Plus, this ideology isn’t limited to vintage clothes or even home décor. Everything retro is cool once again. Since hipsterism turns up its nose at mass-produced, poorly-made Walmart products, old-school necessities have been brought back into the fold. Vinyl, record players, typewriters and beard care kits all prove that people are embracing the “old times.”

4. Accepting Your Quirks

Hear me out. Hipsters try to rely on not being “mainstream,” but the inevitable paradox of this mindset is that, like any other trend, it eventually gets co-opted by the majority. It’s hard to be special when everyone looks, acts and talks just like you.

While their pretentious attempts to be counterculture failed for the most part, hipsters opened the door to be different. They wanted to distinguish themselves from the carefully structured regimen of the 2000s, and by doing so, diverged completely from conservative dynamics, both with regard to their appearances and personalities. In the aftermath of the hipster movement, weird is wonderful. The world is filled with more authentic artists than plastic pop stars.

Furthermore, back to the clothing trends, sloppy is stylish. Remember when people were shunned for wearing ridiculous prints or dying their hair? Not anymore. Additionally, the concept of niche does not really exist anymore, because there’s literally a market for anything. Do you casually wear blue lipstick, look like you stepped straight out of the 1950s, celebrate your obsession with knitting and upload pictures of your bearded dragon to his own Instagram page? Chances are someone else does too.

5. Healthy Eating

If hipsters contributed anything at all to the English language other than pop culture references and internet slang, it was a celebration of the letter “v” and other weird terminology: vegan, vegetarian, vegetables, non-GMO, organic, ethical meat, superfoods, activated charcoal and kale — do you remember anyone using all of these words before the 2010s?

There’s nothing wrong with being knowledgeable about your food, caring about what you consume or being concerned with the large-scale impact of purchasing certain brands. Educating yourself on these matters will always stay timely. Hold food industries accountable.

Of course, healthy eating trends might stray into extreme territory every once in a while, but the hipsters catalyzed more conversation about Earth’s food and the steps its inhabitants should take in order to increase our time on the planet. Even for those sticking to a less-than-strict diet, your favorite restaurant’s menu probably includes healthy options. Establishments are now considered uncool if they do not have at least one vegan or gluten-free option or do not support local growers and producers. All in all, eating healthy should not be a trend at all: It should be a permanent practice.

Like all trends, hipsters vanished eventually, but their obligation to promoting obscure culture, the love of nostalgia and nature-conscious lifestyles are not leaving the mainstream anytime soon. So even though we might be saying goodbye to the “I liked it before it was cool attitude” as the world turns into the 2020s, make sure you thank hipsters for enhancing your life next time you go shopping for clothes or eat a healthy meal.

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