Wearing your eco credentials on your (possibly designer) sleeve has never been more de rigueur. Yes, hippies walk among us again – but not as we know them. Woman reveals the habits, habitats and and hairdos of today’s incarnations.
You remember hippies. They wore flowers in their long, lank hair, smoked pot, took psychedelic drugs, got into Eastern mysticism, believed in free love, communes and vegetarianism. Take Paul and Linda McCartney, for example, who proved that being the most famous pop-star couple on the planet was not incompatible with living off-grid in Scotland, growing your own food and home-schooling – at least for a bit.
And now, thanks to a new dawn of eco awareness and climate change protest – boosted by the lockdown upswing in self-sufficiency – we’ve seen a resurgence of the hippy spirit. It’s not quite the same as it was (though you won’t look out of place in an Afghan waistcoat this autumn), but now there are degrees of hippies, from eco warriors to vegan-curious hot-composters and all the various tribes in between. Here are some you might recognise…
This tribe is very much about healthy bodies, and being able to execute the perfect Warrior One pose is pretty high on their priority list. Whereas original hippies were essentially stoners who lived in squats and never washed, with Yoga Hippies, cleanliness and wellness is paramount. There must be aromatherapy baths, a 100% organic diet, very clean natural-wood floors for walking on in bare feet (and also for the Instagram opportunities). Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is supreme goddess of the Yoga Hippies, demonstrating just how hippy a YH needs to be in 2021. So far we know that a YH practises yoga at least once a day – either in their “yoga garden” or online. She may meditate (also known as “mummy-time” or “me-time”) and is a flexitarian (increasingly vegan), as well as sober-curious and spiritual (with leanings towards Buddhism).
How to spot them: Excellent, blow-dried long hair. Often seen wearing a glossy ponytail, Lululemon activewear, ear buds, carrying a yoga mat and a pricey reusable water bottle.
Proudest moment: Being a doula at their friend’s birth.
Greatest fear: Cellulite.
What they wear: Cashmere and bare feet.
Least likely to say: “I’m in KFC, what are you having?”
Good life hippies
The godfather of this tribe would be Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, sometimes described as ‘a bit of a hippy’, on account of his penchant for kombucha and homegrown carrot snacks, a four-minute cold shower in the morning, having an earring and assorted ropey bracelets, and being big on sustainability. This tribe ranges from keen kitchen gardeners and avid environmentalists to the weekend Waiheke crowd, who fully embrace raw denim aprons with leather straps and slate worktops, but aren’t about to cut down on their hefty carbon footprint (including five snowboarding children).
How to spot them: Their hand-forged $800-a-pop kitchen knives.
Proudest moment: “Roughing it” for a week at a Queenstown wellness retreat.
Greatest fear: Having to make do with only one cooker.
What they wear: Can’t resist an ethically-made linen frock.
Least likely to say: “We’re just concreting over the front garden.”
The children of enlightened groovy parents, they tend to have trust funds or allowances (they’re also known as Trust Fund Hippies), which explains how they get the time off work to chain themselves to native trees. But in many respects, they are the real deal, leading the way in recycling and composting, using up every last leek and carrot in homemade soups, mending their clothes, cycling whenever possible and eschewing all sorts of things that non-hippies consider to be essential, such as shampoo, shaving, au pairs, and schools (they’re all homeschooling).
How to spot them: They always have at least one child in tow; the boys and girls are indistinguishable.
Proudest moment: Giving up heated towel rails.
Greatest fear: Someone asking how great-grandfather made all his money.
What they wear: Blundstones and thick wool socks.
Least likely to say: “Alexa…”
Earth Mother hippies
For a chunk of 2020, they were locked down in their country houses with the extended family (plus partners and kids) and, to be honest, they haven’t been as happy since that time they lived off the land for a year in Central Otago when the children were small.
Of the many unexpected things they have relished during the last year, the best include: making their own sourdough and pickling; sorting out the garden; painting (the walls); swimming naked in the river; keeping chickens; and empathising regularly with the school climate strike kids.
How you spot them: Long grey hair (lockdown provided the excuse) and
a Keep Cup (which lives in the reusable shopping bag).
Proudest moment: Delivering the puppies.
Greatest fear: Going back to WFW (working from work).
What they wear: Clogs (not new to them), floppy linen smocked dresses and aprons.
Least likely to say: “I’m with Trump on global warming.”
Obviously vegan and non-flyers, they will only buy their clothes from second-hand stores, are bi-curious (in theory; in practice, they just don’t want either persuasion to feel excluded), passionate recyclers and politically engaged. That said, they also take drugs, including the chemical variety, shop on Amazon sometimes, order from Countdown (for the dry goods) and consume avocados at a terrifying rate (must we repeat? It takes 2000 litres of water to produce 1kg of avos). Veganistas would follow through and commit to a totally environmentally watertight lifestyle, but they rely on their single-use contact lenses, need to use the delicate washing cycle (maximum microfibre releaser, if you didn’t know) and the dryer (uh-oh) and the dishwasher and Uber…
How to spot them: Bose headphones over super-unkempt hair. Mini plaits. Ankle bracelets.
Proudest moment: Refusing to eat oysters at Emily’s 21st.
Greatest fear: Being outed as having watched the whole last series of
What they wear: Second-hand stuff, hand-me-downs from their mum and friends, and Zara.
Least likely to say: “I’ve always liked David Seymour.”
It’s all about the look, darling. What were once basic hippy attire – Afghan coat, flares, gilets, bandanas – are, this season, the must-haves of the cool and affluent woman about town. We’re talking all the hippy elements put through the luxe Hadron Collider, then polished and tweaked and made a lot more the sort of thing Gwyneth Paltrow would love. To be clear, luxe hippies are not that clued up about sustainability and so forth. They hate the kids being exposed to polluted air or non-organic food, and they do feel kind of hippy because they do their bit for the future of the planet by attending fundraisers wearing fabulous bohemian dresses – or at least they were. However, the housekeeper is still changing the towels three times a week, they still have two dishwashers, there is definitely fur in the house (maybe crocodile, too) and possibly some cocaine.
How to spot them: By their weed vape pens.
Proudest moment: Banning peace lanterns at last year’s New Year party.
Greatest fear: Having to age naturally.
What they wear: Designer bohemian style, but always very tight jeans.
Least likely to say: “I’m really loving my new menstrual cup.”
The proud mothers of 20-something Extinction Rebellion supporters and themselves environmental protesters. Their motto is “Do Sweat The Small Stuff” and they have a permanent air of anxiety about them (why wouldn’t they? We have 10 years, if that) – not to mention a lot of guilt, especially for the 1980s when they were fully jet-skied up and oblivious to the impact of winter sports on the environment. They do have some Achilles heels, though.
They haven’t yet given up the 4×4, for example (the lane to their weekend cottage is practically impassable in anything else), though they feel better about that since installing the hot compost. For the ELHs, every week means making another small step for the general good, and they are being
the change they want to see and encouraging it in their less evolved friends. Also, unlike their kids, they’re trying not to judge (Emma Thompson is doing what she can).
Last December’s small ‘Be the Change’ moment was not buying a real Christmas tree. Everyone felt sad but good at the same time.
How to spot them: Make-up free, harassed-looking, on a bicycle.
Proudest moment: When they all linked arms and were photographed on K’Rd with Chlöe Swarbrick.
Greatest fear: Getting an unexpected visit from other Earnests and being shamed for not properly recycling the Nespresso pods.
What they wear: Toast.
Least likely to say: “Aung San who?”
Text by Shane Watson/Stella Magazine