What is current hippie zeitgeist? Most people don’t have a lot of German words in their vocabulary so we will begin with a little definition. Zeitgeist means the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time. Most of us are aware that they heyday of the hippie period was the 1960s. Most of the iconic things that people think of when they hear the word hippie are from that tumultuous period: counterculture, psychedelic drugs, Woodstock, The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, The Summer of Love (1967) and the Beat Generation. And two locations are also closely associated with the hippie period: Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco and Greenwich Village in New York.
We thought it would be useful to delve into the history of hippies and why the concept has proved so enduring. The Oxford English Dictionary has a stark definition of the word hippie: “A hipster; a person, usually exotically dressed, who is, or is taken to be, given to the use of hallucinogenic drugs; a beatnik.”
Evolution of the hippie term in popular culture
The term hippie was an offshoot the word hipster. As Howard Smead describes in his book Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty, the term as we know it was, appropriately enough, coined by a writer for the San Francisco Examiner, Michael Fallon, in a September 1965 article. Fallon was contracting Normal Mailer’s term “hipster.” The Google Ngram below shows the progression of the word appearing in printed works over the last two centuries. Note that the word hipster itself never really took off in the ‘60s. And beatnik originally saw more usage than hippie, but quickly burned out.
Although Fallon popularized the use of the term in 1965, the word really began to enter the lexicon in 1959. New Departures magazine wrote in 1959, “Hippie is variously understood as a freshman hipster, a teenage drop-out or even a with it deb or Henry.” Robert Reisner’s book The Jazz Titans, published in 1960 called a hippie, “A young person who is trying to put on hip airs, but doesn't quite make it.” An early reference to hippie in 1961 can be found in the Proceedings of the Western Forestry and Conservation Association, who were apparently not big fans, “A hippie is a person who screams like Tarzan, looks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.” It took several years for the term to become popular in among East Coast elites. The New Yorker didn’t use the term until April 1, 1967, but once they started, the word appears quite frequently in the magazine.
The Hippie Renaissance
What is equally as interesting as looking at the origin of the term is its current renaissance. While one would have expected that the term was widely used in the mid to late sixties and early seventies, it is also intuitive that the usage of the term dropped off precipitously in the early 1980s. What is shocking is that the term is used now more than it ever was. It is a hippie renaissance!
While you can see other similar words like yuppie and beatink trailed off, what is behind the hippie renaissance? We think the answer lies in three places:
1. Nostalgia for the more carefree and less stressful lifestyles of the 1960s, particularly among those who came of age during that time.
2. The birth of new “hippie,” movements, whether they are a new focus on healthy living, yoga, craft products, holistic wellness, and the legalization of marijuana. The new touchstone for the current hippie movement is Brooklyn, where everything and everyone is cool!
3. As a counterbalance to the rise of social media with its 24/7 demands, its feeding of empty calories and self-gratification, and the realization that we are destroying the planet with our throw-away consumer society and global warming.
It was the renaissance of the hippie movements with its multiple parts that was the germination of the idea for Stately Wear. Our brand represents everything you love, with a vibe of respect for people and planet. Our products are loved by both men and women across all age groups and our print-on-demand structure eliminates waste and is environmentally friendly. Each design speaks to the authenticity in your life, whatever you love: yoga, coffee, surfing, going to the beach, or an affinity for your state, country, or city, Stately Wear has a design and product that allows you to show off your passion!
We categorically disagree with the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of hippie, as the majority of our clients don’t dress exotically or take hallucinogenic drugs. The old definition is stale. Out with the old hippie and in with the new hippie.
Hippie never looked so good!