Why people hate hipsters

He/she's on top of current trends, owns vintage items before their remake appears in mainstream clothing chains and inhabits the trendiest urban areas. Yet the hipster is subject to never ending mockery. What’s going on?

Hipster bashing

According to the PhD thesis of Janna Michael there’s a tension between the ideals of trendiness and authenticity that becomes visible in discussions on hipsters - but it has a broader relevance: the hipster is a personification of ‘trendiness failing to convey authenticity’. Part of the joy in hipster bashing therefore lies in claiming for oneself the much valued authenticity that hipsters lack.


Adopting trends early and playing with different styles can be a sign of being up-to date and stylish, therefore a source of prestige. Yet trendiness remains a tricky thing, being too interested in trends raises suspicions of blindly following fashion industries and therefore being inauthentic. Having one’s own individual style without being a copycat is considered desirable.

Fitting in

Interviewees from all social groups in this study stressed the importance of not following trends blindly but selecting those suitable to one’s own body type and personality.

The most outspoken clothing styles that use fashion as a playful expression are found among the culturally involved. Playing with symbolic meanings of different fashion styles requires a mastery of these symbols while other groups tend to shy away from breaking style boundaries and are more concerned with ‘fitting in’.

Between individuality and mainstream

Michael found that while young Europeans with a huge range of different tastes in music, especially the avid music lovers tend to display an eclectic taste that combines several music genres. Other music listeners are happy with what the mainstream has to offer. Music taste then becomes less central for a distinct identity while it can still be used to draw boundaries. Heavy metal and other genres that are perceived as aggressive are most commonly rejected by the participants of the study.

Access to visual arts

For the visual arts, there are more prevalent access barriers. It is a domain with striking differences between the social groups interviewed here. Yet, also among more privileged groups, knowing about visual arts is not a ‘must’. Rather, what comes forward as important is to display openness towards different kinds of cultural experiences. Refusing to consider the option then could come across as narrow-minded.

More information

Instigated by the PhD thesis of Janna Michael, ERMeCC (the Erasmus School of Media, Culture and Communication) is hosting a symposium

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