Hipster subculture embraces Gainesville

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Every generation has its own counterculture, rebelling against societal norms. The 1960s had the hippies, the 1970s had the disco lovers, and today we have the hipsters. Hipsters have been known to wear tight, trendy clothing, listen to unknown bands and ride their bikes. Chris Bradt, a Gainesville hipster, explains the group's lifestyle and how it's sprung up around this city in recent years. (Video and photos by Lynette Zilio)

By Lynette Zilio

Chris Bradt has been collecting vinyl records from various places since high school. But she would never buy them at Best Buy or at any music store in the mall, for that matter.

"Most of the time, they won't have what you want, and most of the time, it's expensive," she said. "It's also not the place to be seen."

Bradt, 25, is what today's generation would refer to as a hipster.

According to urbandictionary.com, a user-generated site used to define slang terms, the word hipster refers to a subculture of people that "rejects the culturally ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, enjoys indie music, a good cup of coffee or tea, grocery shopping at an organic store and shopping for vintage clothes."

To market themselves to this new counterculture, local businesses are avoiding the mainstream and striving for eccentricity by making sure their stores are always filled with the newest and most obscure clothes and music.

"A hipster is becoming a cool thing to be," said Joel Zerr, the manager of the Sunglass Hut at Oaks Mall. "I'm definitely considered one."

Andrew Schaer, the owner of the local record store Hear Again Music and Movies, stocks his shelves with classic and current albums to reach out to this subculture.

"I mean, when the owner is handpicking every record that comes into the store, that at least says something about the caliber of music that it'll carry," Bradt said.

In recent years, there's been a resurgence of vinyl records.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, from 2007 to 2008, vinyl LP and EP sales rose by 124 percent, while digital sales rose by only 30 percent.

"There's more of a social aspect that comes with listening to records than with digital music," said Schaer, the owner of the record store. "You don't see too many people gathering around with their hard drives or sharing iPods in a family room."

Schaer said the people who are labeled as hipsters definitely do come into his store to purchase the vinyl records, but he sees all sorts of people.

Bradt has been one of his customers since moving to Gainesville. She's a big supporter of local businesses.

"When you shop at your local record store, you build a rapport with them, and you can hassle them into carrying what you want," she said.

Wolfgang, a local retail store on University Avenue, strives to influence the Gainesville fashion scene.

Self-proclaimed hipster, Zerr, said the store stays up on the latest fashion trends by going out and observing how people dress.

Gainesville hipsters sport skinny jeans, Oxfords, cropped tops and thick-rimmed glasses.

Wolfgang manager Natalie Beigel said the store brings in clothes from Australia, England and Los Angeles to attract those students who are into being trendy.

"Our style is for the eccentric," Beigel said.

The store also uses uses Facebook to try to get involved in the community and reach out to its customers.

Kate Keskinen, an employee at Urban Thread on NW 13th Street, said her store has a hippie, hipster, indie feel to it. Urban Thread on 13th St., Urban Thread, which sells online catalogue returns from Urban Outfitters and Free People, is filled with racks of cropped tops, wide-legged pants and high-waisted shorts and jeans.

"Our customers are usually people who want to be trendy," said store employee Kate Keskinen. "If people come in here and don't want to be trendy, sometimes, they're kind of freaked out."

Bradt feels that Urban Outfitters actually defines the new trends in what hipsters are doing fashion-wise.

"There's no way Urban Thread would be in business if it weren't for hipsters, so they're carrying more stuff all the time and making sure the people they hire all dress in that way," she said.

Steve Jacobs, a Ph.D. candidate who specializes in the sociology of culture and music at the University of Florida, said the hipster subculture is fundamentally intertwined with consumption.

"To be a hipster, you have to buy, eat, drink and shop where the hipsters do," he said.