I never thought of the label as an insult until later – maybe the 90s – when being a NYC insider somehow earned you the wrath of all the people who come to NYC in order to find/buy/live near cool. I won’t call them arrivistes, like this article does, because that’s just silly.
Both groups, meanwhile, look down on the couch-surfing, old-clothes-wearing hipsters who seem most authentic but are also often the most socially precarious — the lower-middle-class young, moving up through style, but with no backstop of parental culture or family capital. They are the bartenders and boutique clerks who wait on their well-to-do peers and wealthy tourists. Only on the basis of their cool clothes can they be “superior”: hipster knowledge compensates for economic immobility.
It’s a pretty stunning observation, to my eye. Of course my hipsterism pre-dates skinny jeans and big glasses.