Published on July 28th, 2015 | by Kate Ellis5
Is Reading becoming hipster?
Lately, it feels like there has been a mass exodus from Camden to Reading. Not a day goes by when I don’t see young men sporting Peaky Blinders haircuts, beards Captain Birdseye would call excessive and new see trendy pop-up stores and stalls opening around town. It makes one wonder whether Reading is becoming hipster?
Looking at some of the businesses that have opened in the past few years, it certainly seems to be the case. 58 Barbershop on Kings Road offers a ultra-trendy twist on a classic barbershop, RYND with its cult film nights, Bandoake and distressed look, even Five Guys which has convinced people that a McDonalds meal is worth paying £8 for.
Many new stores and shops opening seem to rely on some form of novelty, irony or manufactured trendiness to get people interested. Sites like Alt Reading could be argued to cater to the hipster crowd – shunning the mainstream for independent shops and underground arts and culture.
Even existing bars, restaurants and cafes seem to be following similar trends: good luck trying to find a pub or bar to eat at if you don’t like American barbecue or ‘street food’. Places like the Oakford Social Club or The Purple Turtle – which once were called called hipster – now seem pretty normal.
If Reading is becoming hipster – what is driving is the change? The recent rise in living costs and new developments such as Crossrail seem to suggest that Reading is becoming an overspill for London. Reading’s population is younger than the national average, so it is possible that many young creative types who are priced out of London may find themselves commuting into the city from Reading.
However, in Reading we have a problem with always comparing ourselves to London. If we look beyond the city we can see that Reading isn’t becoming more hipster, it is that hipster has become mainstream.
The beards, microbreweries and obsession for coffee shop are trends you can see mirrored in most major towns and cities across the UK. Although it is easy to be critical of hipsters, they tend to be the trend-setters which most of us end up following. The proliferation of Deep South food and sweet potato fries aren’t just limited to Reading but to most places in the country.
Reading has always had a certain ‘hipster’ element, a few bars and venues where the town’s hip young crowd tend to flock to – and that hasn’t changed much. Being a hipster is not just about a haircut or taste in music, it’s about being a part of a certain group of people that have existed for decades. Individuals who shun the ‘mainstream’ to try to find interesting and unique things no one knows about – even though Reading isn’t becoming hipster it has always had that element.
Image from Christoper Michael.