Authenticity Watch: The Hamptons


Obviously, I’m a sucker for stories that explore the subtle (and not-so) mechanisms of status display, especially when that display masquerades as a quest not for status but for the authentic. That kind of story is the meat-and-two-veg of the New York Times style section, and today’s is great.

It’s summer, so the piece is about the Hamptons of course. How do the long-time locals secretly signal to one another, behind the backs of the tourists and the arrivistes? By their t-shirts, naturally. Anyone from Jersey can pick up a MONTAUK t-shirt along main street, but there’s only one place you can find a Ditch Witch shirt — out of the back of a car beside an obscure food truck:

It signals localism, but a “friendly localism,” said Ms. Adams, who cooked for years at restaurants in East Hampton and Montauk before parking her truck in the sand. It suggests that the wearer is in on something, has the key to what Tracy Feith, the surfer and designer who operates a shop at the Surf Lodge in Montauk, called “the authenticity everyone’s trying to find in the marketplace.”

But now the Times has gone and ruined it. I wonder if the uproar from the Hamptonites will lead the Times to “unpublish” this, just like they unpublished their story about the secret climbing gym in Brooklyn?


Authenticity Watch: The Hamptons

  1. Typo!!! Tiiimes

  2. I love the theme as well. Do you read Bikesnobnyc? He has a great (and humorous) blog that highlights the same topic (status under the guise of authenticity) as it is displayed in the fixed gear culture. This post is a great example:

    • Didn't know about it but thanks v much for the heads up.

  3. Humans seem to have relentless desire to define themselves and others. And feith should be embarrassed for herself, where you buy t-shirts should not denote 'authenticity'.

    • >where you buy t-shirts should not denote 'authenticity'.

      I agree. But what should?

      • "But what should?"

        Good question and I don't have an answer. I was going to say that people should just be themselves, and not worry about where someone bought a t-shirt, but Feith could be being herself by caring where people bought t-shirts. It is all circular, init? The only answer that comes to mind is for people to mind their own business. Wear whatever you want and don't worry about others. But that's not a satisfying answer either because it's human nature to involve yourself in other people's affairs.

      • An indifference to authenticity?

      • How about full nudity? You can't get more authentic than that.

        • Depends on whether your insurance covers nip this, tuck that ,
          reduce this , expand that.
          As a big ol' fat guy I am offensive but clearly authentic.
          As a frog, I'm not sure about you.

          • As a frog, I delight in displaying my slippery green skin as often as possible.