Today's blog aims at helping anyone who is stepping into a Fairy Kei Kawaii journey. For Lolita Fashion beginners, this casual pastel style will also be a good choice as it can be a substitute for casual Sweet Lolita.
1. What's Fairy Kei?
Fairy Kei(フェアリー系) or Fairy Fashion( フェアリーファッション) is a super-kawaii look with cute-and-colorful pastel styles accessorized with 80's cartoon toys and prints.
2. Decora Kei V.S. Fairy Kei
Both Decora Kei and Fairy Kei Fashion are originated from Harajuku and inspired by 80's cartoon characters, and the aesthetic of 80s shows and themes. They are both a youth Japanese street fashion that pursuit "Kawaii", aka cute aesthetic, by using fashion to break free from social and cultural reticences.
However, unlike Decora Kei, which has a warm-bright color tone and is over-decorated like a walking toy box, the Fairy Kei has a softer, lighter, more "pastel" color tone and has two major characteristics of "Fuwafuwa (soft and fluttery)" and "Kirakira (glittering)".
Fairy Kei uses lots of combinations of pastel colors to make a cute look for anyone loving 80s and 90s fashion. It's a pastel Japanese pop fashion that focuses on a dreamy aesthetic. Fairy fashion is often used as a casual Sweet Lolita.
3. Origins of Fairy Kei
The Appearance of "Sensational Kawaii"
Sebastian Masuda(増田 セバスチャン) who is often referred to as the "king of kawaii" is the pioneer of Fairy Kei. He is the producer of 6%DOKIDOKI, a sensational Kawaii store in HARAJUKU since 1995. He is also a Japanese artist, art director, his fashion idea of "sensational kawaii" made him a pioneer of kawaii culture.
- King of Kawaii—Sebastian Masuda(増田 セバスチャン)
Although the name "Fairy Kei" was not yet born at that time, 6%DOKIDOKI's style was already recognized by the fashion street fashion magazine FRUiTS. This is also the origin of the Decora Kei fashion.
- 80's "Sensational Kawaii" on Harajuku Street:
Evolved from Decora Kei
Shinohara Tomoe(篠原ともえ) was also a pioneer of this style, and from the summer of 1996 to 1998, her surprisingly individualistic outfits caused many young girls to imitate her enthusiastically at first, and the fans that imitated her was called shinora (シノラー). Gradually the fashion wave swept across Japan, men, women, and children competed to become her fans and even became a social phenomenon.
- Shinohara Tomoe(篠原ともえ)
In addition to twin tails hairstyle and flat bangs, shinora's characteristics are more reflected in the decorations: faces stickers, small stars, rabbit head hat, cheap plastic jewelry, animals, and feathers are all indispensable elements. The colors as shown in the picture below, are very bright. Shinora uses warm-bright color as the main color and wears excessive decorations, which is a "decora(an excess of decorative decora)".
- Decora Kei—Excessive Decorations and Bright Colors
After that, the soft color tones and fairy-like wear is called fairy decora, so if you are curious about decora, please click "What is Decora Kei?".
Peaks of Fairy Kei
Fairy decora look once almost disappeared from people's sight, but in 2010 the popularity of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu(竹村 桐子) pushed the Fairy Kei to its peak. Decora fashion changed from bright colors into pastel colors, and after selecting, separating, and eliminating, Fairy decora was able to evolve into today's Fairy Kei Fashion.
- Kyary Pamyu Pamyu(竹村 桐子)
Popular Harajuku model Yu Kimura's love for fashion has made the Fairy Kei flourish, and the brand she created, KOKOkim, is a sweet, cute, and dreamy representative brand of Fairy Kei. Yu Kimura(木村优) is the most pink creator of the world and one of three Kawaii ambassadors. She travels the world to promote her country's culture abroad, specifically Harajuku fashion.
- Yu Kimura(木村优)—Kawaii ambassador
4. Two Main Features of Fairy Kei
There are two main features of Fairy Kei Fashion: muted pastel colors & nostalgic fantasy elements inspired by 80s cartoons.
The color palette of fairy fashion is all about combinations of pastel colors. Pastel pink, baby blue, light yellow, lavender, peppermint, purple, violet are popular colors. Usually, dark and black colors are not used in fairy-kei. You can only see very small doses of some dark or overly bright colors in motifs such as white with black dots.
