Why There Are No Hipsters in China | 为什么中国没有湖人
Written by (作者): Frazer Worboys
Photos by (图片来源): portlandhipster.com
With VICE and various other pop culture news sources calling the end of the hipster, at a point in time where everyone a) doesn’t care and b) is basically a hipster, I thought it’d be worth writing about Chinese hipsters. I am well placed to do so considering I fit the bill of a hipster: eclectic music taste, writer, coffee drinker, smoker. It’s all there. So, coming from this point of view, I’d like to offer some insight into how hipster the Chinese really are, and if hipsters in China are indeed a pandemic like a box park in Brixton, just a tribal tattoo away from a cereal bar, chocolate milk bar, or some other childish endeavor.
Coming to UNNC, which has a fair few students from the UK, I was expecting to see a lot more hipsters on campus. When I showed up though, I didn’t see as many on campus as I would like. I’ve seen the odd outfit that seemed better suited in the south side of Manhattan than the Trent Building, but overall the impression I have is that there aren’t a whole load.
To be honest, I haven’t seen a whole load of hipsters in China at all, primarily because to be a hipster here, you don’t only have to get a tattoo and do your top button up and have some sort of weird hat covering that god awful shaved head. You really need to go all out. You have to be borderline mental. The norm in China is brands like Palace and Supreme, unlike the U.K. with your Ralph clad rugby lad.
Everyone has crazy hair, or at least a basic understanding of fashion. To be a hipster here you truly have to be something different. You have to have died hair, and the top knot cannot just be tied up, it has to be hanging off the back of your shaved head. You have to wear doc martens too big to approach any task with a basic level of efficiency. You have to spend more money on Starbucks than actually food. The level of being a hipster here in China is like being the guy who runs the childish endeavors in London. The level is higher, the standards included in the hipster bracket are extremely high. Although from general observation, some sort of skateboard is needed for entry into this club.
Its different in the UK, where we all have amalgamated some sort of hipster into our lives. Whether you take ecstasy or dabble with some horse tranquilizer dressed in the most obnoxious color Adidas has to offer, or just listen to King Krule and have a slightly different taste in music and the Instagram account to match, there’s a piece of hipster in all of us. This little bit of hipster is from outside influence, the opportunity to listen to that music given to us by the overrunning of hipsters.
In China, however, I don’t feel like hipsters are actually hipsters, I just feel like they are who they are, there’s no pretending. They don’t give a damn. They don’t care about what their friends think. There isn’t a defined hipster here. You won’t get banter for dressing like you’re from Norway or like a lumberjack, because everyone thinks you’re a normal bloke. There will always be people who strive to be different, but in China there isn’t such a drive to be different for the sake of attention, it is merely just people who do whatever they like and don’t care what others think.
To sum it up neatly, I was getting a haircut the other day and was thinking might as well do something different. My friend turned to me and said “Yeah why not? It’s China, it’s not like anyone cares here.” To drive the nail in the coffin, a kid on his skateboard went past, spikes on his bag, and of course that infamous top knot.
Frazer Worboys is an exchange student studying Chinese language at UNNC. He is not only a lover of all things Chinese, but loves to write thought provoking essays that generate fantastic debates.