American Apparel’s recent Groupon release got me thinking; how is the Hipster fashion giant failing when the “Hipster” style and culture is so popular? Even Ke$ha is singing about it and her fans are wearing high-waisted trousers and vintage inspired oxfords.
The Groupon offered $50 worth of merchandise for $25, several thousand sold in Los Angeles alone (AA’s home) and I definitely snagged one here in New Orleans. Its become more obvious now when a bigger brand is struggling (as so many are now in this economy) when you see they have something like a Groupon. Groupon usually features local businesses, a way to discover your city and have a cheap outing. When you see stores like Gap and American Apparel pop up, you can’t help but realize that nobody wants a $200 denim jacket or a $45 t-shirt anymore.
That brings me to the marketing aspect, and the stereotypical aspect. So lets completely stereotype here, most “true” hipsters would never claim to be hipster, they were the true original. They liked Animal Collective before you, they went to a liberal arts university, and they have the money for American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. But when something takes off as a trend, the number of originals fade and you’ve got your 16 year old high school girl Googling “How to be Hipster” and running out to get the items listed.
When I was 16, “Emo” was popular. Everyone wanted plaid shirts, cutesy band tees, guys wore girl’s pants, we all had a rainbow of Converse and a Dashboard Confessional poster. Then the whole Emo thing changed to something darker, presumably because stores like Hot Topic were the only stores you could find that As I Lay Dying cd without having to order it. Not only was the music more accessible, but so were Hot Topic’s darker fashions, so the plaid/denim Rivers Cuomo esque Emo kid started wearing black jeans and dyed his hair. Then that took off. By the time I’d graduated, kids had shifted their music tastes and traded their dark colors for neon colors and “Scene” was born. Soon you noticed that, even stores like American Eagle and Urban Outfitters were sporting bright splashes of color and deep v-necks. Do I need to explain how this transitioned into the “Hipster” becoming popular, or is it obvious now?
And with said Hipster popularity could actually come the downfall of the “true” hipster, and their flagship stores. In marketing, you go after what is most popular at the moment and make it attainable. American Apparel and Urban Outfitters aren’t terribly expensive, but they are for the trend-hungry masses. So, cheaper fashion destinations such as Target, Forever 21, even Wet Seal started releasing pieces and changing their store windows to the more vintage inspired, eclectic Hipster style. What young Ke$ha fan wants to spend nearly $60 on high waisted trousers when they could just go to Forever 21 and get the same thing for $20? The fad will fade like they all do, so of course there’s a cheaper alternative. Forever 21 is a huge spot if you want something trendy, because trends come and go. So why spend money on them?
At this point, even those people whose personal style has reflected that of a “Hipster” for quite some time are taking the cheaper route. Whether it be personal frugality, an economic hit, or the fact that it’s easier to find Forever 21 and Target as American Apparel and Urban Outfitters are in limited locations. So, in turn maybe soemthing becoming popular can hurt it just as much as help it. Those “true originals” are struggling and the trendy attainables are thriving.
(Please don’t take my stereotypes seriously, it’s just an example for observation)