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What is an Eshay? An Anthropological Review of Eshays and Eshlads

If you’re wondering what an Eshay is, we have the answers. Here in Australia, we pride ourselves on our multiculturalism. Home to a variety of different religions, values and ways of living – diversity is woven into the very fabric of our nation. But, in recent years, we have seen one of Australia’s more vibrant sub-cultures proliferate across the country. Dubbed the Eshay (or Eshlad), it’s a trend that’s gripped a significant proportion of the Australian youth, ultimately affecting the way they dress, talk and interact with the wider community. Let’s get into it, bah.

An “eshay” is an Australian subculture linked to brands like Ralph Lauren, Nike, and adidas. Derived from the word “sesh” in Pig Latin, eshays are associated with crude language, disruptive behaviour, and activities like tagging trains and binge drinking.

What is an eshay?

If you’re not one for hanging around shopping malls or Sydney train carriages during the school holidays, you may not be fully aware of what an eshay actually is. In Australia, an Eshay may be identified through their Ralph Lauren clothes matched with a Fila bum bag, who wear brands and use crude language and volatile social practices.

Understanding these practices will allow you to spot the annoying person, the elusive ‘Esh’ in its natural habitat so we thought it was only right that we answer a few questions on the rapidly growing sub-culture that is Eshays. Much like David Attenborough might do if he stumbled across a particularly violent herd of porpoises.

Definition of eshay

The word ‘eshay’ is a Pig Latin derivative of the word sesh or session, which is the traditional Australian past-time of hanging out, binge drinking and taking drugs with a small to medium group of friends. How good.

Urban Dictionary defines an Eshay (or Eshlad) as “the name given to those small dickheads who seem to think they are top shit” and whilst this pretty much sums up the attitudes, there’s so much more work that goes into becoming a true blue card-carrying eshay.

Basically, eshlads are those teenagers who primarily wear Nike, adidas, Gucci and Nautica. They spend their spare time tagging trains, scaring geriatrics and smoking billies in storm drains. With a strict uniform and distinct dialect, you shouldn’t find it too hard to identify the local eshays in your neighbourhood.

How to act like an eshay

Typically, Eshay’s spend their spare time collecting money for the red cross and serving the homeless at the local soup shelter. Nah, but seriously, you’re most likely to find your local Eshays hanging around shopping malls and parks terrorising the general public and making vulgar gestures to any unlucky passerbys. They’ve got the propensity to pick fights with children, scatter Maccas wrappers across otherwise spotless beaches and just generally wander around suburbs pointlessly pretending to be hard c*nts.

Most Eshs are huge fans of Aussie drill rap and worship Kerser as their patron saint. Usually, lower socio-economic class the Eshlads see themselves as a bunch of pint-sized gangsters who would ride or die for their adlays. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that at the heart of every eshay is just a small, frightened child who wasn’t hugged enough as a kid. In their eyes, the only cure is to continue to roll old ladies and ‘unch on with private school kids.

Collage of different images representing Aussie Eshay/Eshlad Starter Pack
Aussie Eshay/Eshlad Starter Pack | Image: Chantel Jane Basford

The eshay starter pack contains the following staples

One of the most distinctive expressions by an Eshlad is the way they dress. Favouring Nike sneakers, polo shirts, trackies and a shit haircut, you’ll spot the neighbourhood local Esh fairly easily. If you can’t find them, look around the back of the local mall and listen out for the sweet, sweet sounds of Aussie drill rap banging out of a tinny UE Boom.

To make it easy to emulate, we’ve put together a couple of staple items that are absolute essentials for anyone looking to join this subculture.

Product image of Nike TN’s
Nike TN’s | Image: Nike

1. Nike TN’s

The most important part of any Eshay outfit is, of course, the shoes. Eshays should be held solely responsible for the surge in demand for the abhorrent Nike TN. Comfortably holding the crown as the most atrocious sneaker of all time, the Nike TNs have found popularity amongst these wannabe sick ‘unts due to their thick sole “making it all the easier to stomp on heads”.

If your TN’s are currently in the wash with mum trying to get the bloodstains out, feel free to dust off a pair of VaporMax’s or even Nike Air 270s (in triple black ofc).

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Product image of Gucci Hat
Gucci Hat | Image: Gucci

2. Gucci Hat

Brand culture is alive and well amongst the Eshay culture and at the top of that is Gucci and Nike. Here we see another staple in the Eshay wardrobe with the lurid Gucci cap. More often than not the hat is a fake bought down in Haymarket, but what isn’t fake is the hard AF eshay whose mullet and rats tail is poking out from underneath it. If you’re looking for a surefire way to get an Eshay to swing at you, go ahead and make fun of his hat.

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Male model wearing Nautica Polo
Nautica Polo | Image: Nautica

3. Nautica Polo

Popularised by Kerser (the sickest), the Nautica Polo is a core component for the Eshay style. Usually stained with a mix of bong water, Maccas and blood, the Nautica polo’s offensive colouring and styling work to detract from the fact the clothes haven’t been washed in over a month. For full effect, make sure to pop your collar and have your top button done up to make you look like some stupid f*cking wannabe vampire.

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How to talk like an eshay

While there’s no official dictionary for the Eshay vocabulary, most of what they say is a bastardised pig-Latin version of stuff you’d hear every day but, to help we’ve put together a short list of their most-used terminology and slang. Throw a couple of these phrases around and you’ll be rolling granny’s with the adlays in no time.

  • Adlay – Lads/Boys/Fellas: Derived from the words ‘lads’. An affectionate term for the idiots who come to roll around sporting Nautica shirts, polo shirts and white caps. like to rob people who are just minding their own good time.
  • Arkin (arcing up) – To lose one’s temper: To ark up or arking up is to lose one’s temper with someone or to get “fired up”, usually in conversation. “You arkin’ up c*nt!”
  • Cuz – Cousin; friend; brotha; homey/homie. Affectionate term endearing someone as if they are related.
  • Earch – The action of breaking into someone’s house or car to either sleep inside (squatting) or steal from inside (burglary).
  • Eetswa – Sweet: A Pig-Latin translation from the English word used as slang or as an act of affirmation.
  • Eshay – The name given to those small dickheads whom seem to think they are top shit.
  • Eshlad – Similar to the Eshay, an Eshlad is those kids who bum around shopping areas, train stations or storm drains, smoking billies and beating up children.
  • Gronk – A derogatory word for someone, usually considered a waste of life or an oxygen thief.
  • Illchay – Chill: Relax or hang out. A term used to pacify someone a bit overexcited or to propose a session.
  • Itchbays – Females: Derived from the term B*tch, this is a commonly used phrase by Eshay’s to describe females.
  • Opps – Police Officers: A Pig-Latin derivation from Cops.
  • Red Hot – Suspicious; high-risk activity: “Nah, that’s too red hot cuz. There’s opps everywhere”
  • Staunch – Intimidate: To adopt a pose (usually with one’s fists between their legs) and intense stare with the purpose of intimidating an individual.

General FAQ

What is an eshay?

An eshay (or eshlad) is the name given to those small dickheads who seem to think they are top shit. Generally, they're young men who hang around train stations wearing stupid clothing and terrorising old ladies.

How to spot an Eshay

You'll identify your local eshay by the way they dress and the way they talk. Usually an Eshay will be sporting a pair of Nike TN's, a polo with the top button done up and an abhorrent mullet. If you hear them speak, you'll notice the strange dialect of bastardised pig latin.

How to be an Eshay

Well, first and foremost, don't be an Eshay. But if you feel this is your true calling, again, don't.