Friday 24 May 2019

Whither The Hipster?

Edwardian tandem bicyclists b&w Photo
Beep, beep!

To make up for my last post being all about the Ladies, today my Unqualified Opinions are turning to the Gents. Despite my 'hood's diverse reputation, I may need to venture further afield than this Urban Island to check the following observation, but it seems to me that around these parts Hipsters* seem to be vanishing from our streets.

For a while we were awash with Hipsters, Bushrangers and Lumberjacks and the cosy beard was adorning gentlemen with the most obvious professions (e.g.: baristas and tattooists) and the unlikeliest (e.g.: ballet dancers). While I may not be alarmed enough to report the phenomenon to the Authorities, I have been wondering whither they went?

Canadian Lumberjacks poster
Craft beers for all when this tree is finished, chaps!

To be sure, the bicycle lanes are now filled with Sub-Continental Students moonlighting as Uber-eats delivery drivers (and a pulled pork slider is now delivered to the door of the Common Man); craft beers are now sold in Dan Murphy's and Creatives almost outnumber Office workers. So Hipster playgrounds have been evidently usurped. But I'm more concerned about the demise of the Beard.

My first thought is the cause is meteorological and it's merely a case of Hibernation. Did it just get too sticky for our local lumberjacks with their extra insulation? Summertime did see a shedding of their checkered flannel shirts and heavy denims and boots for t-shirts, shorts and thongs. But bare, white legs don't seem to exude the same gruff masculinity for these Lumbersexuals, no matter how bushy the beard or inked the skin. Perhaps in this age of the selfie, the penny dropped that we aren't in Canada, nor do local trees need constant felling.

And as for any Bushrangers out there, while Ned Kelly could cope with the heat of the outback, the urban variety have dwindled over the summer, too. A lacking in fortitude? I've found none to ask as they're so thin on the ground that, lately, I've not felt the need to clutch my handbag closer to my bosom on the way to the bank.

AIF Forestry Unit sappers axe shaving in WW2 b&w photo
How an authentic Lumbersexual says Farewell to his beard?
Maybe best not to try this at home ...

My second thought is that perhaps it's just a facing up to Practicalities & Hygiene. If I was a Hairy Chap, I'm not proud to admit I'd feel decidedly Daggy (Aust. slang: non-Hipster) in this day and age if I was to make use of the accoutrements a bearded gent from previous centuries unselfconsciously used to keep the facial hair in tip-top shape, viz.:

The Moustache Cup: Whilst a Hipster cannot live on takeaway coffee alone, at some point he must venture to eat in public or drink without the aid of a lidded, takeaway coffee cup, a.k.a. the Adult Sippy Cup. A grooming comb or vegan beard brush (stocking filler idea for next Xmas, only A$15!) may be called upon to assist in keeping the face free from Snacks-For-Later but really, modern etiquettte tells us that grooming at the dining table is rather to be frowned upon.

However, I haven't seen any Victorian Moustache Cups in action. And this in spite of the chance to go mad with personal branding, like the trendy Ringling Brothers show below, and earn some green credentials by Bringing Your Own cup to one's favourite coffee spot.

Ringling Brothers and their personalised moustache cups photograph via Flickr
A nice, ahem, masculine selection of personalised Moustache Cups,
Photo Credit: via Flickr

As for the modern offerings ...

For a modern accessory, the Whisker Dam is functional,
but lacks Victorian flair

The Swedish invention, the Stache Shield,
is optionally worn under the nose,
but gives the wearer no panache

 The Moustache Snood or trainer (another stocking filler at a mere US$23!): So useful for keeping the moustache all tucked in at night, coupled with training it to resist the natural pull of gravity and thus droop untidily or sprout in wanton directions. They are rather better made than the beard nets for restaurant employees which are designed to keep shedding whiskers from the food of paying customers and are about as fetching as a disposable shower cap, but are still not the first thing a Hipster may pack for his honeymoon. Like his Lady Wife who may resort to foam curlers in bed at night, these days it may only be a Confident Gent with many years of conjugal familiarity who would don such a patented device.

And does calling it a Bartbinde really add any cachet, I wonder? Ned Kelly, meanwhile, would be laughing heartily in his tin suit at the suggestion ...

