Saturday, August 13, 2022

Mori Challenge Draw 2022: Prompts 1-11

Quite a while back, in 2015 in fact, a lovely person who was active in the mori community at the time made a set of prompts to follow for drawing, known as the Mori Challenge. I completed the challenge ages ago on Instagram, right when I was starting to take my art more seriously. But I recently started revisiting the challenge this year. I'm working through the prompts slowly, but I felt like sharing them with you all here, including a little behind-the-scenes info and inspirations.

You can find a list to all of the prompts archived on my blog here. Feel free to try them out yourself! You can also keep track of my art on the art Instagram, forestsandtea_art!

1) Comfort Food: I have many comfort foods, but my ultimate Japanese comfort food has been curry and rice with pork katsu! The taste is so delicious, and it can easily be purchased at any family-style Japanese restaurant. So it was an obvious choice for my first piece. (Also, this was one of my first finished pieces with Procreate! It's been fun learning to use a new software.)


2) Mind Garden: This little piece features one of my (still unnamed) original creatures. The bottle is a stock image by the way, but I had fun making this cute little piece!

3) Furry Friends: Some of my favorite animals are snakes, hedgehogs, and foxes! The kanji says "森と茶" (もりとちゃ/mori to cha) which translates to my username in Japanese (forests and tea).
4) Goblin King: I can't stand goblins, so I simply drew the Goblin King crown from the Hobbit movies. I don't really care for this piece, but it did push me out of my comfort zone when it comes to drawing.

5) Memento Mori: This is a redraw of an older piece with a similar theme. Nothing special, but I messed around with different brushes. Not my usual style and probably something I won't revisit, but it was fun. 


6) Mushroom Mori: I love mushrooms and I love purple! So this was a very fun little piece. It makes me want to draw more mushrooms!


7) Winter Mori: This one was just fun. I just drew what I wanted to and I think it came out pretty cute!


7) Summer Mori: The prompt was to draw a mori swimsuit. I have swimsuits and I hate swimming, but I tried to go for a hama vibe. I left it as a sketch because I honestly couldn't be bothered to finish it.


8) Traditional: This piece is also a redraw from the previous challenge. It has a lot of personal meaning based on an ancestor of mine who had an interesting (and somewhat tragic) life. She was from the Cherokee tribe, so I based the designs on that. 


10) Favorite Color: My favorite color is purple, but I made a simple sketch for this one using a quote of an account I love.


11) Least Favorite Color: Other than beige, I dislike all the shades of colors used in this piece. But it actually turned out fine, surprisingly!
I plan on continuing this challenge in the coming months, so stay tuned for more illustrations! If you decide to try the mori challenge let me know! I'd love to see what everyone creates.




Saturday, June 25, 2022

Bibliotheca June Prompt: Tutorial

 

This month's Bibliotheca prompt is tutorial! Despite never making a tutorial in my entire life, one of the things I am most contacted or asked about is whether or not I will make DIY mori content. Although I don't have any plans to make any of my own DIY content, I figured this was a good time to provide some links to tutorials for those looking to create their own items for their mori wardrobe.

Mori Kei Resource Archive

First, this list would not be possible without the wonderful work of The Mori Kei Resource Archive! This is my first and biggest recommendation for any mori resources, especially DIY and tutorials. It's run by a dear friend of mine in the mori community, and you can find so many types of resources sorted by tags.

Many of the tutorials I am going to share today will mostly come from this resource, so I definitely recommend checking it out when you have the time.

Ravelry

If you are interested in knitting or crocheting, my biggest and consent recommendation for tutorials and ideas is Ravelry This community is full of various creators who provide decently priced and even free patterns for all levels and all kinds of projects.

One creator with particularly mori-able and unique patterns is Tiny Owl Knits. You can find them on Ravelry or their Website. Their adorable patterns for accessories and clothing are super cute and foresty.



There are even a few mori-related community groups on Ravelry. They aren't so active (although maybe we could change that in the future!) but there are many mori suitable patterns shared there. 





