Brooklyn The Brand™ is one of the globe’s most omnipresent upper class stylistic overlays. From Mexico City to Barcelona to Tokyo, chic versions of a semi-fictional “Hipster Brooklyn” aesthetic in certain upwardly mobile/ younger demographic districts are overwhelming. Why go anywhere when you can just go to the most unenjoyable bars and shopping areas in Brooklyn itself and feel like you’re in Oslo or Berlin or Seoul?
No one else has ever made this observation—we’re the first.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Le Bon Marche, in Paris, a luxury department store in a city synonymous with global fashion, is currently mired in a Brooklyn style fever that encompasses not just the stereotypical expensive knit caps and imported Brooklyn food but has even reached the level of brick wallpaper, which is fairly deep on the scale of Pseudo-Reality. And no wonder: “[Le Bon Marche] colleagues ran reconnaissance missions deep into Brooklyn, going far beyond the luxury condominiums of Williamsburg. Several different teams braved the winter cold, combing the Red Hook and Bed-Stuy neighborhoods in search of pickle makers and quirky lingerie designers.”
It’s easy to complain about this sort of thing. We love complaining about this sort of thing! Sadly, complaining about this sort of thing has become so ubiquitous that it’s like... get a life, I was doing that back in the day and now there are all these kids fuckin trying to copy my shit, and it’s definitely not as cool now.
So let’s try to do something constructive about this whole distressing situation. We know that living in Brooklyn is too expensive. In fact, average rents here just reached an all time high. We have an affordable housing crisis—spawned in large part by the very Brooklyn Brand popularity that’s infesting the cities of the world and causing global style to compress into a homogeneous layer of similar facial hair, as if “Brooklyn” were the NAFTA of fashion.
The millions of regular people who live in Brooklyn and don’t give a shit about all this shit are getting priced out. Gentrification in some neighborhoods has accelerated to the point that the gentrifiers who replaced the earlier gentrifiers are now getting replaced by richer gentrifiers. Normal, non-gentrifiers are pushed to the margins. Brooklyn’s real style is getting threatened by sameness, to say nothing of the threats to the necessities of life for millions of middle and lower class people. All because the sort of people who shop at Le Bon Marche want a piece of what they imagine Brooklyn is all about (tote bags).
How can we address both of these issues at once? By exporting not just “Brooklyn style,” but actual Brooklynites to cities around the world. Why should a Paris department store settle for a selection of Brooklyn t-shirts when they could have an entire block’s worth of displaced Prospect-Lefferts Gardens residents living with them and telling them how to get down? For only the price of airfare, food and shelter, and a reasonable living wage, a real live resident of Flatbush or Coney Island or Bed-Stuy who can no longer afford their rent will come to you—in your far-flung metropolitan area across the globe—and show you their very own Brooklyn Style. So what the other cool Parisians have a Brooklyn scarf? You have a paid Brooklyn friend, ready to instruct you on how to write graffiti “the Brooklyn way!”
Brooklynites move around the world, spreading their authentic Brooklyn Brand, easing the housing crisis back here in BK, and making some money for their troubles. Reporters can start thinking up some fresh Brooklyn tropes besides “skinny jeans” and “foodies.” And, after a while, the whole world can learn what people in Brooklyn already know: Brooklyn isn’t as cool as it used to be.