Pastels and neon-tinted pastels, or high-saturated pastels are a new trend now in Japan.
- Fairy Kei Girl in Pastel Purple
Nostalgic Motifs and Themes
Fairy Kei is a vintage, retro kind of kawaii. As a result, the typical motifs of Fairy Kei are unicorns, mermaids, kittens, rainbows, moons, stars, sweets such as cotton candy, conversation hearts(the chalky American sugar candies printed with a message such as "UR CUTE", "Kiss Me" or "Miss You"), milkshakes, confetti, balloons.
In addition, the motifs are also inspired by cute cartoon characters such as My Little Pony, Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, vintage 80s Barbie, Pusheen(a sweet, curious, lazy, & plump tabby cat which is famous for its image of mermaid Pusheen and unicorn Pusheen), Sanrio Characters like Hello Kitty, Little Twin Stars, etc. Magic girls are also popular themes in fairy-kei fashion such as Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura.
- Vintage 80s Barbie Dolls Wearing Fairy Kei Outfits
Nowadays, girls tend to finish their "fantasy style" by emulating the vibes from Shōjo manga (少女漫画), which is also a splendid try for anyone who loves Japanese manga.
- Examples of Fairy Kei Coord:
5. Two Branches of Fairy Kei: Yume Kawaii & Yami Kawaii
The Fairy Kei has evolved and gradually divided into two branches: Yume Kawaii and Yami Kawaii.
Yume Kawaii combines the phrases "Yume" and "Kawaii." Yume means "dream" while Kawaii means "cute". It's usually seen as more of an aesthetic than strictly a fashion. Yume Kawaii is similar to Fairy Kei but covers more on modern styles and features motifs related to Japanese pop cultures such as magical girls, shojo manga, etc. In general, Yume kawaii is a feeling of the outfit that is dreamy and fairytale-like.
Amo is the leading model of YUME kawaii. She coined the concept of "Yume Kawaii" on her blog in April 2013 to describe a cute single that is weary of life and full of fantasy at the same time. Her stylebook Amoscream was released in purple and pink is the main color, showing the sugary darkness to the fullest.
- Amo's stylebook
YUME kawaii does not have a fixed form, it can only be said that it is a new fashion of the time with pastel colors as the main tone and more elements such as flying horses, unicorns, starry sky, angel's wings, candy, magical girls.
The phrase is picked up by independent idol Ichigo Rinahamu again until 2015. She describes her vision of Yume kawaii as Fairytale+ Yami("sickness")= Yume Kawaii. The almost contradictory two styles cleverly blended into one.
- Ex-BiS member Ichigo Rinahamu—“Strawberry Princess”
- Examples of Yume Kawaii Coord:
Yami Kawaii is a "sick-cute" aesthetic that was derived from Yumekawaii. Yami(病み) means "sick" or "mentally anguished" in Japanese and is used to refer to mental health issues and darker themes. Yami Kawaii is a way to incorporate slight darkness into your outfit, as lovely as it may seem.
The spread of Yami Kawaii is usually considered to be particularly helped by the characters and the manga series "Menhera-chan".
You can have a Yami twist on your pastel outfit by using needles, melting patterns, warning signs, chokes, "offensive" text(such as "Kill you"), depressing text like" I want to die", cute band-aids, "nightmarish" patterns, and evil characters, all in pastel.
The key to finishing a Yami kawaii coord is to add some dangerous or slightly depressing elements by using accessories such as fake guns, syringes, gas masks, skulls, pink blood, pills, bandages, syringes with blood leaking, and bandages wrapped around the wrist.
Examples of Yami Kawaii Coord:
Yume Kawaii V.S. Yami Kawaii
As you can see from the picture below, the difference between Yume Kawaii and Yami Kawaii is that Yume Kawaii is a pastel, fairytale, fantasy-like, and dreamy fashion while Yami Kawaii is a sick-cute kawaii aesthetics featuring slightly depressing elements in pastel colors.
6. Fairy Kei Brands
If you go deeper into Fairy, you will find that Fairy does not have a specific style. It is essential to know the important brands in addition to the key figures.
ManiaQ is a "pastel and cute"Japanese fashion brand known for selling pastel backpacks, cute character t-shirts, and colorful tulle skirts. Unfortunately, this brand closed its shop, which has been in Harajuku for 15 years, in 2011, but I look forward to the return of its online store!