There are also numerous individual patterns that fit well with mori kei. A few examples I like are Forest Girl Beret by Regina Weiss and Autumn Leaves Shawl by Lady-Macbeth.

Shopping

On the resource archive, you can find a really good shopping for lace post on how to shop for lace for any various projects and customizations. 

You can also check out a few tips I've posted here on my blog for shopping on Aliexpress, and thrifting tips!

Sewing


This tutorial will teach you how to sew a simple apron dress. 

You can also find various sewing patterns provided on the Mori Wiki by a kind contributor for all kinds of patterns.

Home Decor


This tutorial shows you how to a make a simple but adorable autumn-inspired light.


This tutorial will help you make your own DIY fairy garden.


This DIY shows you how to make a cloud light! I've actually made this myself and had it in my room in the States. 


This tutorial will help you upgrade your dresser to a cute mori look.

Various Tutorials


This tutorial can be used to make a quick and easy loose shawl. It is easy for anyone and requires no knitting experience. I've made one myself for my dark mori coordinates back in the day!


This tutorial can be used for making cute little lace flowers! Although there are many brooch tutorials for crochet flowers, this one can be done without crocheting experience.


This tutorial will teach you how to make your own Peter Pan lace collars to add more details to any outfit.


This post contains a list of Yule craft ideas for the holiday season.

Hopefully, you can find some tutorials here to inspire you to create something fun for your mori wardrobe! I hope you enjoyed! And as always, if you try any of these I would love to hear about it.







Sunday, November 28, 2021

Bibliotheca November Prompt: Change

This month's Bibliotheca prompt is change. Change is something that is often on my mind being a long-term participant in the mori community. I've witnessed a lot of change, good and bad, big and small, in our little community over the years. Today, I'd like to reflect on that and share all the little bits and pieces of the community I've held on to for all these years but never had a reason to post on their own. Hopefully, you'll enjoy learning some little random facts and tidbits.

Community Spaces

Over the years our community has gathered across the internet in different spaces at different times. I've mentioned a few of these before, but I'd like to put them in order here. This order is somewhat fluid as I don't have distinct dates, but give or take a bit this is the order of communities as they have appeared. 
  1. Mixi Group
  2. Mori Girl Livejournal
  3. Blogging circles
  4. Tumblr
  5. Facebook Groups 
  6. Instagram
  7. Amino Group
  8. Discord
Although mori folk have appeared and disappeared across various social media, these were the largest communities. I joined the community in its Livejournal stage, and I still remember it fondly. How about you? What community did you first encounter?

Fashion Trends

Like all fashion styles, mori has had its fair share of trends and fads. Here are few that come to my mind!

Mint Green

For a short period where Mint Green was popular in the fashion community at large in the 2010s, it found its own short-lived success in mori. It was mentioned as something cute to wear more than it was actually worn, but a few pieces by mori brands featured the color and it was occasionally seen around. As the popularity of the color died down in pop culture, it became less popular and disappeared from mori as well.

Faun Makeup and Deer Antlers



This one was somewhat of a mori counter to the popular "OTT" or "over the top" style worn by some Lolitas. Mori folk began experimenting with faun makeup and antler headbands which were often handcrafted and very beautifully made. Looks ranged from incredibly detailed and fantastical to simple additions. Although these aspects are still sometimes used by mori folk, they are seen a lot less often these days. 


The Elusive Faun Collar and Faun Cardigan


If you were in the mori community in the early 2010s then just the sight of these images is probably sending you on a huge nostalgia trip. This specific cardigan from Syrup by Fellisimo x Disney was a highly coveted item for many mori folk. I can remember people making dedicated posts to this singular item of clothing, and "haul" posts dedicated to only receiving this one sweater! People really loved this cargidan.


In a similar vein, for a time fake "faun fur" collars were popular. I had one myself at one point although I didn't really wear it often. 

