I'm not sure how it happened, but I like to imagine that at some point a couple of years ago, the owls got some sort of memo. "Congratulations, you are now trendy" it would read. Or maybe "Cngrts, ur totes hip!", as I don't know how au fait the owl community is with its text speak. Maybe it would be a voicemail of squawks, or a code spelled out in dead mice on a field. Anyway, I just like to think they KNOW their status in the human world.
Because it is really quite something, the owl's reign as Hipster Animal of Choice. For years now, despite some serious competition from penguins, sloths, horses, swallows and giraffes, owls have been the ultimate animal motif. It started with necklaces, earrings and whatnot, then spread to clothes and homeware and stationery and internet memes and desktop backgrounds and possibly, for all I know, people in Dalston buying actual owls as pets to live in their warehouse conversions and deal with the mouse problem.
But why? What makes some animals trendy, the four-legged Alexa Chung equivalent, while other languish at the bottom of the hipster food chain, at best a cozily strokable Holly Willoughby? Take cats. Cats make up roughly 63% of the internet, but despite all their best efforts – using computers, playing instruments, wanting cheeseburgers – they just can’t seem to make it beyond the mainstream.
Dogs have fared slightly better because there are so many novel varieties to coo over. Wrinkly ones! Sausage ones! Ones wearing earrings! But generally, it seems the Hipster Animal needs an allure beyond the common household pet. They need exotic cache.
Where owls are concerned, we can thank the Harry Potter effect of course. Owls assumed magical status, which made everyone think 'owls. Huh. I'd forgotten about owls', and thus their novelty made them the perfect creature to adorn every soft furnishing from here to Timbuktoo. Also, owls are expressive birds, thus easy to write hilarious captions underneath. Plus, they’re nocturnal and so appeal to the average hipster schedule, plus their startling Roy Hodgson resemblance has managed to extend their popularity for several more months (whether Roy Hodgson’s owl resemblance will have the same effect on his career remains to be seen).
Before owls started turning our heads (though not the whole 360°) there were lions, stags, and a brief flirtation with otters. Next up, for Hipster Animal of Choice for A/W’12, I’m taking a punt on flamingos. They’re pink, they’re kitsch, and in their one-legged pose they could be about to launch into One Singular Sensation from A Chorus Line at any moment. If there isn’t already a Flamingos Who Look Like Lionel Blair tumblr. I’m darn well going to make one.