Friday, August 28, 2020

Strega vs Mori: The Differences


Have you ever browsed the mori tags and noticed a reoccurring tag titled "strega"? The term is often used alongside mori kei and other alternative fashions, especially dark mori. However, although many seem to use the word interchangeably, the term actually has its own unique history that most are unaware of. Today, I want to tell you a little more about strega fashion, its history, and how it relates to mori kei.

History

Back in the early days of mori kei, the Tumblr mori community was very active and always creating and defining new substyles. One of these, dark mori, became quite popular, quite quickly. Many people who enjoyed mori kei and goth fashion began wearing the style and using the tag. However, the rules of mori, while loose, meant that the fashion was constrained. For some, this was fine, but for others, they wanted to participate in the style while having the ability to create freer, more expressive coordinates that deviated from the normal mori style. This is where strega comes into play.

One Tumblr user, Mai-magi (previously known as shortcuttothestars) created the term strega to use for a similar witchy aesthetic, inspired by dark mori fashion, but that was much broader than mori kei. The word "strega" is an Italian word meaning "witch," echoing the core aspect of the style: dressing like you think a witch might dress. Mai-magi had previously been active in the dark mori community, so when the term was created, it was quickly adopted by other dark mori enthusiasts who felt a similar way.

The name saw some controversy amongst users, as strega is often used in describing paganism. Some felt that this use of the term for a fashion style was inappropriate because it appropriated pagan culture. However, these days, it seems to be more widely accepted.

The original posts about the creation of strega are hard to find as Mai-magi's username has changed over the years. They may also have even been deleted. But, for a time, she participated in both dark mori and strega, before distancing herself from dark mori almost entirely, and from the term strega somewhat as well. However, on her Instagram, she still uses the tag to this day. But she no longer promotes it or herself as its creator, like she once did. 

The Fashion

So what is strega fashion, and how does it differ from its predecessor, dark mori? The answer is surprisingly simple.

Mori, while a somewhat loose style in terms of rules, still has a general silhouette and things that give outfits a similar aesthetic. This is not true for strega. The only rule in strega is to dress how you like, and to dress how a witch might dress. That's it! So, to put it simply, strega is anything at all! It is up to the wearer's interpretation to say what strega is to them.

In it's most simple terms, we can say then that mori can be included in strega, but strega can't be called mori. 

By strega's definition, anything dark mori would count under the strega umbrella. Many who wear dark mori use both tags alongside each other. This is perfectly acceptable. As a dark mori coord can be counted under the strega umbrella.

Sometimes people will also blend dark mori with more witchy, or strega, aspects. Such as using symbols of wicca or paganism in their coordinates, wearing bones or other creepy accessories, or incorporating other similar themes.

                                                                                                        (anya-apples)

When things become a bit tricky for the mori kei community is that often people assume strega is the same as mori, and tag all strega outfits with both strega and mori tags. However, this is not the case. Strega encompasses a large variety of styles, including modern goth fashion, casual outfits, punk, and many, many more. All of these are acceptable uses of the term strega, but clearly deviate from mori kei. This makes the use of both tags interchangeably incorrect.

   



Which Tags Should I Use?

So, final thoughts. For those who want to use the term strega, feel free! The style was created to be broad enough to include many fashions. If you enjoy goth or witchy fashion, then this may be a great tag for you. However, if you want to use the term strega and dark mori, or just dark mori, be aware that dark mori has its own rules and aesthetic, and the two, while similar, can't be used interchangeably.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look into strega fashion. I was around in the community when it was created, but never participated in the trend myself. Have you heard of strega before? Would you considered wearing the style, or using the term? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Monday, June 8, 2020

Mori Music Finds: Misc (8)

Hello my deers! Today I have another collection of mori music finds for you! I don't have individual messages for each song or artist this time, but I hope you enjoy anyways and find something new to listen to!

1) You are a Gift from The Undateables Soundtrack


2) 郭采洁 Amber Kuo - 一页台北 (Au Revoir Taipei)


3) ぼくたちの失敗 (Bokutachi no Shippai) by 森田童子 (Doji Morita)


4) おいでよ (Oide yo) by コトリンゴ (Kotoringo)


5) Painovoimaa, valoa by Lau Nau



Monday, June 1, 2020

Trend-ization: How the Movement of Trends in Mori Brands Impacted How the Community Views Mori Kei


Recently, I have noticed a changing aesthetic in mori kei. Gradually, the style has moved from a distinct style that is easy to spot, to a more simplified version of its previous self. This change has long fascinated me, and I wanted to see how this happened and how to properly describe this phenomenon. After some thinking and research, I think I've come up with the answer, and I want to share it with all of you.

