Target and Urban Outfitters: out on the bleeding edge of culture

What corporate America calls ironic t-shirts

  • Hipstermobile


Are places like Target and Urban Outfitters bona fide hipster destinations or a mass marketed version thereof?

— David

Much of the outcome here depends on your personal definition of hipster. If you think of hipsters as the type of cool social innovators perpetually finding themselves out on the bleeding edge of culture, then you probably see nothing short of corporate scene raiding in, say, Target’s efforts to supply the masses with “graphic novelty tees,” which is what corporate America calls ironic t-shirts. On the other hand, if your personal idea of a hipster contemplates a hopeless trend-follower forever trying to retroactively claim some stake in the new hotness, then Urban Outfitters’ current run of 1990s inspired t-shirts is perfect for the utterly basic, lazy-ass hipster who can’t be bothered to put in the hard labor of scouring the racks at Safari Seconds for some clothing that might very well have been worn by one of the child actors on Home Improvement. In the latter case, the “mass-marketed” quality of big box stores would actually qualify as genuinely hipster. That these are both perfectly valid perspectives is what makes my job so damn hard sometimes.

Dear Hipster:

A little while back, you wrote something about the complicated relationship between hipsters and electric cars. That got me thinking about another weird hipster/car relationship I have noticed recently. Specifically, I mean to call out the bizarre love affair between hipsters and station wagons. What is going on there? I have heard the cutest hipster girls imaginable cooing over old Volvos, and I’ve personally witnessed at least one hipster friend drive all the way to Ontario to buy a supposedly “pristine” Buick Roadmaster, which is one of those faux-wood panelled boats my grandmother used to drive around in during the 90s. Another couple I know recently traded in their Miata for a new Subaru outback...and they don’t have any kids! How, in the name of all that is cool, can hipsters justify their obsession with station wagons?

— Mark Z.

I admit, this is one of the more peculiar hipster affections (or affectations). However, I can think of at least three reasons why station wagons appeal to hipsters:

They’re Unpopular

In a world where ugly, boring, interchangeable, pod-shaped “crossover SUVs” dominate the new car market, having a station wagon makes you look like a weirdo marching to the beat of your own drum; which is hella hipster.

They’re Old School

Back in the day, wagons were the number one people mover in town. Nothing says “1970s family picnic” quite like climbing into mom’s custom cruiser, preferably into that awesome seat in the wayback that freaking faced backwards so you could look at where you’ve been instead of where you’re going like modern people do. How cool and old school was that? Hipsters love that kind of thing.

They’re Objectively Great

The gas mileage and economy of a sedan with the people-hauling capabilities of a minivan or SUV. Plus, they can drive like sports cars when they need to. Hipsters need to feel like they’re more clever than everyone else, and wagons deliver a healthy dose of having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too smugness.

On the whole, I 100 percent support the hipster wagon movement. You should too. Next time you hear someone whine about how he needs to buy an SUV because he “has to sit up high” (blah blah blah waste gas blah blah never going offroading but still...blah), think to yourself, “Sweet, there’s one less competitor for the next well preserved Volvo 240 that pops up on craigslist.”

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