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Published December 1st 2012
Hipsters hanging in Albert Lane in the city. How do they look so effortlessly cool when hanging out?
Unless you're a hipster yourself - I'm too slow on new trend uptakes to ever hope to be one - it can be quite hard to define exactly what characteristics define the 'hipster' movement. I'm assuming you kind of have to be in the hipster loop to know, and by the time outsiders catch on to the hipster's left-of-centre ideologies and fashion sense, many of them have already moved onto a new trend or cause that we don't know about yet.
Depending who you ask and where you live, broadly speaking hipsters are young white middle class men and women typically in their 20s or early 30s who have a strong connection to progressive politics, celebrate vintage and retro wares, and reject the mainstream. Urban dictionary offers a full definition and discussion on the hipster subculture
What is evident however, is that the characteristics of 'hipsters' are broad and the hipster movement is evident in just about every sizable urban city in the western world – and yes this definitely includes Brisbane. The truth is on any given day you can spot a hipster just about anywhere in Brisbane - you just have to know what to look for. And look for hipsters is exactly what I did for the purposes of this articles. I took to the streets and off I went scouring the suburbs in hope of spotting Hipsters in their chosen environments. Based on my previous inclinations and experience on place where hipsters might normally hang out, I headed to the diverse inner-city suburbs of Brisbane. With my covert iPhone camera I snapped pictures of would-be, and could-be hipster types using the hipsters photo app of choice – Instagram. I would be applying those vintage photo frames and sepia filters on the pictures later but for now it was classic case of people watching and candid photography. I just had to be subtle about it.
Candid shot of a girl with elements of hipster style and fashion.
Not being a hipster myself and not interviewing people directly about their ideologies and interests, all I had to go on was a fleeting first impression based purely on looks. Are the people in the photos true hipsters? Perhaps some of them more than others but I guess I'll let you be the judge of that.
First Stop - The 'Valley'
When you see this sign you know you've arrived in hipster-ville
Walking up Brunswick Street into Fortitude Valley, it wasn't long before I had my first hipster sighting. I'm assuming at certain times of the day you're more likely to see hipsters in the Valley such as the evening time outside music venues like the Tivoli or the Zoo before a live show is a safe bet - depending on who is playing of course. During the week, the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts is also a good spot to spot. Since film,art, music and drama go together with hipsters go like milk and honey, keeping your eyes peeled for hipsters sipping their coffees (fair trade of course) in the adjoining coffee shops on Brunswick Street should ensure many a hipster sighting.
It stands to reason that these hip looking youths might be heading to the very cultured Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts across the street.
Surprisingly the city centre of Brisbane turned out to be the most fruitful on my hipster spotting expedition. Perhaps this was due to the sheer numbers of all types of people in the Queen Street Mall meaning there was more of everyone, but within seconds of sitting on a bench outside the Hungry Jack's at the intersection of the Queen St Mall, I was spotting hip and alternative teens and youths at a constant rate. For some of the best people watching in Brisbane, I can completely recommend this centre of the mall as its a crossroads and common place for people meeting downtown.
Just off to the side from main section of the Queen St Mall, independent record store Rockinghorse was my next hipster spotting location on the itinerary. While I didn't see too many people that could completely qualify as 'hipster' walking past, inside this reputable Brisbane music store is a different story. Based on looks alone the staff and a good percentage of the customers definitely met my hipster criteria. Check. Now the next stop...
Hipster Hangout Alert - This independent record store is sure to stock all of the music of the hipster persuasion
Just up from Rockinghorse, I was lucky to snap a picture of a quintessential looking pair of hipsters hanging in Albert Lane. (See picture at top of the article.) Wearing skinny jeans and sporting oversized lenses, with a ultra cool head wear that resembled something reminiscent of a sock, I had definitely hit the jackpot for hipster spotting in the city centre.
West End's Boundary Street
West End's commercial hub Boundary Street, is another safe bet for hipster hangouts.
West End was the next port of call and based on the suburbs diversity and its reputation as a cultural melting pot of music, art and food I was pretty confident I'd be in luck. A potential hipster hangout could be the Three Monkey's Coffee and Teahouse which bears all the hallmarks of hipster look and feel, although due to its overwhelming popularity, the place is also likely to have been abandoned by the hipster crown in favour of lesser known hipster haunts in the area.
Waiting for a bus provides good people watching opportunities - especially in West End
Like the rest of us hipsters catch public transport too
Catching the 199 Bus which runs through the hipster hotspots of West End, the City, The Valley and New Farm, provides more opportunities for sightings of the hip ones. Below are some girls I snapped who were sporting a fashionable edge in terms of fashion and hairstyle.
The 199 Bus between West End and New Farm, is patron to many young trendy folk.
I also made a pit stop at the Fortitude Valley train station to hangout for a while, in hope of sighting some members of the subculture. After waiting for about 15 minutes and trying to look like I was there for a legitimate reason, I was left unfortunately left hanging on this particular occasion. However for those who catch trains regularly, public transport and train stations provides prime people watching potential. Including those that fall under the hipster label.
Not one single hipster at the Valley train station on my visit. But train platforms and public transport generally offer good chances of hipster sightings.
In trying to define hipsters, I've done one thing that they probably dislike most - attaching labels to people. Of course the irony is that for subcultures like the hipster to understand themselves and to define their shared ideals, they need to categorise themselves in some form. Which begs the question - did a hipster themself coin the term or was it people outside the movement who categorised them as such? Probably only someone who identifies as a true hipster could tell us the answer as well as exactly where to spot them and key traits that identify one. What I do know is that defining a hipster is complex and beyond the scope of this article. If you do consider yourself a hipster and know of particular places and what to look for when hipster spotting please share your knowledge by leaving a comment.
And with that said, happy hipster hunting or for that matter people perusing of any type. The diversity of our fellow humans is truly something to celebrate and makes for an interesting and highly enjoyable way are to way to spend a sunny afternoon in Brisbane - all without spending a cent.
Hey all Hipsters come and get some gear at a brand new thrift shop in The Gap Sat 27th April 8 am - 12.00 70 Koorong Street, The Gap (parking straight outside) small shopping complex in the middle of suburbia
Thrift Shop Open Tuesdays: 9am - 1pm
All proceeds go towards charity which support Kidney patients.