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Hipster Glasses is an exploitable image of thick-framed eyewear accessory that is typically photoshopped into another image to portray its subject as a hipster. They are most often seen in image macros with captions poking fun at hipster stereotypes and cliches like “I was into (x) before it got too mainstream,” similar to the way Scumbag Steve’s hat is used to characterize someone or something as obnoxious.
In the advice animal kingdom, thick-rimmed glasses were first incorporated into Hipster Jesus and Hipster Kitty (shown left) image macros in 2009 to symbolize their pretentious character. In 2010, it was adapted into another image macro series known as Hipster Ariel (shown right). For the complete list of image macro memes associated with thick rimmed glasses, check out KYM Category – Hipster Glasses.
Rayban’s Wayfarers were originally introduced as sunglasses by the eyewear manufacturer Ray-Ban in 1956. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Wayfarer style sunglasses were worn by the Beatniks, artists and musicians like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Jack Nicholson, Andy Warhol and Woody Allen among others. After falling out of style in the 1970’s, they saw a brief resurgence in popularity during the 1980’s after being featuring in the movie The Blues Brothers, followed by a $50,000 product placement deal. According to the Wikipedia article on the Wayfarers:
Between 1982 and 1987, Ray-Ban sunglasses appeared in over 60 movies and television shows per year; Ray-Ban’s product placement efforts have continued through 2007. Tom Cruise’s wearing of Wayfarers in the 1983 movie Risky Business marked the beginning of a Wayfarers phenomenon; 360,000 pairs were sold that year.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, thick-rimmed glasses became commonly associated with counter-culture fashion codes and nerd elitism, especially with the breakout of Emo and Hardcore rock subgenres in 2002. Music clothing retail Hot Topic began selling the frames without prescriptive lenses. The glasses saw yet another resurgence in mainstream fashion after being worn by Chloë Sevigny, Mary-Kate Olsen and the vampire Edward Cullen in the 2008 film Twilight. A Facebook fan page for Wayfarers has more than 24,000 likes as of May 2012.
Since the emergence of Hipster Ariel, Ray-Ban’s Wayfarers became the dominant add-on exploitable image used in satires of the hipster subculture. The usage of the glasses became even more prominent with the expansion of Hipster Ariel into other well-known Disney franchises, which was dubbed Hipster Disney Villains by BuzzFeed.
On August 22nd, 2010, the webcomic blog Hipster Hitler was launched by Brooklyn-based artists JC and APK, which featured a daily comic based on the premise that the Nazi dictator Adolf is a fashion-conscious, music-opinionated hipster. A large collection of derivatives can be found on internet humor blogs like Memebase, as well as photo-sharing communities Tumblr and DeviantART.
The catchphrases “you’ve probably never heard of it” and “I was into X before it was mainstream” have also become closely associated with the usage of Hipster glasses and they are most often paired together in image macros.
Search query volume for “hipster glasses” and “ray-ban wayfarers” began converging around February 2011, the same month the Hipster Ariel image series took off.