Sunday, 28 April 2013

Thoughts and Musings - Hipsters, Consumer Habits and Inspiration

So I just let my friend interview me about my consumer habits for her marketing dissertation. Her topic? Hipsters. and it's made me reflect on my own habits and the reasons why I do the things I do a lot. 

I don't necessarily identify myself as a hipster. 

It seemed to me that hipster is the new mainstream. She corrected me by saying that the modern conception of 'hipster' was actually the hipster of yesterday, and that the definition she was going by is that of an individual who actively seeks to be ahead of consumer trends. But if you go by that definition, I am definitely not a hipster. On the contrary, I almost feel like the anti-hipster. If hipsters are ahead of the trends, I'm decades late. I don't look forward in time and think "people will like this 5 years from now", I look back and think "When I grow up, I want to be Rachel Weisz in the Mummy". 

My friend asked me what it was about certain adverts or images that speak to me and stick with me enough to influence my style. Is it purely visual? Is it more about the atmosphere, the content, the message? It's definitely visual. For me, it's about a particular sense of aesthetic that communicates an atmosphere that speaks to me. If that makes sense. For example, I realised that the adverts or images that will stick with me and compel me to hit 'save image' or tear out a page from a magazine will always fit into one of three categories:

- Fairy Tale
- Travel and exoticism
- History (be it Victorian, Far-West 1800s America, or 1950s retro... amongst other things)

Interestingly, these correspond to the three types of images I reblog on Pinterest.
Is it escapism? Perhaps so.

She then proceeded to ask me about the trends that influence other aspects of my lifestyle - the bars that I go to, the food I eat, the hobbies I try out. Why I do the things I do. Do I actively seek out to be different? Would I be annoyed if my favourite haunts became popular with a wider audience? I told her about my love for pop-up bars (Leyshon Brothers, anyone?), speakeasy's and Secret Cinema. Sure, I would be quite annoyed if these venues, which rely mostly on word of mouth, suddenly became a regular go-to for half of London's population. I like my quirky taste and the individual style it gives me. The combination of it all makes me unique; it's a reflection of me and only me. 

But at the same time, I don't actively look to be different. I don't go looking for obscure hobbies or trends with the conscious intention of standing out from a crowd. I chose to wear certain clothes, frequent certain bars and do certain things because they correspond to a certain set of values, aesthetic and otherwise, that I appreciate.
I don't do any of those things out of spirit of rebellion, either. Although I have plenty of that in me, I don't sing or belly-dance or dig up the remains of dead civilisations to contest the society that we live in. I do it because I appreciate and adhere to a certain set of norms and values that may not necessarily be the ones that are prevalent in modern society. 

Take burlesque, for example. Burlesque is something I enjoy immensely, and have done for years. I've watched it, I've performed it, I've introduced it to people. Despite its recent surge in popularity, it's still a controversial topic for many people. Yes, it is essentially striptease. But I definitely don't do it to shock people. To me, there is absolutely nothing shocking about it - merely teasing -, nothing distasteful or degrading or objectifying to it in any way. I think it's sad that some people don't agree, that they let their idea of what 'politically correct' should be cloud their appreciation of not just burlesque but many things that are somewhat sexual; but I also don't care. These are my convictions and the norms that I chose to live by, and I'm not trying to influence anyone else. 

Even something as simple and yet so alien to much of our society as dressing up or nights out. Fifty years ago, if you went out for dinner, men wore suits and women wore evening dresses or gowns. And that was just a regular Friday night about town. Now? People have lost that sense of dressing up for occasions. I, personally, really wish these aesthetic values that I personally adhere to  would come back - does that mean I'm not trying to be unique? Where does that put me on the 'hipster' scale of trends?

Sorry about this wall of text! I'm not entirely sure what my point was, but I hope my all-over-the-place, self-reflective ramblings provided food for thought at least. If not, here are four pretty pictures to make up for it.

This is the type of image that inspires me.
You can find me on Pinterest here.

When I grow up, I want to be Rachel Weisz in the Mummy...

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