But first, a disclaimer. If you dress/think this way, no worries! Nothing is wrong with that, and I am certainly not saying you should stop or change what you're doing. Instead, I'm simply trying to describe how the community has changed and start a conversation about the nature of fashion.

What is "Traditional Mori?"

So let's begin! First, we need to decide what constitutes as "traditional mori" fashion, as opposed to this "new" version I have noticed. My personal definition would be as follows.

Traditional mori kei is a fashion that focused on layers, originally a fashion style moreso than a lifestyle, and was often very detailed. When I think of "traditional mori," I think of street snaps and magazines. Even when outfits were simple or darker in tone, they still had a detailed and purposeful feel. They never felt similar to modern fashion trends, and the silhouette or clothing types always set it apart. It was clear from first sight that it was something different from what you would see every day, and did not too closely resemble even other fashion styles in Japan at the time.

Wonder Rocket Shop Girls in the early 2010s


This traditional style dominated the mori scene until I would say around 2011 or so, with very little major changes or evolutions. Although many mori folk still wear this style, or something close to it, a bigger change has taken place in the community that has gradually changed the fashion.

What happened to Traditional Mori?

I've discussed the deterioration of the mori tags before, and it is true that a lot of the tag is now completely unrelated content. However, I've also noticed a lot of natural-esque coordinates being tagged that are not specifically mori but vaguely fit the aesthetic. This simplified version of the style is what I want to focus on today. Specifically, how it became a larger and accepted part of the style and community.

Natural fashion certainly fits under the mori umbrella (or the other way around depending on how you look at it), and natural trends have often been popular in Japan and abroad. But it has been a recent phenomenon that they were considered by the community at large to fit as mori kei. For example, coordinates that have a natural feel but feature un-mori aspects are now often tagged as such. (Examples include Liz Lisa coords, everyday fashion with a more hipster feel, a person wearing a floral dress, sweater, and boots, and so on.) In mori's early days, such outfits would never have been considered mori, and would rather be termed mori inspired or casual mori at best. So what changed?

My personal hypothesis is the focus on trends that has gradually taken over fashion styles in Japan also moved to impact mori kei. This "trends focus" has impacted many things, and most notably has had a big impact on J-fashion brands. Although brands in mori have never been huge, brands and magazines have always influenced the style greatly. And by studying their gradual evolution to trends based fashion, I think we can begin to see what happened to mori kei.

For an example, I want to examine the very popular mori brand, Wonder Rocket. First, because it has the most online information preserved of any mori brand. And two, because I think it paints a very clear picture of this phenomenon.

Wonder Rocket and Trends

Early Wonder Rocket Store

Early wonder rocket outfits were traditional mori, no question about it. The coordinates posted by the shop girls were also traditional and served to influence the fashion. Street snaps at the time also saw a lot of the brand's pieces being used, and it was very popular and well known. It was the hub of mori in Harajuku. It didn't run the style completely, but it greatly influenced the "street snap" version of the style that most people came to associate as the picture of the fashion. Of course, some outfit shots or catalog photographs were simpler to show off specific pieces, but walking into the store or looking at their website, it was clear that they were mori first and foremost.

Early Wonder Rocket Outfits and Pieces


The exact year that this began to change is hard to pinpoint. However, to the best of my abilities, I believe it started towards the end of 2011. I have come to this conclusion due to a few photos that were preserved of the fall collection from that year courtesy of this blog post. The brand's website is now down, as their store is now closed, so I have to rely on pictures and other sources from individuals who have archived the various releases.

Wonder Rocket Fashion towards the later 2010s


Starting at least in 2011, Wonder Rocket began to move from specifically mori focused, to more mori inspired. Clear signs of this shift are seen in the many shorter hemlines similar to the popular brand Liz Lisa that are released. Additionally, you can see more simple pieces with very little detail. However, at first, it still remains mori-esque. But even that began to gradually change.



