The Ultimate Hipster Guide to London
Ah, London. Home to many of our musical heroes, much loved fashion labels, and contemporary artists. But as Heidi Klum would put it: “one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.” Just like the pop-up restaurants of Dalston come and go, what’s cool in London is fleeting.
This guide will be your starting point; it will point you in the right direction, but the rest is up to you. Secret warehouse parties are secret for a reason.
However, if you follow our advice we can almost guarantee it won’t be long until you have your very own hipster crew who will give you the insider info on a daily basis.
What to wear
The 90s have been back for a while, but is still the most popular hipster-wear of today. Checked flannel shirts, printed crew neck jumpers, crop tops (Boy London preferred), short shorts, ripped tights, creepers or clumsy platforms, knitted Carhartt hats that look like they are going to fall off any second, backpacks, bombers… you know the drill.
Hair inspiration should be taken from Grimes: bleach it blonde (at Bleach in Dalston) and add some pastel colored dip dye. Undercuts also accepted.
There are two major hipster looks going and they have two things in common: beards and tattoos. We can divide them by preferred method of transport: the short skateboard and the fixie bike. If you like the idea of cruising down Kingsland High Street on a short skateboard, then the street wear look is obligatory. You know, baggy jeans, Nike air max trainers, slogan t-shirts and baseball caps. An oversized varsity jacket from Brooklyn is the perfect piece to finish off the look.
If you’re still holding on to your fixie we suggest the good old old-man-look: high rise jeans, braces, tweed, wool jumpers, colorful socks and trench coats. Just pop into one of the many vintage shops in East London and ask to get kitted out. You’ll walk out looking 20 years older. Score!
Where to hang out
Hear it from the horse's mouth! This is what Londoners have to say about some of their favorite places in the city:
Where to eat
Eating is cool. Instagramming your meal under the hashtag #foodporn is also cool. The number one hipster food trend can only be described as new American food invasion: burgers, fries, tex mex and NY pizza.
And yes, McDonalds should still be banned because these new hipster bad-boy burgers are organic and fair trade. You’ll save lives whilst giving yourself indigestion. Score again! There is also a massive tapas-trend going on.
It’s just so chic and democratic to share food and eat with your hands. Take your pick:
50 Stoke Newington Road London N16 7XB +44 20 7254 4102
Simple concept: Tapas and cocktails. One of a few newly opened restaurants with the same concept. We’re guessing it’s because it really is a fab combo, and The Mockingbird has really nailed it. Also, as the streets of Dalston are dressed in Turkish restaurants the idea of small dishes and dips is very close to their heart. A new generation of hipsters have never heard of a Sunday roast, but rather celebrate their hangover from Saturday’s ventures with a mixed mezze.
17 Amhurst Terrace, London E8 2BT +44 20 3095 9731
Situated just outside Hackney Downs Studios The Russet had a hard task on their hands to please the array of artists, graphic designers, filmmakers, fashion designers and photographers who work there. What did they do? They went hyper-organic with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, “no frills” food and a lot of sourdough. Daily specials rarely fail to disappoint.
A sign of warning though: go here in the day time and don’t expect a gang of 20-something introverts writing conceptual poems about their middle class lives, but rather 30-something hip women and their equally hip babies. And dogs. That’s right, babies and dogs. The ultimate hipster accessories of our time. Just one question… Where are all the dads?
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127 Kingsland High St, Hackney E8 2PB +44 20 7254 1177
It is impossible to miss with their colorful collage-style shopfront and cheesy, glaring music. At Mezcal Cantina you can get forget about fine dining and rather enjoy the kitschy wax covers, sugar skull paintings and pretty decent Mexican menu.
Bring on the Mojitos and Margaritas! Should you be here for a hangover cure, the refried beans will work wonders.
Where to drink
It’s quite simple really: drink anything obscure enough that will encourage someone to ask what it is, so that you can look back at them in a patronising way and give them a one word answer. Or drink beer. Beer works. As long as it’s foreign and served in a small bottle i.e. stubbies.
Essentially a night out for a hipster is just the prelude for the main event, the after party, where you can draw the blinds and pretend that all the most creative and inspiring people in the world are in the same room as you. You’ll find the party before the party at:
Dalston Roof Park
The Print House, 18 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL +44 20 7275 0825
You have to be a member to party at this rooftop hipster joint but when it’s as easy as signing up on their website and making a $3.75 donation at the door we’re not complaining. This is not Shoreditch House. There is no pool. There is no expensive membership fee and no celebrity hungry wannabes (although we cannot guarantee this).
Here you can chill, hang, enjoy the view and know that your $3.75 actually went to help their charity doing good things for the community in Dalston. Sweet!
76 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB +44 20 8211 8690
Easily dismissed as something other than a bar, Ruby is just that. And a damn good one as well. It’s located in the heart of Dalston just underneath the retro cinema sign which displays forever changing quirky messages to passersby.
Quality is key at Ruby’s and all their juices and syrups that go into those little delicious cocktails are made on-site. Attention to detail is also important, with their Blackberry Mojitos being served in 1940s milk bottles. We think that’s pretty weird and wonderful, just like all things hipster should be.
71 Shacklewell Lane, London E8 2EB +44 20 7249 0810
A bit scruffy, to say the least, but this pub on Shacklewell Lane throws some pretty amazing parties and always manages to book the band of the moment before the moment has arrived. Cred, we say. Hipster, you say. We agree.
Cram yourself into the back room, ruin your brand new white trainers pogoing like it was 1977, chain smoke rollies in their..ehrm..”beer garden”? and forget about tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after.
Where to shop
Every London hipster knows that Oxford Street is a no-go. That does however not mean that high street brands need to be avoided. As long as you buy your River Island from ASOS you’re good. If anyone asks it’s ASOS.
Having said that, there really is no reason to wrestle tourists at Oxford Street. For hipster-approved unique vintage pieces and independent designers head to one of these places:
Stoke Newington/Church Street
Vintage lovers beware! You might blow your budget. Try Beyond Retro for the latest street trends and re-worked pieces, Mint for a fashion forward selection with focus on quality and designer. Not so fussed about vintage and just looking for a bargain? There are plenty of charity shops dotted around as well! Other shops well worth mentioning is HUB (separate men’s and women’s store) and the record shop Lucky Seven.
Brick Lane & Spitalfields Market
All long-term hipsters know that Brick Lane isn’t what it once was. Gentrification has taken its toll and Urban Outfitters has opened. And whilst we pretend to be disappointed we are secretly delighted that we can pick up our favorite high street labels without leaving our precious East London. Brick Lane and Spitalfields market are still unbeatable when it comes to choice. There are a billion vintage shops here, from the flagship Beyond Retro to super-hyped Blitz.
Independent designers are selling their jewelry and accessories in Spitalfields market and there’s also a lot of choice when it comes to furniture and interior design.
Dover Street Market
17-18 Dover street , London W1S 4LT +44 20 7518 0680
Super cool Dover Street Market is the hipster home in central London. Here you can shop for your fave hipster brands such as Comme des Garcons, Jonathan Saunders and JW Anderson, plus plenty of other more or less known designers. The incredible floor plan inspires both purchases and new style choices. We’re not talking bargain hunting here though, this is more of a spend-and-splurge, and then spend the rest of the day justifying your $187 polka dot socks.