Hipster T-shirts and other Stereotypes

As the word “hipster” has finally made its debut into mainstream Midwest popular culture, I’m increasingly asked, Is Progress is a hipster t-shirt company? Or do you make t-shirts for hipsters? I like to take the questioner by surprise so I always fire back a question of my own requesting why they’ve made that connection. The reason is usually, “your shirts are clever” – and this must be true because we hear that statement often. I understand where the question is coming from, but by this simple inference, is everything “clever” now also considered “hipster”? Its not that I care if we’re considered a hipster t-shirt company or not, its more that I’m confused. It seems that every blend of comfortable and stylish t-shirt can now fall into the American hipster t-shirt stereotype. But clever t-shirts aren’t a new phenomenon in pop-culture, only the word “hipster” is new(ish). Maybe the mainstream Midwest is still confused about, what the hell is a hipster?

So, I did 5 minutes of research to see what the wild wild web has to say about hipsters to decide for myself if Progress Label makes hipster t-shirts.


By mainstream definition, “hipster” is another pop-culture stereotype meaning: “a person who follows the latest trends and fashions”, aka “hepcat,” or “a person who is hip.” On a historical level it can also be defined as “a person, characterized by a particularly strong sense of alienation from most established social activities and relationships, especially during the 1950’s” – sounds like a Beatnik to me. The most thorough(and entertaining) answer is provided by the hipster of dictionaries – the Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary sites a 699 word definition of hipster that seeks to say something much deeper and buck stereotypes about a huge transcontinental “subculture”. This definition has to be the only serious definition I’ve ever read on Urban Dictionary, which makes it all the more humorous. Urban dictionary’s definition is definitely written by a hipster and includes a number of stereotypes of its own. It looks like the true definition of a hipster stems from your perception, your stereotypes, your history, your music preference, and probably your locality to a hipster population.

Some people believe our advocacy t-shirt designs and desire to design for a greater good is a hipster approach to business. We began creating Progress shirts years before the hipster revitalization project made its debut. Hipster is just a popular cultural label right now without a great mainstream definition, but if you want to use labels, why not use them all. The labels that have been placed on Progress Label include: hipster t-shirts, progressive t-shirts, advocacy t-shirts, political t-shirts, liberal t-shirts, conservative t-shirts, libertarian t-shirts, green t-shirts, communist t-shirts, socialist t-shirts, forward-thinking t-shirts, protest t-shirts, moral t-shirts, skate t-shirts, punk t-shirts, beatnik t-shirts, terrorist t-shirts, eco-friendly t-shirts, American-made t-shirts, hand-printed t-shirts, artisan t-shirts, super comfortable t-shirts, riot t-shirts, anarchist t-shirts, anti-establishment t-shirts, ethical t-shirts, conspiracy t-shirts, clever t-shirts. Label Progress however you choose, but if you want to be accurate you better use more than one label, and if you want to use the proper hipster style, you better grab a label maker.

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