(Blog Post #4) Fashion in Brooklyn

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My boyfriend’s father, who has lived in Williamsburg his entire life, told me that his childhood neighborhood was not always like this. Oh yeah. Once upon a time, Williamsburg was not the hip, trendy area that we know today. In recent years, the neighborhood has become gentrified. It is now largely inhabited by young, working professionals and people that are categorized as “hipsters.” The overwhelming presence of this subculture has strongly influenced the local merchants. Many restaurants in the area offer vegan options, gluten-free products, organic produce, and all that type of junk that you’d normally find at Whole Foods. Eating healthy is what’s in, even though I’ll never quite understand the hype behind those juice cleanses. (I have all my teeth. I don’t need to drink my vegetables.) These people have not only changed the demographic of the area, but they’ve also changed the entire lifestyle. With easy access to restaurants, bars, and public transportation, almost nobody drives, but be warned: If you choose to drive into Williamsburg, watch out for bicyclists! I swear, it seems like everybody and their mother rides their bike! Cold weather, warm weather –  it doesn’t matter, man. On the plus side, there are less gas emissions, and I’m all about saving good ‘ol Mother Earth.

As Simmel describes in “Fashion” (1904), living in a city such as Williamsburg promotes a certain lifestyle. Simmel states, “Since modern individuals tend to be detached from traditional anchors of social support, fashion allows the individual to signal or express their own personality or personal values.”Besides the food, another significant aspect is… well, fashion itself. I’ll be honest, a hot pink Juicy Couture tracksuit wouldn’t necessarily be considered as popular fashion in the ‘Burg. (No offense to the women who wear them. I bet those are really comfortable. You keep wearing what you love, honey.) I’ve come to understand that a Williamsburg woman’s idea of a stylish outfit isn’t necessarily something new, but something borrowed. No, I’m not describing one of those corny wedding traditions. I’m talking about Macklemore status: thrift shopping. It’s all about finding that diamond in the rough at a flea market, making it your own, and therefore making it new again (although there’s still a good chance it could have emerged from the mothball-ridden closet of its previous owner). When I go to visit Williamsburg, I think to myself, “Is this cool enough to wear?” It’s as if there’s this unspoken contest; everyone’s trying to “out-cool” each other, without being too obvious about it. So if I care too much about how I look, would that be too mainstream?

The more time I spend in Williamsburg, the more I realize that the city itself is kinda like a repurposed granny sweater.

(Hear me out. I’m getting to the point.)

Much like the inhabitants seek to find that diamond in the rough; that one of a kind piece at the thrift store, it appears that their neighborhood has also become a product of their fashion and refurbishing. These hipsters have brought new life into this neighborhood and made it their own. So, perhaps I’ll be able to tolerate their curiously perfect knobbed mustaches, and their rampant bicycles. They have cultivated a beautiful neighborhood that, in my opinion will stand the test of time and fashion.

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4 responses to “(Blog Post #4) Fashion in Brooklyn

  1. This post had me cracking up. You’re so right! A couple years ago, if someone told me that Williamsburg Brooklyn was going to be an iconic hotspot for fashion, food, music and art in New York, i wouldn’t believe. That being say i just want to emphasize how Simmel’s theory of fashion serves a dual purpose. So first off, the typical hipster as described by urban dictionary is “A 20 something white, upper-middle class suburban transplant to any gentrifying neighborhood in any major city, but Brooklyn, NY in particular. Disheveled, hand-me-down appearance to present the image that they are not a slave to trends or fashions(ha!) They typically wear thick, Andy Warhol-like glasses (whether they need them or not), unshaven, unkept shaggy hair and retro Converse sneakers sometimes with no laces. The term is often used as a pejorative considering a “hipster” detests being called a “hipster. They hate corporations and everything mainstream, yet still buys Apple products. They enjoys indie music, a good cup of coffee or tea, grocery shopping at an organic store and vintage clothe shopping. also enjoys local acoustic band shows, and enjoys indie flicks or foreign films with subtitles. they are snobbish about their music and political affiliations, and enjoy reading books.they enjoy traveling and culture in general.” That being said, these hipsters consider themselves as a unique and even exclusive group of people that commend themsleves on being completely different which Simmel refers to as distinction. The thing is that this Williamsburg, Brooklyn have become such a mainstream trend that its actually become a fashion trend all over New York City and all of a sudden everyone wants to be hipster which is an example of conformity in Simmel’s double purpose of fashion.

    • LOL! Oh my goodness, that video was so entertaining! Great points you made in your post! I’ve never been to Willaimsburg, Brooklyn (sad, because i’ve lived in NYC all my life), but I definitely need to take a trip out there.
      When I read this post, while I can’t necessarily relate to the fashion and thrift stores portion, I can definitely relate it to the growing Urban Farming movement, which seems to be starting in Brooklyn!
      Urban Farmers Markets are definitely seen as a hipster thing. Not only going to the market, but the whole “green” lifestyle. Creating a community, adding another element to whole “hipster element”, so in addition to the i-phones, thrifted clothes, hipsters eat organic food from famers markets, use rusable bags, eat quinoa, juice their fruits and veggies…(again this is just a joke about what comes to mind when we think of hipsters, lol) So now we have another element in which others may want to conform to: the organic, green hipster lifestyle.

  2. Another jaunty and engaging post, A. It reminds us that all kinds of things, beyond apparel are subject to the influence of fashion — all the various elements of “lifestyle,” as T and Y point out, what we eat, how we spend our time, where we live, how we get around… What would Simmel say about the “hipster” and hipster fashion? Tasneem makes some key observations: the fashion has become “mainstream,” to the point that no one wants to be called a hipster — the cycle of fashion.

  3. Post 3-Its true williamsburg has become the “trendy hot spot”. My cousin moved ther bout 2 years ago. He’ s always raving about the trendy bars and restaurants. Although he’s not too into being green..he admits that its very hipster now but years ago it was not. Many people go and try to be individualistic but fashion i believe is what you make of it. People are still trying to fitin some way or another. Some People try to be green or eat all organic because its the new thing! In the the end making me wonder how individualistic is the person. They are still conforming to some societies norms.

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