1920 Kaiser Bartbinder for sale on antique-gown website
This 1920 Kaiser Bartbinde or Moustache Snood comes with a suitable collector's
pricetag of 100 Euros. Vintage fashion is pricey!
Photo credit:

A Museum-Quality Moustache snood in the
Tallinn City Museum
Photo credit: Flickr

If you look closely you can see that both of these vintage accessories above have a cat for a motif, begging the wearer to be the cat's whiskers; ooh, and a little riffing on Hepcat, the original 1940s Hipster, and I come to find this is indeed the ideal Hipster accoutrement.

Victorian Neck Beard -
Carefully shaven but otherwise unruly

Jaunty Muttonchops and Tidy 'Tache
to avoid entrapping your snacks

Although I had seen the occasional Dastardly Dan twirly moustache about town, which gathers up whiskers which may want to wrestle with the food on the fork rather more stylishly than the Stache Shield, I've not seen the obvious earlier solution to constant food entrapment, what I might term the Radical Shaving Pattern. In the Victorian Age, this led to everything from mutton chops to the chin curtain (Abe Lincoln's choice) and the neck beard**. Those Victorian bearded men experimented long and hard with Beard Patterns and would have found it was possible to enjoy eating and drinking without encumbrance and have a luxuriant beard, tended lovingly (or not) with all the hair dye, pomade and waxes that a modern Hipster may keep to hand. (See above).

Practise, practise, practise ...

... To avoid follicular disasters

Were men braver then? Did it just get too hard and too messy for the Hipster and it boiled down to either growing a ZZ Top thatch and putting up with the critters that may come to nestle in it or just shaving it off. Whither the Hipster? Well, I await the coming winter with interest as these Bearded Sub-Cultures may just resprout in our Inner City Petrie Dish as the cooler air refills with irony.

To be sure, it only takes a razor for a Hipster to shed the au courant beard to slip back into the mainstream but what of the tattoos? Once inked, their permanence is obvious. Well, minus their bicycle and beard, a Hipster will ultimately blend with the crowd since Tattoos are the Intersection of all Sets in the Venn Diagram of Modern Sub-Cultures. They are so ubiquitous, it's an uninked Young Person that is almost scandalously subversive.

As yet, the Laser Tattoo-Removal Parlour that opened up in our area a little while ago, where I gather it is more expensive, painful and time-consuming to remove the tattoo than to receive it, has not had a path beaten to its Shoppe door. While it sounds like a clever business proposition, perhaps they're just a bit too far ahead of the Zeitgeist for now.

Can't be bothered with beard grooming malarky?
Let it go wild.

* We don't really know any Hipsters, unsurprisingly, but we are acquainted with the odd Bearded Man for whom Fashion Irony is not a byword. However our dear friends in America, the Wine Buffs, recently sold their Napa Valley holiday house for a new holiday house in Hipster-Central, Portlandia, so we know a city's-worth now by 2 Degrees. Put a bird on it, M!

** I discovered a blog called Neckbeard Society where one man is determined to elevate it from its lowly status, but I don't think he is a Hipster.


  1. That was an enjoyable read. I am not overly fond of hairy faces. They remind me of bad things like the Taliban. In my younger days, long hair on guys was all the rage. But no beards. Those were a definite no-no.Stubble was acceptable though. I sincerely hope beards go out of fashion together with overly tattooed bodies. It's not my style. Or perhaps I'm becoming old-fashioned. I loved the photos you included. The guy with the cat in his beard made me laugh out loud.

    1. It's no surprise that Mr P does not tick the classic Hipster boxes, so we share the same taste, Loree.

      The tattoo will need more than a lifetime to go out of fashion, I feel - it will need the sight of crumpled old tattoos on the elderly in nursing homes for their young carers to say, Not for me! But it's funny how in this era of fast fashion, some things have proven remarkably persistent - like droopy jeans on men and leggings as trousers for women.

      I'm glad you liked the Sailor. He evidently adores his cat!

  2. I prefer clean shaven, too. Lots of men in California have those long beards now, and like Loree, they remind me of the Taliban, too. Others shave their heads, which I don't like, either. Long hair, on certain men, I do like. I just find seeing their face much more attractive than a long beard or mustache.

    1. I think California and parts of Australia are very similar, Stephenie, and there isn't much variety in the fashion choices, in spite of the modern world not conforming us with Fashion Dictates as in the past. I'm sure these fads will all pass!

      As for shaven heads, I did have a bit of a "thing" for Patrick Stewart, of Star Trek fame, but I think it was more the package of actorly voice and futuristic ensemble. My grandfather was mostly bald from his 20s, save for a low ruff, and I have complete sympathy for a thinning older gent tidying it all up with a close crop. If, however, you're able to go full Georgian-era with a luxuriant long mane, it is quite a sight! I'm thinking Poldark, here, haha!

