The real reason why money can’t buy you freedom

The rise and fall of lifestyle branding

In the history of post-industrial mankind, we have seen different movements of groups of people escaping conservative, controlling and rigid conventions. The hippie movement from the sixties is one of the more recent and definitively most vibrant expressions of this need of moving closer to authenticity, sexual expression, expanding awareness and, let’s just name it, freedom. It evolved into a worldwide lifestyle. And in the capitalist Western part of the world, most lifestyles gets hijacked by money and branded into products. The marketing around it than behold the promise of the authentic value that the lifestyle originates from. In a way this is happening to Europe right now, where its rich history is packaged into city tours to Chinese and Japanese tourists resulting in the local population moving away from these city centres and only the product remains; the canal tour through Amsterdam or the medieval ‘Experience’ in the Barrio Gothico in Barcelona. The package becomes a product sold as an experience without a real authentic soul.

Most things sold as ‘experiences’ are a capitalized echo of its original uniqueness.

On Ibiza, a unique mix of the hippie lifestyle, and the chiqueness of money has resulted in a new kind of lifestyle: Hippie chic. What is the real freedom in there?

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The word Hippiechic brings two worlds and to words together. Hippie and Chic. Hippie is the movie HAIR, flower painted Volkswagen Beatles, guitar playing on the beach with a joint and no worries on your mind. Hippie is the first 20 minutes of the movie ‘BLOW’ with Jonny Depp. This freedom movement seems to originate from California from where it swept the world in a free love Hairy Flowerpower lifestyle. The flagship of this wave became flowery clothing, music and smoking joints. Chic is a French word and means everything in between elegance, style and money expressing itself in beauty. How exactly did these 2 worlds come together to create one word: HippieChic?

Over time, the Hippie lifestyle became associated with Ibiza, and the white pearl in the Mediterranean is widely known as ‘hippie’ island. This is, obviously, since the hippie discovered Ibiza. On the other hand, or should I say side, Ibiza also became excessively chic. A complete brand has been created around the Yachts, pool parties with well-dressed globetrotters (well, at the beginning of the party), famous DJ’s playing on world-famous clubs etc. The result of these 2 worlds colliding, sliding and intertwining on an island of 30–45 KM: Hippie + Chique = Ibiza

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Let’s dive a little deeper here. First of all, the hippie movement has developed from that first Californian momentum and has become a clothing, music and lifestyle brand. Since everything that is a lifestyle can and must be branded. The hippie lifestyle still stands for freedom, bright floral printed patterns, patchwork fashion, people with sandals and long hair. So here we have the situation that the Brand is flourishing, but are there still hippies out there? It was cool to be a hippy in the 60ies, you might be a loser without money in 2019. Rest assured, there are still real hippies in Ibiza

A short history
When the first artists came to Ibiza around the 50ies in the last century, many farmers gave them empty small houses on the hills, or casitas, in return for a painting. When they went to the local bar to eat, the way to pay the tab after a while was with a painting. This is the reason there are many bars in Ibiza that are stuffed with paintings with quite different styles and subjects. For centuries, there have been ‘real’ hippies on Ibiza. The brand PACHA is a direct result of this lifestyle. In fact, one of the DJ’s that started the FLOWER POWER evening in PACHA in 1967 still plays in this world-famous club in the same theme night and apart from digital music, he does use the almost extinct music cassettes that must be 30 years old now.

The modern-day hippie still embraces the inner call to freedom, but the outward expression doesn’t need to fit that goal directly.

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In the 60ies, people came out of a very conservative and post-war rebuilding society with many fears around sexuality and freedom. The style of clothing was really tight and traditional and functional. It was needed to express the new found freedom of expression in the way people where dressed. In those epic days, it was really revolutionary to listen to the Beatles, grow your hair and go to Woodstock. Now, the hippie BRAND is adopted by CHIC people. It is not uncommon in some Ibiza shops to pay up to 250 euro for a very well designed floral summer skirt or dress. Real hippies can’t pay this amount of money, but CHIC people can. Leather handmade boots with colourful ornaments, floral silk and cotton shirts with Indian patterns hand stitched into it, the occasional feathers in your hair. It is all the same expression of the hippie lifestyle that has evolved into a call for, I would say, inner freedom.

But the rich and wealthy, or just the people that choose to spend €200 or more for a simple piece of fabric, are buying an echo of something authentic. It is impossible to buy a lifestyle when in the core of your being, you are not a true and authentic expression of that lifestyle, values and culture. You might have a longing though to what experience is sold to you. And in the case of the hippiechic, this is freedom.

After the hippie wave came Osho, New Age and Spirituality is still on the rise. The quest for individual freedom continues, and different other lifestyles have risen from this. For example BOHO. This word originates from Bohemian Homeless. Not many women in their 20ies and 30ies like to be a real bohemian without a home, but hundreds of millions are spent to purchase the echo of this lifestyle. And there are more Bohemian Rhapsodies out there. The real roughness of the Punk movement, the statement culture with Jonny Rotten’s Sex Pistols, squatting buildings and being ANTI everything transformed into catwalk shows by Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier and Edward Scissorhands movies. The essential question remains: what will the next freedom wave expressed in clothing, culture and behaviour?

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I have no idea. Maybe the movement of decentralization with crypto as its expression one day becomes a brand. That in itself is a Contradictio in terminis because decentralization is moving away in its core value of everything that is pyramid based capitalist. And it is a new call for freedom for humanity.

Will the decentralizers be the hippies of a new peer to peer generation?

Will they express themselves in a new unique way of clothing, music and a specific style of living? Time will tell. All I know is that people that got suddenly bitcoin billionaires buy a red Lamborghini, the crypto-punk statement of financial freedom through technology.

Looking back it is safe to say that Hippie, Boho, Punk and other lifestyles that got expressed in clothing still live on as strong brands that are connected to the universal song of freedom. That song will always find new ways of expression, beyond the capitalization of the lifestyle that comes along with it. It is like a bird that can’t be caged into products, experiences and price tags.

Freedom, in the end, is priceless.

Lucien Lecarme, may 6th, 2019

Rebellious Visionary writing stories to empower you to live a passionate life in joy & inspiration. Author of The Wisdom Keeper:

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