Death of hipster dining
by Rachel Walker
I live in an area of East London which is notorious for being the throbbing, beating heart of the capital's 'hipster culture'. While I reserve judgement, I preserve the right to observe. And it's very interesting.
A little over five years ago, pop-ups started popping-up. Round that time, the first wave of coffee roasteries and craft breweries arrived in the area. Next were the cafes and restaurants with a stripped-back, urban aesthetic: filament lights, poured concrete and ampersands in their names. It all fitted. Wikipedia describes the hipster as being "broadly associated with [...]a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility [...] organic and artisanal foods..."
Flash forward a couple of years though, and the authenticity of the hipster was being quickly-undermined. Suddenly the majority seemed to have sailor tattoos and were cultivating elaborate facial hair. A majority who were chipping away at a counterculture which was based on being minority. The purposefully niche had accidentally become mainstream.
Nowhere is this more present than in cafe and restaurant aesthetics. There's a periodic outcry in the press every few months, when a hipster restaurant is outed as a McDonalds "in disguise," or a friendly neighbourhood cafe is revealed to be a Tesco cafe just posing as a hipster hangout. Only last month, the scaffolding came away from a building nearby, which had been carefully renovated with glass fascia and gold-leaf detailing... only to reveal itself to be a Pret A Manger.
Despite the brief outcry, the tactic is being adopted by mainstream corporations of all shapes and sizes – such as PepsiCo's craft cola (Calebs) and Pizza Hut's cocktails served in jam jars. From chalked blackboards to mismatched crockery, vintage furnishings, kale and quinoa there seems to be a winning formula, which no sign of ebbing. So maybe it's worth adding Picklebacks and Red Stripe to the drinks menu, stocking up on mason jars and joining in...
Photo credits: Pizza Hut