Zakka


This one is a bit harder to explain, but many mori folk were obsessed with another Japanese trend for a time called "zakka." The best way to explain this phenomenon is the aesthetic of finding joy in ordinary things. Images and spaces related to zakka, especially home designs, became synonymous with mori for a time and were widely reblogged. The aesthetic still has its influence on mori fashion, but the particular term has all but died out in the community. (For more information on Zakka, see this article.)

Community Drama

This one is something mori folk like to forget about. It's a point of pride for many moris that we are a relatively drama-free group, and while that is true, we have certainly had our own share of drama over the years! That being said, I'd like to reminisce on a few notable incidents and themes, but I won't be naming names. Let's all be civil. This will contain a discussion of negative people and situations though, so feel free to skip this section if that's not something you want to read about.

  1. The Fur Debate: This is the oldest debate I can think of in the community. It's hardly mentioned anymore, but in mori's early days, fur accessories were somewhat popular in magazines and outfit photos from Japan. Of course, for those who are animal rights activists or vegans, this would be something they wouldn't want to support. However, the debate was less about "should we wear fur" and more about seeking out and harassing those who were wearing it. The problem became that almost all mori folk at the time were wearing faux fur. So it turned into mainly tumblr users yelling at each other and trying to shame each other. It went on for about a year, before it finally died down. I myself experienced this firsthand when I wore a fake fur collar on a vest and received some interesting dms on my tumblr.
  2. The "All Neutrals and Lace" Debate: This one sometimes still pops up from time to time, but as most ridiculous things do it had its heyday on tumblr. I actually made a ranting post on it once. Basically, the argument goes that some random person believes mori fashion is only white and lace. They then complain loudly to everyone that everyone else is wearing the fashion wrong. This one was then usually immediately shut down by people who reminded them that magazine mori existed, and then those people disappeared suspiciously. 
  3. The Interesting Interlopers: Unlike Lolita fashion, mori is (usually) free from creepy people looking to exploit the community. However, the community has not been spared from people trying to exploit it for other reasons. One notable example I can think of is a person who wore a bright bohemian style and a pirate hat (if I remember correctly) in a photoshoot and tagged it mori. Of course, lots of people interpret mori differently, and lots more misuse the tag with no harm done, but this person's photoshoot was not just tagged but was also shared to every social media around. When one such place where they submitted a photo saw someone giving them some advice on how to improve their outfits (very politely I might add) this person saw red and all hell broke loose. By this I mean they proceeded to comment, message, and rant to every person in the community with open dms on tumblr, made a drama-filled "call-out" post, and proceeded to cuss out various people before swearing off the community as a bunch of "elitists". I wasn't directly involved, but I actually got mentioned briefly by this person even though we never interacted at all and I only became aware of the situation after it had finished. It was a strange time for everyone. There have been a few similar things over the years, usually on tumblr by weird gatekeeping people or people who got really upset when concrit (the legit kind) was offered. Thankfully I haven't seen this happen on any other social media and certainly not anytime recently.
  4. The "Is This Mori" Discussion: Ok so this one is less of a drama thing, and more an annoying thing, but I feel like I should at least mention it. At one point, also mainly on tumblr, all mori folk were being bombarded constantly with questions of what was mori or not. You may remember this time if you were ever on the tumblr community. It went beyond "is this outfit mori" and more into the territory of "is listening to this musician mori enough" or "are glasses mori" (a legit question I saw asked of someone) or "can I be mori if I am not Asian" and "is my natural hair color mori enough or should I dye it" (another legitimate question that I was asked personally). A weird time indeed. These days people usually just embrace themselves and how they express mori personally, which I much prefer to the nitpicked "I have to be aggressively 100% mori" approach.
  5. The Aggressive Lifestylers: Lifestyle only mori folk have always existed, but for a short time on tumblr (yet again) there were a group of aggressive users who insisted that either a) only living the lifestyle was the correct way to be mori and the fashion style was not important at all or b) that lifestyle mori was incorrect and we should exclude lifestyle mori folk from the community. Both obviously hated each other and both were weirdly gatekeeper-y about it. It died down quickly when the rest of the community largely ignored them. Thankfully.
  6. The Name Debate: This one is legitimately funny to me. It had to do with the original naming conventions of the fashion. As most know, mori was originally called "Mori Girl/森ガール" by its Japanese creators. Due to the gendered name, the community began to suggest alternative names for the style, the two most popular being "mori kei" and "mori" both of which are still in use today. However, for some people, the name "mori" was abhorrent. The argument being that "mori" is simply the Japanese word for forest, so it sounds strange or dumb to call the style that. The funny part to me is that the majority of the community said "okay yeah but it's shorter and easier to say so let's use both and you can pick the one you like" and moved on. The anti-mori people did not. I remember seeing posts about this for around years, usually on tumblr. People who didn't like the name were loud and angry about such a small thing. The rest of the community didn't care and just ignored it. Eventually, the name became the main name for the style to invite more inclusivity to the community, and the naysayers have disappeared. I find that conclusion to be quite humorous.