Nile Perch is a fairy kei brand that is very popular among girls, as it is dedicated to making the store a toy box for girls, with a wide range of handmade clothes, groceries, and vintage dolls. It has existed for more than twenty years, when it only sold polo shirts with fish patterns, before gradually transforming into a Fairy-Kei-based brand, so it is not surprising that the store's retro 80s dolls (ponies, teddy bears, Barbies, etc.) have high ratings.
SPANK! is one of the original 1980s-inspired super-kawaii fashion brands in Tokyo. Although defined as a Fairy brand, it actually focuses on second-hand pop and rock, mixing modern creativity with 1980s toys and imagination.
This vintage and repurposed vintage boutique's founder is Sayuri Tabuchi, aka Tavuchi, who is a well-known fashion figure in Tokyo. This brand uses lots of darker colors like black which is not suitable for Fair Kei, but sometimes you can find something great for your Yami kawaii outfits.
Colorful Mix-and-Match Pastel Style on SPANK!'S 9th Anniversary Party:
Strawberry Planet & Mello
Young Japanese designers Moco & Tomo found these two indie fairy kei fashion brands Strawberry Planet and Mello. Mello is a fairy kei clothing line, while Strawberry Planet features cute colorful accessories to compliment the fashion coordinates.
7. Other Pastel Look
Uchuu(宇宙) means "universe" in Japanese. Uchuu Kei is a substyle of fairy kei which has a focus on outer space and alien motifs. It combines a typical pastel look with fluorescent colors and artificial materials like PVC to create an unusual "Uchuujin(alien)" look.
The make-up also often features unusual colors. Accessories often include space helmets, fluffy legwarmers, vinyl fabric, headbands, and futuristic headphones.
Other Pastel Street Looks
Despite Yume kawaii and Yami kawaii street look, you can also find other pastels look such as Yuma kawaii oversized look and pastel lolita look.
Here are some coords from the street that you may have some inspiration from.
Click Fairy Kei Clothes and Accessories Collection to put together your creative pastel look.
8. Cultural Appropriation: I'm brown/black, can I wear Fairy Kei?
Of course you can wear it! Just like other normie fashion, it's just clothing we are wearing. Harajuku Fashion is a challenging fashion that you can show yourself by wearing anything "loud" and special. This is a way to spread our spirit and our love for this wonderful world.
You can wear fairy kei because it can be your call for breaking your regular dress code. Or, you just feel good by wearing this kind of cute pastel street fashion.
9. 5 Top Tips on How to Dress as Fairy Kei
1). Find a Cute Pastel Top with Motifs First
Initially, you should find a pastel top with motifs. It could be any top, a T-shirt, a sweater, or a sweatshirt. The motifs can be prints of your favorite cartoon characters or other 80's nostalgic prints.
2). Stick to the Same Color
For example, I choose a white t-shirt with a cute baby blue ice cream print. What I can do is pick out colors in the t-shirt and try to match with other items of clothing. A sheer blue tulle skirt would be great to pair with the t-shirt.
3). Take Inspirations from the Print
If you are not sure about today's main theme, it's efficient to take inspiration from the prints of the top you have chosen. So, we have a t-shirt with ice cream prints. How about accessorizing it with a pair of dripping paint thigh socks. Or you can DIY your platform shoes with some dripping ice cream elements.
4). Pick One Feature and Stick to it
Fairy Kei Fashion tends to have fewer rules and regulations than Lolita Fashion, but there is also one rule that needs to follow: Never put too many features in one time. If you have already used a pastel top with glammed color then don't use outwear with a bright color or extra prints. It will distract your attention from the prints on the pastel top, and make people confused about your theme.
5). Shop Wisely and Be Creative
Shop after putting on a full pastel coord is always a wise way to avoid impulsive shopping. Otherwise, you could be frustrated because you can't find the right match with items you've already had.
Last but not least, you don't have to stick to one mode when coordinating and try to be creative. You can follow the latest trend to fresh yourself. Or, you can take inspiration from everything. It feels very fulfilling when you put together your own spin on a style that nobody had tried before.
This is the end of my blog, and I really hope this top 9 knowledge of Fairy Kei Fashion will help you. Do you have any other ideas about Fairy Kei, leave us a comment!