Did you know that the term “hipster” goes all the way back to the 1930s? I didn’t either until I looked it up recently in Dictionary.com, which notes that the name derives from “hepcat,” used to describe jazz aficionados in the ’30s and ’40s (think Sammy Davis Jr, the coolest hepcat of the Rat Pack). Hipsters are also the direct descendants of the “beatniks” and “hippies” of the ’50s and ’60s. Perhaps this storied heritage explains why the 20- and 30-something hipsters of today, living in upcycled warehouses and lofts in and around Williamsburg, Brooklyn or San Francisco’s Mission District, are big fans of vintage.
A hipster likes things that he or she perceives as outside the cultural mainstream. According to Urban Dictionary, “hipsterism” is really a state of mind wrapped up in the rejection of mainstream consumerism. Thus, their love of wearing vintage and thrift store-inspired fashions, old-school sneakers, and thick-rimmed glasses. We might make fun sometimes but these trends have caught on far beyond the hipster realm and many of us are looking at vintage items with new eyes. It’s really a smart and useful way to recycle and reuse.
The lesson in terms of gift giving is clear: an off-the-rack shirt or tie from a department store won’t cut it for hipsters. It may seem odd to opt for pre-owned items as gifts but remember that vintage is cool in the hipster world. A weathered wooden cigar box has character, especially when displayed on a reclaimed wood shelf beside a tattered hardcover literary classic. Etsy is a great place to find some of these midcentury classics this gift-giving season. Here are a few of my recent favorites from my own and other Etsy shops.