Towards its end, Wonder Rocket opened a sister store Momo. (Whether this brand was opened before or after is unclear, but it is assumed to be after. In either case, both brands greatly influenced each other.) Momo was supposedly a sister store, but instead of mori pieces it featured only mainstream trends and looks with a slight natural or boho feel. Slowly, as the stores influenced one another, Wonder Rocket began to produce the same.

Momo Storefront
Late Wonder Rocket Coords
Although pictures of the last few lines released by Wonder Rocket are no longer available, I can say from visiting the site myself in its last days that, before it closed, the brand was almost entirely trends based. When they finally closed their doors, they were no longer recognizable as a mori brand, and instead could have passed as any other boutique.

Wonder Rocket and the J-fashion Community at Large

Wonder Rocket isn't the only brand that this phenomenon has happened to. For example, simply search mori kei on AliExpress and you have to wade through many mainstream pieces to find anything mori. However, it is important to note that this has happened to almost all fashion styles in Japan, not just mori. Harajuku is no longer is the hub of J-fashion it once was, as tourists overrun the area and push out those who previously would inhabit those spaces. Westernized trends are more widely seen than styles nowadays as well. Just look at how few styles have been created in recent years. In some ways, we may have reached the end of J-fashion as we knew it, at least for the foreseeable future.

For mori, I think this change took hold firmly and quickly, and especially became prevalent when western influence began to dominate the fashion. Without a hub driving the fashion in Harajuku, the style became adrift in a way. No longer was the style driven by a small group that dictated what it should be. Instead, slowly, other cultures and trends have invaded, for both better and worse.

Don't get me wrong, this phenomenon is not truly good or bad, but has definitely influenced the fashion and evolved it greatly. As westernized fashion is almost exclusively based on mainstream trends, mori has followed that to an extent. I think this is why we have seen the growth in casual and inspired styles becoming more accepted as the main face of the fashion.

Final Thoughts

For me, I don't mind that the style has evolved. I also don't mind accepting simpler versions of mori that have long existed as bigger parts of the fashion. Mori has always been fluid and diverse, and it's something that I love about the fashion.

However, it is a bit concerning to me that more stripped-down versions of the style are becoming the sole face of the fashion. I worry that the unique aspects that make mori so special will become obsolete for a more mainstream-focused and watered-down version of the fashion. Again, this is not necessarily bad, I just really love the "traditional mori" feel and I would hate to see that version of the fashion disappear for good.

So, what are your thoughts on the evolution of mori kei? I would love to hear what you think! Until next time, my deers.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Cottagecore vs. Mori Kei: What's the difference?




Cottagecore has become wildly popular on the internet recently, and, as such, has attracted a bit of attention from the mori community. Due to their similar aesthetics, many mori folk have begun asking, what is the difference between the two? Is cottagecore just another version of mori kei?

I personally am uninvolved in the cottagecore movement, so when these questions started coming my way, I was a bit confused about how to respond. What exactly was cottagecore? Was it different at all, or just a new name for mori kei? So I went down a rabbit hole of research, and I think now I can safely communicate the differences between the two and what sets the two communities apart.

I will say, one person actually beat me to this, so I will link their post on the subject here, but they didn't go into as much detail as I would like to, so I still feel like I have something worth posting.

Also, before I begin, I want to first say I won't be touching on the various cottagecore controversies that have popped up on tumblr from time to time. I have no idea what the consensus is on these issues or their validity, and as I'm not involved in the group at all I don't feel like I am qualified to speak on these issues. Instead, I want to focus on what the aesthetic looks like and how it is similar/different to mori. If you have questions on these issues or come across them, I suggest asking those actually in the community who can speak better on them than I can.

That being said, let's take a look at the differences, and similarities between cottagecore and mori kei!

What is cottagecore?

Source

Cottagecore is a visual-based microgenre and aesthetic based tag that originated on tumblr. While aesthetics are predominant on many social media sites, including Instagram and more recently, TikTok, the community is thriving especially on Tumblr with a rather large following and many blogs. However, cottagecore content has also seen a rise on sites like Instagram and TikTok as well.

The cottagecore aesthetic, according to one person in the community, is, "all about softness and being gentle, and kind, and nurturing." Another said it is like animal crossing in real life. It usually includes photos centered around (usually, although not always) girls, who live on farms and raise bees and sheep and pick flowers. That is a very concise version of cottagecore the best I understand it. But we'll get into the details of what the aesthetic looks like more in a moment.

