Came across this lovely little infographic over the weekend, and I thought it was worth sharing. Behold The T-Shirt Lifecycle, a taxonomy of t-shirts based on age, use, and coolness. While it may be overkill, as a guy with a burgeoning t-shirt collection myself, I can completely get it.
Young Americans have always strived to be different, to stand out from the crowd. One of the simplest ways to do this is through what you wear. Over the years we’ve seen many different trends come and go, including greasers, disco, and punk to name a few. These styles were so popular that they have come to define their eras. Unlike the 70’s “hippie era,” this generation has no label designating its style, as of now.
Enter the hipster.
The “Hipster” is a modern mesh of every fad in the last half-century. The goal of the hipster is to avoid any modern (and therefore consumer driven) styles that corporate America gives us. In order to avoid “conforming” to today’s fashion, hipsters combine pieces from previous trends into one wardrobe. They thrive on “old school” and “retro” clothing and accessories and have been known to search through consignment stores for that perfectly ironic shirt from the 90’s. Anything that looks outdated can aid in completing the look.
While hipsters may think they are going against the grain, in reality they’re showing companies they’ll buy anything that doesn’t scream conventional. Apparel companies have noted this segment’s avoidance of department stores and have answered the call by pushing out “new” lines inspired by past generations. Check out these 80s CP style Adidas Originals I found among a thread showing off some of Adidas’ “new retro” styles. What makes this even more appealing is that these products are only sold through exclusive channels, making them seem less corporate and more enticing for the hipster “counter-culture.” Lately however, larger channels have emerged to distribute hipster clothes to the masses (see Urban Outfitters and American Apparel). By letting the fashion industry know that they’re not interested in new designs, hipsters have caused companies to flood the market with recycled styles. This has led to the rise of what can only be termed the “faux hipster;” those that support the movement in theory but contradict its ideals by purchasing styles from corporate retailers.
There’s no mistaking that hipsters are causing companies to consider rebranding their products to suit segment tastes. With the holiday season fast approaching I’m sure we can expect to see a spike in sales for commercial brands featuring these throwback styles. Needless to say the originality behind the trend has long since disappeared, if it ever existed. Maybe one day we’ll see a reinvention of the concept by those who are aware of its growing commercialization. Or maybe one day we’ll just look back at this generation as “the hipster era.”