Quite a few months ago, TimeOutNY had an issue whose theme was "The Hipster Must Die." Of course this title was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as they'd probably be killing off half their subscriber base, but it got me thinking about the financial aspects of hipsterdom.
First of all, it's a little unclear exactly what a Hipster IS these days. The various elements involved might include being involved in art or music or literature, wearing thrift store clothes, riding a certain type of bike, and generally adopting an attitude of being counter-cultural, or anti-Yuppie. The Hipster embraces a kind of anti-cool cool, and celebrates a certain degree of nerdiness.
New York is full of these types. It's as if the Statue of Liberty were beckoning to them, saying "Give me your tired, your poor, and those who were always being given wedgies in middle school." The supposed non-conformism of Hipsters is kind of a joke here, because they all look the same-- tight skinny jeans, extreme pallor, hats that are otherwise worn only by elderly Puerto Rican men, and retro-geeky sneakers.
(See, I am over it because I am old enough to have seriously wanted those same sneakers as an upscale, aspirational, non-ironic fashion item in the 1980s.)
Some of these elements of hipsterdom are closely associated with money.
For instance, Hipsters tend to like to buy clothes in thrift shops and say they are broke, unlike all those suit-wearing Wall Street types who are getting paid to be conformists. How many Hipsters really are broke? Do Hipsters drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and other cheap beers in cans because they can't afford Belvedere martinis? Or just because it looks cooler to get a bucket of PBRs? Hipsters used to move to Williamsburg because it was cheap. Then Williamsburg started to fill up with yuppies, so the Hipsters had to move on to Greenpoint and Bushwick and who knows where next. Again, is it really the money, or do Hipsters just prefer to have people reply "Where? Is that safe?" when they say where they live? I've already blogged about the tendency of Hipsters to ride the one-gear, no-brakes bikes known as "fixies." These bikes look simple, but they're not cheap: try $800 and up. For a bike with no brakes. In New York City. Smart, huh?
But despite this embrace of at least the appearance of poverty, Hipsters have become a target market, at least in New York. Perhaps recognizing that some of these people actually have trust funds, a savvy real estate company started offering "Home-Buying for Hipsters" seminars at bars in Williamsburg. Great derision followed at real estate sites such as Brownstoner and Curbed, including this gem of a comment:
once you buy a home, you are no longer a hipster. you're a mortgage holding wiener like the rest of us.
What say you, readers? Which would you rather be, a hipster or a mortgage-holding wiener?