Similarities and Differences in Aesthetic

Source

Cottagecore's aesthetic is almost identical to mori, as it has many similarities due to its nature-based focus. For example, both commuties promote a focus on slow or simple living, a love of nature, and similar lifestyles or photography aesthetics (such as cottages, pastures, foraging, fields, flowers, etc.)

However, although the aesthetic is very similar, there are a few, small differences between the two. For example, the mori aesthetic focuses more on the actual forest, and often includes slightly more toned down themes compared to cottagecores always sunny aesthetic.

Source
Let me explain. To give an example, think of mori magazine snaps. Similar to cottagecore, they may have pictures of models in cottages. However, when it comes to pictures in nature, you are more likely to see a model posed in an actual forest, amongst the trees, then in a field or near a farm (although those would certainly also count as mori as well.) Whereas for cottagecore, the aesthetic is based around the cottage, around the bright sunny field, and around the fields of flowers.

This distinction is barely noticeable, and honestly doesn't really matter all that much, but it is important to know that cottagecore's central image is this always bright and sunny aesthetic. If I could compare cottage core to a color, it would be a bright, but light, yellow. Whereas mori's color would be more along the likes of a deep bark-like brown, or deep leaf-like green. Again, a small, subtle difference. To me, cottagecore's aesthetic feels kind of like mori mixed with shabby chic, and topped off with a ray of sunlight!

Some other small differences in cottagecore that are worth noting are that it focuses much more heavily on agricultural life or farming, than mori kei. Also, uniquely tied into the aesthetic is the idea of self-care, and more of a direct connection to environmental activism than mori kei (although many mori do also care about the environment and self-care as well).

Where cottagecore actually starts to look quite different is when cottagecore fashion is involved.

Similarities and Differences in Fashion

Source
Like with aesthetics, there are certainly some areas of cottagecore fashion that share similarities with mori, but these similarities are much smaller. Some examples of similarities include that both use natural colors or floral colors, both use similar patterns like floral and gingham, and both are likely to include embroidered details to clothing, handcrafted accessories, lace, or aprons (although aprons are much more popular in PINK HOUSE style/natural kei than mori).

Source
The differences are much more distinct. Mainly, cottagecore fashion is a very wide variety of styles. Although some outfits may look like a more casual or stripped down mori look, more often then not they will more closely resemble an outfit from Little House on the Prairie, or natural kei, or a 1950s housewife, or even more bold looks with patterns like paisleys. To sum it up, cottagecore fashion is anything that fits the aesthetic, so it is very varied in type and often focuses more on vintage fashions than anything else. For example, a floral 1950s house dress with an apron, or a modern outfit with a vintage twist, would be more commonly seen in cottagecore fashion than a mori-esque outfit.

Again, mori could be considered compatible with cottagecore fashion, but not all cottage core fashion could be considered mori.

Personal Thoughts

The best way I can think to sum up the differences between cottagecore and mori is this: cottagecore is aesthetic and visual-based, but mori is fashion based. The two communities can certainly overlap and exist together, and do with no issues, but they are also distinct from one another due to this fact about their core focus. Despite the growing movement of mori lifestylers, it cannot be denied that mori kei started as a fashion first and foremost, and the fashion is what sets aside the community. Without the fashion, mori would not exist. 

This is why I always say mori is a fashion first and lifestyle second. Some people don't like that distinction, saying that it pushes out those who don't wear the style but still want to be a part of the community, but I think the distinction matters. And I don't think it means we can't have both fashion and lifestyle members of the community. It makes you no less mori to be a mori-lifestyler, but I think we can also still say that what sets mori apart is the fashion first and foremost, whether or not you participate in that aspect of the fashion.

So what are your thoughts on cottagecore? Do you enjoy the aesthetic? Are you a part of both communities? Are there any other similarities or differences that you've noticed? Either way, I hope I was able to explain cottagecore correctly (please let me know if there is anything I can improve on!), and I hope you learned something new.

Until next time, my deers!


Sources


Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Almost Sister Fashions

This is going to be a relatively short post, but recently, as I was browsing some older mori resources, I came across a few unrealized fashion styles. For nostalgia's sake, I thought it might be fun to talk about these styles, and what they might look like! Who knows, maybe one of you will end up making these substyles a real thing?

Desert Girl

One mori person suggested creating a version of mori that reflects the desert. The idea would include shades of brown and cream, to reflect the desert sands, as well as a heavier focus on light layers. It would also probably include less thick fabrics, and lighter cuts more fit for the heat.

