Friday, October 03, 2014

The emperor's new trucker hat

I was knackered coming home today. I was sitting on the tube with my head bowed, staring vacantly at my feet. For a few stops nothing much happened in my field of vision -- black brogues shuffled in and out of view, heels teetered past, and battered Chuck Taylors leeched visible stench lines. When the train pulled away from Moorgate, however, a pair of the ugliest brown loafers I've ever seen stepped into my view.

They looked like mummified elephant scrotums, decorated with the tassels from an old lady's lampshade. Protruding from the tops of these loafers were a pair of slender, but masculine ankles. There were no socks, just pasty white skin and curly hair. As my eyes drifted up I saw skintight jeggings in ironic 80s stonewash, complete with factory-fresh tears at the knees. Above that was a near-concave chest bearing the printed slogan "LaFayette County Highway Cleanup" and quite possibly the deepest V-neck you can have on a threadbare sleeveless t-shirt without it splitting in half. There was an ironic anchor tattoo on the left forearm and a red scarf draped over the shoulders. In the right hand was a crumbled dark blue trilby.

I paused for a moment to take this all in before glancing up at his face. I could have guessed what I would see there: Freddie Mercury mustache, gauged earlobes, and a pair of the sort of glasses favored by Bill Gates in the late 1970s. The hair was shaved at the sides, but long and floppy on top.


Now, I've worked in east London for a good few years and I've seen plenty of hipsters. I've walked through Hoxton Square on a sunny Saturday. I've browsed the racks at Rough Trade East. I've gone to fringe theater nights in Camden nightclubs. Yet even in those floppy-haired dens of painfully sincere debauchery, at the height of the skinny jeans era (back before it went mainstream), I'd never seen anyone sporting the full set of sartorial hipster cliches.

Then it dawned on me. This man was wearing the apotheosis of late-noughties hipster-chic, with all its ironic cultural references, ironically. This presumably means that in the near future the arthouse crowd are going to have to learn to distinguish between people wearing ironically ugly clothing ironically (cool) people wearing ugly clothing ironically (late-to-the-party middle-class wannabes, not cool) and people just wearing ugly clothing (cool, in a noble-savage sort of way).

I'm not sure if they can cope with this.