Monday, August 22, 2011

Rust Belt Chic: Cultural Diffusion

The concept of Rust Belt Chic as a cultural trend is undeniable. More interesting to me is the diffusion of the term. "Rust Belt Chic" received a big boost over the weekend when Richard Florida Tweeted about Mike Madison's (Pittsblog) post. Also picking up on the meme is Motor Trend magazine. Check out this blog post titled, "Cruising Woodward–the Anti-Pebble Beach":

While all the fancy car folk were burning up their AmEx Black cards in foggy Monterey, us regular folk jammed the verges and medians of America’s first paved street, Woodward Avenue in suburban Detroit for the 17th annual Woodward Dream Cruise. The world’s largest voluntary traffic jam draws an international crowd of a million people, looking to show off and admire what has to be the most diverse and eclectic collection of cars and car-nuts in all of automobiledom. Where else would you see a 30-foot cabin cruiser driving along on a self-propelled trailer? Or an International CXT pickup towing a 20-foot-high perfect scale replica of a Radio Flyer red wagon? Those two passed by too quickly to focus a camera on, but we’ve got highlights of the rest of the ephemera and ecclectica that plied state highway M1 on the third Saturday of August. ...

... RUST-BELT CHIC You could order a new Mercedes, Maserati, or BMW with extra-cost matte paint that comes with all sorts of warnings about car washes and waxing procedures, but the true cutting edge of finish is completely natural iron oxide. Detroit sits atop a giant network of salt mines, so maybe it’s fitting that this new trend is getting its start here, as illustrated by these two very professionally finished rods, each of which wears its Detroit patina with pride.

Emphasis added (as if the all-caps weren't enough). I search "Rust Belt Chic" weekly, sometimes daily. I'm surprised to see the term pop up at Motor Trend. I suspect that its usage is more prevalent than I realize. Like or not, Rust Belt-ness is a positive selling point.

Detroit is not Pebble Beach. Pittsburgh is not Portland. Indianapolis is not a Rust Belt city. The world is turned upside down. That's cool. The true cutting edge of finish is completely natural iron oxide.

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