When I imagine this style, I picture Rey from Star Wars for some reason, even though I've never seen the movies. What do you think a desert girl would look like?

Numa Girl

Numa girl, whose name comes from the Japanese word 沼 (ぬま) meaning "marsh," is a proposed variation of dark mori. Discussions around it proposed a version of the style focused on dark greens, blacks, and greys. The style would also include more distressed clothing, maybe even with purposeful rips and tears. Basically, it would look like a swamp witch, climbing out of the swamp.

Although this style was actually quite popular in discussions for a few years, outfits for the idea were never created.

Dryad Girls

This idea was much less fleshed out than desert or numa. In short, the idea was to include more fae elements into regular mori fashion, to invoke the feeling of dryads in mythology. However, no clear ideas on what this style might look like were ever given, so it is unclear what it might have looked like should it have existed.

What types of mori variations would you like to see? Could you ever see yourself wearing any of these ideas? Let me know your thoughts below. Until next time my deers!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Substyles Mini Series: What is Casual Mori?


Welcome back to another substyles post. This one wasn't planned, but recent discussions made me realize that there is a lack of information on casual mori kei. So, why not make a post on it! Hopefully, this post gives you some new information and is helpful for you.

So, let's take a look at casual mori!

Common Points

Casual mori, also sometimes referred to as mori inspired, is a substyle of mori kei. Because of its connection to the style, it obviously has many common points with mori kei that tie it to the style. So let's explore those common points in detail first.

1) Natural colors

Like regular mori fashion, casual mori sticks to mori's rules of natural color palettes. Browns, creams, greens, light floral colors like pinks and blues, and other similar colors are the most popular. Unlike regular mori, most casual mori coordinates stick more strictly to these colors, avoiding uncommon colors, to stay closer to the mori aesthetic.



2) Natural fabrics

Natural fabrics are a common staple throughout casual mori. However, they are often regulated to main pieces with other more non-natural fabrics thrown in. But, in most cases, natural fabrics will feature prominently in casual mori outfits.



3) Slightly loose silhouette

Like regular mori kei, the loose silhouette is common. However, with casual mori, the silhouette may not be as extreme. But, it is always slightly baggy and never draws attention to the body or creates a sexy silhouette.




4) Lace

Although not required, many casual mori coordinates also contain lace details. Usually, the details are less extreme and more subtle. For instance, larger, crocheted lace instead of more delicate options.



Differences

Although casual mori is related to mori kei, and can even be considered a part of the style, there are a number of things that set this version of the style apart.

1) Minimal layers

A key difference between regular and casual versions of mori is its treatment of layers. For regular mori, extensive layering is key. However, for casual, the illusion of layers, or minimal layers, are common. Most coordinates have only one or two layers, instead focusing on the silhouette over the layering.




2) Use of mainstream fashion pieces

Although mori kei can occasionally contain mainstream pieces, casual mori makes those pieces the center of any outfit. For example, a t-shirt with a cute nature or nordic print, or the use of your everyday, average sneaker. These things are an easy way to tell casual mori from regular mori.


3) Would look normal on the street (most often)

Usually, casual mori doesn't really stand out as a J-fashion, or even as J-fashion inspired. With its toned-down look, fewer layers, and use of mainstream pieces, it could often be considered a more natural version of your everyday wardrobe. Generally, it tends to lean towards vintage and natural looks from the viewpoint of those who have never heard of mori fashion.



4) Fewer details

Like with fewer layers, casual mori also has fewer details. Details are still important, but it isn't uncommon to see a casual outfit with only small, sparse details, like buttons, a single scarf, one strip of lace, and so on. Casual mori can of course also have very detailed outfits as well, but as a rule, it tends to lean towards simpler, everyday looks.



How do I know I'm wearing casual mori?

So now that you know what casual mori is, you may still feel confused if you are indeed wearing casual mori. Don't fret! The answer is exceedingly simple. If what you're wearing resembles the fashion, but you don't quite think it qualifies as full mori kei, then it's casual mori. That's it. There are no rules for casual mori, or even any guidelines, so it is very much up to individual interpretation.

I hope this helps a bit and gives you an idea of what mori inspired and casual mori is. Do you wear casual mori? I often wear it when I don't feel up to creating full coordinates. Until next time, my deers!

For more information on mori substyles, check out the posts below: