Williamsburg has been hailed the hippest neighborhood so often that the mere mention of such a status elicits an eye-roll. But as we travel the world and track trends, the Brooklyn enclave continues to influence global looks.
Most curious among the neighborhood’s newly arrived denizens that are best described as “the re-enactors”—men who scurry about in cuffed trousers, vests and ironic facial hair, content in pretending that it’s 1940; women in pencil skirts and flats hanging out at places with names like Maison Premier, where they eat dollar oysters and drink absinthe while reading The Great Gatsby. Moving the culture nowhere fast yet steadfastly convinced nonetheless. Alongside the re-enactors are “the homesteaders,” the shaggy men with bushy beards swaddled in heritage plaids and a discrete serving of selvedge. For this most urban of cities it’s a look that’s decidedly rural—an ironic commentary that in reality is probably just a millennial’s stab at masculinity.
This masculinity based in American Heritage has been inexorably linked to Williamsburg and has proven a stubborn trend across the globe. The spirit of the look is finding new vigor in Asia with stores like Beams in Hong Kong and MSK in Seoul brimming with old school looking merchandise. Fashionable European men have also found the look hard to resist, prompting sickening amounts of Red Wings, denim and workwear-inspired outerwear, to say nothing of all the beards across the continent. A look at any men’s magazine, from GQ to Numero Men, reveals that the “homesteaders” are leveling their scripts there too.
Hannah Horvath of Girls fame is primed to do for Brooklyn what Carrie Bradshaw did for entire neighborhoods of lower Manhattan—albeit in a grittier and more neurotic way. Gone are the Blahniks and in are the bloggers who opt for a grandma-chic look of high-waisted pants, dolman-sleeved shirts, a topper and Isabel Marant shoes thrown in to underscore the irony. The surprising embrace of this jolie laide new look is all over the fashion capitals and co-opted by fashionable girls in Beijing and Melbourne.
Mixed in with the bevy of sexy secretaries and girls wearing tights under cut-offs is the off-duty model. She is the rare bird towering above the masses. She wears the universal look for her species: a skinny black jean, rocker tee and an It bag. The most successful among them wear shoes that come with felt dust bags. Those that aspire wear the Aldo simulations. Look no further than the streets of the global style capitals to spot copycat girls aping similar early ‘90s get-ups. And it doesn’t take much detective work to trace the primary source of the influence to the copious street scene shots of Williamsburg hipsters.
In addition to the new residents of Williamsburg, the past years have seen the addition of countless bars, restaurants, shops and even a trapeze school—the latter seeming an apt metaphor for the shifting landscape: the indigenous struggle with rising rents and loss of culture, while the newly landed lead high-swinging, carefree lives seemingly above it all. Whether it’s a neighborhood on the rise or under siege, depending on your perspective; less gentrification than colonization.