Ugly is the new hip

Ugly is the new hip

The other night, I found myself making a special trip to the Japanese fashion chain Uniqlo after work to try on a pair of hipster glasses.

I couldn't take it anymore. Everyone is wearing them these days.

At the gym that morning, I found that any guy with a half-decent body was putting them on in the locker room as he readied himself for work. Later that afternoon, at a meeting in Raffles Place, I realised that every single executive in the room, man or woman, under the age of 40 was wearing a pair.

I used to think that my barefaced look simply suggested a stubborn resistance to a fickle fashion trend - something which is itself trendy in some circles. Now, I'm beginning to think it just shows me up as an old man who's possibly unaware of either trend.

If you have to Google the term "hipster glasses" to find out what they look like, you are quite possibly beyond any help that this column or anyone else can administer. But for the record, I'm referring to spectacles with thick, usually black, plastic frames.

Depending on your age, you may recognise them as the kind worn by Buddy Holly, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Ben Folds, Justin Timberlake and so on. Why are they back in style?

Well, some people say they are icons of a retro era that's generally coming back in style - an era that features vinyl records, full-length hippie beards and mid-century modern Scandinavian furniture.

Others will say, though, that's missing the point. For hipster glasses are more than iconic - they're ironic.

I won't even try to begin to explain the hipster love of irony. The way I understand it is that these plastic-framed glasses used to be widely thought of as so ugly that they sucked.

But now, anything that so obviously sucks is cool precisely because it sucks. Follow me?

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