The word "hipster" may be overused these days, but it's still a somewhat useful way of describing a certain type of person/thing/place, especially if it involves beards, tattoos, exposed brick and expensive coffee.
While New York's Williamsburg or east London's Shoreditch may be the first places that spring to mind upon hearing the word, neither place is actually as "hipster" as it might seem. At least, that's according to a new ranking of the "most hipster" cities in the world by MoveHub.
The Hipster City Index ranks 446 cities across 20 countries on five key "hipsterdom" indicators – the number of vegan eateries, coffee shops, record stores, tattoo studios and vintage boutiques per 100,000 people – and Brighton has come out on top for 2018, beating Portland and Salt Lake City in the US.
The popular east Sussex seaside town came in the top four cities in the world for three of the five indicators, with 37 vegan eateries, 125 coffee shops and nine record shops per 100,000 people.
Considering that Caroline Lucas, the Green Party's only MP in the UK, is one of Brighton's members of parliament (along with Labour's Lloyd Russell-Moyle), it's no wonder the city boasts a plethora of vegan restaurants and vintage boutiques to cater to its eco-conscious residents. It's also home to the zero-waste restaurant Silo, one of just a few of its kind in the UK.
Brighton and Hove has a population of around 289,200, a large proportion of whom are students (17,300, although it has an age segregation problem) and members of the LGBTQ+ community. It's known as the "unofficial gay capital of the UK", with 11-15% of its 16+ population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
David Farrell, 26, who lived in Brighton between 2015 and 2017, described the city's LGBTQ+ scene as thriving. "The sheer quality and range of options in LGBTQ+ nightlife in Brighton was particularly pronounced for me as I moved there straight from Moscow. Everybody should go to Club Revenge at least once – that place helped make me who I am today."
While Farrell said he had no doubt Brighton would score highly on the hipster ranking, he was surprised it took the top spot. "What about Shoreditch? Honestly, work permitting if I had a choice I’d definitely move back to Brighton at some point. It has a lovely vibe and as long as you don't take the pretentiousness too seriously, it's a great place to live. I loved pottering around the streets and seeing beautiful graffiti art, and the shops had some lovely unique pieces."
Georgia Murray, 25, who lived in Brighton for three years while she was a student at the University of Sussex from 2010, also said she was somewhat surprised by the city's place in the ranking. "Yes, the city has all the trappings a 'hipster' would be attracted to – a vegan food scene, fantastic gig venues and record shops, vintage clothes and furniture fairs every weekend. But at the same time, it's been celebrating these things for decades, way before the word 'hipster' was used to describe Shoreditch-dwelling bearded men with a penchant for ukuleles," she said.
"Brighton didn't feel hipster when I lived there, it felt extremely left-leaning, activist and hippy. You were more likely to see people playing with fire in the park than you were drinking craft ale, to be honest."
It was the perfect place to be a carefree student, she said, and she would regularly hang out at the beach, the South Downs countryside, the thousands of pubs and clubs, Iydea for vegetarian food, the North Laines for vintage shops, and go to gigs at the Green Door Store. But there were drawbacks: "It's a very white city, so while it has so much to do and see, it's not as diverse as its left-leaning politics would suggest."
Other than Brighton, no other UK cities made it into the "hipster" top 20, although some did make it into the top 50 – Manchester (27th), Edinburgh (32nd), Belfast (40th), Glasgow (42nd) and Bristol (46th). Big cities with populations over a million, like London, New York and Berlin, didn't make the cut because they'd need to have an abnormally large number of "hipster" hotspots.
The US is home to the most "hipster" places in the world, taking 16 of the top 20 spots, with Portland scoring highly for its vegan restaurants and world’s first vegan mini mall, and Salt Lake City for its tattoo parlours and annual international tattoo convention.
Meanwhile, Portugal's Lisbon was one of the only European cities to place in the top 10, owing to its high number of vintage boutiques and vegan food scene, and the Finnish capital, Helsinki, scored highly for its high density of vintage stores and coffee shops. The Helsinki Coffee Festival is one of the biggest in Scandinavia, attracting thousands of cool, bean-loving northern Europeans each year.
The 20 "most hipster" neighbourhoods in the world
1. Brighton and Hove, UK
2. Portland, USA
3. Salt Lake City, USA
4. Seattle, USA
5. Lisbon, Portugal
6. Fort Lauderdale, USA
7. Miami, USA
8. Orlando, USA
9. Helsinki, Finland
10. Spokane, USA
11. Tampa, USA
12. Eugene, USA
13. Minneapolis, USA
14. Atlanta, USA
15. San Francisco, USA
16. Rochester, USA
17. Bordeaux, USA
18. Pittsburgh, USA
19. Las Vegas, USA
20. Richmond, USA
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