What appears to be your baby-booming great uncle striding over the horizon in tucked plaid and dark denim is not. It’s your friendly neighborhood Bohemian on his way to the folksiest show he can spend his coffee shop wages on.And I wouldn’t dream of ruling myself out.
I find myself scouring thrift stores for fat plaids on flannel and skinny dark jeans, pulling shots for the bleary eyed masses, listening to the folksy root tunes that are rambling down the line and loving every second. I am that hipster. But where did this American redux start? Who told college students to rummage through the moist boxes lining their grandparents’ basements for anything reminiscent of James Dean? What is this “Americana” stuff?
“Things associated with the culture and history of America,” is www.encyclopedia.com’s definition of “Americana.”
Perhaps the intermittent cyclical nature of fashion has merged the ’50s A-type male with anyone looking to break free of press knit shirts and skinny ties. A reemergence of masculinity is being wrought in the hippest crowds with white V-necks and boots, but just enough to stay fresh. Half a century old, but fresh.
With this stream of simplicity, clothes are only one facet of pop culture getting back to basics. More folk musicians are emerging as notable crowd pleasers, like She and Him, Justin Townes Earle and Bon Iver, all relying on the most tried and true musical standards trickling down from Bob Dylan and the like.
Politics are even affected by the youth’s earthy luster. The Obama campaign frequented the term “grass roots” in its final leg. That green, pastoral mantra may have been just the right hook in the bandana filled back pockets of the new Americana youth.
“Thirty-three percent of young white voters self-identified as ‘Democrat,’ and yet, 54 percent voted for [Obama],” stated Circle, a research center studying youth civic engagement and education. Circle found the same trends in Black and Latino voters. The support for Obama seemed, Circle said, to cross both racial and party boundaries.
Americana is what we were and what we are finding again. If it is in response to the gradually tiresome Euro-fashions that immigrate west, a discovery of personally crafted stability in an ever-changing global community or fringe from a green youth recycling their paternal fashions, it is something joyously revived and to be loved.
Put on your Wayfarers and look to the sunny, green Americana future.