Related Communities

Over the years, a number of other communities have interacted with and even crossed over with the mori community. Here's a list of a few notable examples. You may have even discovered mori through these communities!
  1. The Lolita community (see Mori Lolita)
  2. The "almost sister style" communities of Cult Party Kei and Dolly Kei
  3. The Strega community
  4. The witchy community
  5. The "boho" community
  6. The various natural living communities
  7. The cottagecore community
Did you find mori through any of these communities? I personally found mori while researching Lolita fashion myself!

What ways have you noticed mori changing over the years? I'd love to hear your own nostalgic thoughts below! Until next time, my deers!




Sunday, September 19, 2021

Bibliotheca September Prompt: Fall

 September's Bibliotheca writing prompt is, appropriately, Fall. There are so many ways to interpret this prompt, but I'm choosing to approach it this way: I want to share with you what made me "fall" in love with mori fashion.

There are so many things that made me first fall in love with mori kei, some of them I've talked about online before, others I haven't, but today I want to point out some of the people and aspects of the fashion that really drew me in and have kept me hooked all these years.

The Fashion

First, let's start off with aspects of the fashion that initially drew me in. There are many, but I've narrowed it down to three.


1) The soft femininity: Mori kei, especially in its original form that I first discovered, has a soft type of femininity that really spoke to me and my interests. As far as fashion goes, I feel like mori reminds me of the fashion embodiment of a warm hug from your mom. Does anyone else feel the same? That kind of feeling really drew me in. It is the kind of image I have always wanted to portray. I also just love all the small feminine details that mori often has. It's so cute and cozy!


2) The laid-back lifestyle and focus on the little things: Mori has always had a deep connection to slow living. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I enjoy a lot of "slow living" ideas. (It probably stems from my mental health struggles and wanting to wrap myself up in cozy and relaxed things, but that's neither here nor there.) Even in Choco's original list, mori is described as a lifestyle where small things are valued, like a warm cup of tea, a stroll through the woods, or artistic pursuits. That kind of lifestyle really speaks to me and my interests.


3) The connection to nature: As someone who grew up camping and hiking from a very young age with my family, nature, and being eco-conscious, are incredibly important to me. So finding a fashion style that embodied that, and was deeply connected to nature, was very important to me and is one of the reasons that I have continued to feel connected to mori kei throughout the years. Not all mori people are as crazy about the outdoors as I am, but you can't deny the two concepts are intricately intertwined. 

The People

Although I initially fell in love with mori for its fashion, it's the people and the community that have really kept me invested throughout the years. There are so many people I could mention, but here are a few that have really impacted me personally.

Georgia


I've talked about Georgia from SunnyMorningDiary many times on this blog, but she still remains one of my all-time biggest influences. She was one of the most active mori girls in the international community when I first discovered mori. Her outfit photos and chronicles of her adventures around London wearing mori inspired me to try wearing mori for myself. Although she is no longer around, her mori content left a big impression on me and I still find aspects of her aesthetic seeping into my own to this day.