  3. This is hilarious, and I love your photos. What struck me is how a trend from the wilds of Brooklyn turned into an international thing. Even in the smallest rural towns of Europe one finds men with slicked hair and bushy beards, often with large biceps sporting large tattoos. Back in the day, it took global rock stars like Elvis or the Beatles to spread fashion; otherwise each culture stuck with its own.
    That said, husband got a beard due to a hospitalization and the rest of the family voted that it must stay. The two-day growth style, not bushy--when it turns white/gray one risks being mistaken for Santa. Instead, he looks like George Clooney. Who would say no to that?

    1. I do see the appeal of waking up next to George Clooney over Santa and I have been intrigued to see what Mr P would look like with a rather on trend George V thatch, but he won't indulge my curiosity. And no it didn't take more than 2 decades together before being secure in the knowledge that I won't run for the hills upon seeing it! But even when he recently broke his dominant wrist, he still managed to keep clean shaven, cast or no.

      Some of these trends do spread like wildfire! During my interweb perambulations, I read a short essay that suggested mens beards are more prevalent during times of male emasculation, a premise I find rather laughable, but what is amusing is that serious minds are puzzling over the phenomenon!

  4. I would think that one of the fun things about being a man would be to grow facial hair. That Bartbinde looks like such a funky thing to have to put on your mustache. However, if I were a cafeteria worker, then I might wish to wear one during service.

    1. You are very Fashion Forward, Bea, and rather braver than I should be. Wearing a Bartbinde outside the comfort and privacy of one's home must take a bit of gumption. Although if you look at the silly things people have worn and do wear throughout the age then I'm surprised it hasn't been embraced by trendsetting men!

  5. Interesting and amusing post! Regarding beards (of the bushy variety not George Clooney/Travolta cover variety) GSL hasn't got the chops to get much past grubby but of course they are very much the new thing espesh when coupled with tats. It baffles me when I see an attractive young woman at black tie event in slinky evening gown with half her body covered with the scribblings of a meth addict...and then when you hear them talk it all makes sense.

    1. Baffling, indeed, GSL! And the look gets mighty messy when the tattoos are flaunted beneath a (most often) non-complementary colour or pattern on the gown. While the Lady may be aiming for an Oriental Allure, I find it's rather more of a Gun Moll pastiche. That or a Sailor waylaid on the way to the docks!

  6. Haha !!! What an array of beard styles !!! My husband has had a beard for most of his beard growing life apart from the odd time that he shaved it off and, when he did, I didn’t recognise him 🤣
    Apologies for not commenting on your last few posts ...... been a bit busy with new grandchild !!! XXXX

    1. True it is that when a familiar beard or moustache gets whisked away, it takes a bit of getting used to! I'm guessing your husband is a master at grooming by now, otherwise one so stylish as yourself would have had some Input into the arrangement, haha!

      Don't apologise, Jackie, for not commenting - I consider any or all comments a total privilege and am rather thrilled to know that my Words do find ears out there, after all. A grandchild is a rare treat and babies need hoovering up while you get the chance!! xx

  7. I have never really been a follower of fashion. My hairy chin and upper lip have been with me since the age of about 20, and I shall not be changing.

    1. You would probably get a mighty shock to see your unfamiliar face greet you in the mirror if you shaved it off! As a Secret Squirrel disguise, nothing really beats facial hair. A hat and glasses don't have the same transformative effect in the spyware arsenal. But I shall pop you into the Non-Ironic Fashion camp, Cro, alongside my other Bearded Acquaintances.

  8. From D.A. Wolf

    This is all too delightful! By the way, I popped over from the Contessa’s...

    I had to chuckle as I was reading. There are no lumberjacks in my neighborhood but plenty of hipsters. I also seem to have given birth to a hipster, whose ever changing beard and mustache styles are always a surprise when he comes to visit at holiday time.

    In fact, some of the grooming products that you showed are among those I may have looked at last year when picking out appropriate and entertaining beard-brushing and moustache-waxing products.


    1. Thank you for stopping by, D.A! Your hipster must be able to grow a luxuriant thatch if he's getting hours of pleasure out of chopping and changing styles. There's certainly plenty of fun to be had if you can. And the variety of grooming products would make a metrosexual green with envy!


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