Could this be the end of drinking Pabst, sporting ironic facial hair, and wearing animal print T-shirts?
Hipsters aren't dead, they just smell that way. That's the news from trend researcher and self-described “futurologist” Chris Sanderson, who says we are going to see a move away from the hipster uber-enthusiast to a more laid-back, basic bloke.
“The whole hipster thing has been very connoisseurial,” says the head of Britain-based think-tank The Future Laboratory. “Hipsters are all about getting to know a topic inside and out; especially when it comes to coffee. We're about to see a big change in that way of thinking; I want a straightforward espresso. I never want to ask for a skinny latte, or a double-drip-rare-bean-thingo again.”
Sanderson says this no-nonsense return to functionality will creep into all aspects of men's lives, even in cosmetics for the skin and hair: “It's going to be really simple; no bollocks, just straightforward product,” he says.
One Australian skincare brand already fitting the new mould is Gentleman's Brand Co. “These guys make functional products that simply work,” he says, pointing to their use of bush botanicals, premium plant extracts and pared-down packaging.
The company's website makes much of its back-to-basics credentials: “The gentleman, his skin and his regime should be uncomplicated – free from the over-marketed whatever-washes and false promises,” it says.
“We're very into clean and simple ourselves,” co-founder Matthew Woodward says. “We don't wear logoed shirts, just a nice pair of chinos, a good watch and a nice shirt.”
Men's clothing is also going back to the basics, Sanderson predicts. The most extreme version of this is the emerging 'normcore' movement with its emphasis on understated, nondescript style. However, unless you really enjoy getting around in Birkenstocks, trackie dacks and flannel shirts, you may want to opt for neat and stylish simplicity instead.
“We're seeing the growth of brands that have always done what they do and do it really simply,” Sanderson says. “Our research is showing us huge growth for brands such as LA-based James Perse, famous for its really fuss-free, elegant men's clothing.”
He also nominates Sydney-based fashion label Jac+Jack as another 'no-bullshit' example. Started by Jacqueline 'Jac' Hunt and Lisa 'Jack' Dempsey in 2004, the company launched its first menswear range in 2010. Designer Patrick Blue led with a focus on effortless luxury and understatement.
Country Road, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has also returned to its roots, producing quality basics that can become the building blocks of a man's wardrobe. Managing director Sophie Holt says County Road is making a specialty of updating heritage menswear pieces such as the crew-neck sweat, chinos, duffle-coat, pea-coat and the chambray shirt.
“We're seeing a renewed interest in the style icons such as Steve McQueen, who made these pieces famous,” Holt says. “And what we're doing is updating them to make them relevant and modern for a new generation of customer discovering them for the first time.”
Sanderson says he sees no sign of the back-to-basics trend abating. “I expect to see a continuation of that growth, of the manly and elegant, as opposed to tricky hipster fashion,” he says. “We're even seeing it at the cheaper end; that's what Uniqlo are doing and that's why they are stealing the market on GAP, which has become very fashion-focused.”
Uniqlo, the mega-Japanese high street retailer, opened its first Australian store last month in Melbourne, and a Sydney store is touted to open next year.
Grooming is another area in which Sanderson sees men going back to simpler styles. “I would expect to see a return to a number three or a number four all-over buzz cut,” he says. “No little fringe, no long hair, no short-back-and-sides where you've got all the combing and pomade.”
Andrew Chim is the founder of Sydney grooming salon Detail for Men. Most of his 2000 clients are executives, including many CEOs from top 200 companies.
“Our clients don't want fussy hairstyles, they aren't trend followers,” Chim says. “The faux-hawk, the shaggy-hipster; we don't do things like that.
“These men have to be able to stand up in front of the press and talk about their business, not the way they look; and so they want classic hairstyles that are easy to look after.”