Shani Deer

Left to Right: Georgia, Shani, and Kimeguredays

Shani was another very active mori girl when I joined the community, but unlike her friend Georgia who interacted less with other people, Shani was pretty active on the livejournal and often posted and commented there. Although we didn't know each other personally, her sweet personality and adorable style were also a huge inspiration to me. She's also no longer in the community, but her impact has left a legacy on me and others.

Kellie


Kellie is a very sweet soul whom I used to interact with often in the community. She was super active and ran an amazing blog. She also encouraged mori people to communicate more, be it in her real life mori meet-ups with her local community, to her active conversations with everyone online. I adored seeing her around the community, and was sad when she left. But her blog, her atmosphere, and her impact still remain impactful on me to this day.

Annie


Another sweet individual that I would've consider a friend, Anie was another active face in the mori community. She was kind, outgoing, and seemed to always be creating and sharing content. I always admired her consistent online presence. When she left the fashion community I was sad to see her go, and I often wish that her content had remained active as it served as a huge inspiration for me back in the day.

Resources

Maybe it's strange to include resources on this list, but I have a few resources that really impacted me and inspired my love for mori fashion, so I want to share them with you all as well!

Ohyeahmorigirl


The tumblr account Ohyeahmorigirl was a treasure trove of information that was immensily helpful for me as a new mori girl all those years ago. I often found myself browsing their hundreds of reblogged images, dozens of answered questions, and links to various resources. I even followed one of the mods (Manon, now an active member of the Kawaii Riot) for many years after the blog closed and she left the community. I still miss this resource. It was a perfect one-stop shop for all things mori related, and I miss being able to link fellow mori folk to this easy resource. 

Mori Girl Livejournal

No list would be complete without the original livejournal community. The community there was so genuine and kind. I posted my first ever outfit photo there, shared my first interactions with other mori friends there, and found my first resources there. The community was so kind and cozy, and I felt right at home. I knew then that I loved this community and wanted to stay in it for as long as I could.

This list cannot cover everything and everyone that has inspired me. There are so many amazing individuals who have gone in and out of the community over the years that it would take days and days to share all of them. But these are some of my biggest and fondest reasons and memories that I fell in love with mori. How about you? What made you fall in love with mori kei? I'd love to hear your stories and inspirations below!



Thursday, September 16, 2021

Creating your Mori Kei Wardrobe: J-Fashion 101 Panel

Hello Everyone! I recently participated in a panel on Mori Kei with Bay Area Kei's J-Fashion University.

If you missed the panel, or simply want access to my links and resources, you can find everything here. Thank you to everyone who joined in! I had a great time and I hope you did too!

Presentation Slides

Links Document

Extra links I didn't mention but that might be useful for you!




Friday, August 13, 2021

The OG Mori Brands


Let's set the scene. It's the early 2010s, and you're browsing on the internet. You come across this cute new J-fashion, called mori girl. Excited, you start to dive into the new street snaps and magazines that have recently been shared, and you decide you want to buy your own mori clothing. So you visit the websites of the many prominent mori brands to snag your first piece.

For those of you who discovere mori in its early days, this probably brought back a wave of nostalgia for you. But for new mori folk, such a scenario would seem impossible. I can't count the number of times people have asked me where to buy mori clothing pieces, and I've had to sadly tell them I just don't know. Now that mori's heyday has passed, most mori brands have either shut down or moved on to new styles. But, I can remember a day when mori was a part of pop culture, and brands were fairly easy to find.

Although most of these brands are gone, their impact on shaping the fashion style is very important. So, today, I want to take a walk down memory lane with you and introduce you to some of the OG mori brands.

Wonder Rocket

No list of mori brands would be complete without the most recognizable and largest mori brand ever, Wonder Rocket.

Opened in 2007, during its run Wonder Rocket was well-loved by mori folk in Japan and abroad. Located in Harajuku, it was the most popular in-person mori shop. Its bunny-head mannequins were incredibly iconic and easily recognizable. Similar to Lolita shops, shop staff actually wore mori fashion, and their outfits were often shared online and circulated throughout the community as style inspiration.

Sadly, the shop has long since closed its doors and very little remains of the brand. However, the staff's official blog is still active as of 2021 and can be browsed. 

Wonder Rocket Store Front in Harajuku

As for their style and its impact, Wonder Rocket sold primarily heavily layered clothing during the height of its mori days. It focused a lot on neutral colors and pastels, as well as leaning heavily into floral patterns. The brand also used a lot of lace. In part, this style helped to create the seemingly "classic" mori look we think of today, leaning away from the more simplistic styles of magazines.



Wonder Rocket closed its doors in 2017, marking mori's official exit from Harajuku street fashion. But its impact on the fashion is still major, even to this day.

Additional Reading: 

Syrup

Another popular brand name in the early mori community was Syrup, also known as Felissimo. The brand is still active to this day, although the mori influence on their clothing has long since disappeared.

During mori's height in Japan, Syrup capitalized on the trend by producing a number of catalogues and clothing lines that catered towards natural fashion. Although their style was plainer and not strictly mori, the aesthetic of their clothing lines became wildly popular with mori folk, and many of their pieces became staples for the community. 

One of the most famous pieces from Syrup is their deer cardigan; a brown cardigan with fawn spots. The cardigan became a wishlist item for many, and was often discussed on the livejournal and tumblr. I myself used to dream of buying this illusive cardigan before the brand faded from the mori conciousness. 






Additional Reading:
Another very popular brand that catered to mori style was SM2. To this day, SM2 is a thriving brand in Japan, although these days their style is much more catered to Natural Kei. I've even seen the store in some nearby malls. However, back in the early 2010s, the brand often directly catered their releases to mori fashion. Some of their photos were featured in magazines, as well as becoming wildly shared as outfit inspiration across the internet. It's likely you've seen some of these images before without realizing they were of SM2.




Their modern outfits, although less mori centric, are still very inspiring. I highly recommend checking them out, and maybe even purchasing from them if you like what you see. 

SM2 Recent Storefront



Additional Reading:

Earth Music & Ecology

Although this brand never directly catered to mori kei, Earth music & Ecology deserves an honorable mention here. The brand has always focused on fairly natural themes, making it fit in well with the mori aesthetic. The brand is still active, although these days their style is much more casual and toned down.

The brand was often shared amongst the community as a place to buy some basic items for mori kei, and the name gained a lot of popularity amongst mori folk. They did produce some pretty easily mori-able pieces, and some nice inspirational images of the style do still exist, but in general, the brand has faded out of the mori scene entirely. 





Additional Reading:

cawaii

When mori started to grow in popularity, a number of online-focused brands began to pop up creating mori kei clothing. One of the most prominent of these is the brand cawaii. The brand is still active today, but no longer makes mori clothing at all. (And no, I do not know why it is spelled lowercase and with a "c" instead of a "k". Who knows.)

The brand cawaii mainly focused on the Wonder Rocket-esque style of mori kei, featuring over-the-top layers and a whole lot of lace. It was a very romantic and soft style, and the brand's pieces are still popular to purchase online. In fact, many aliexpress mori clothing pieces are dupes of old cawaii pieces.



Favorite 

Another popular online-focused brand is Favorite. This brand is extremely similar to cawaii, and also focused heavily on layered and lace-filled outfits. The brand is known for its model poses that usually involve someone sitting in a chair, and for its very romantic and over-the-top feel. 

Like cawaii, Favorite is still active, but now sells mainly cosplay pieces and other mainstream J-fashion pieces. Also similar to cawaii, many aliexpress mori clothing pieces are dupes of old Favorite pieces.

Dearli

The last brand to mention is actually not from Japan at all, but is instead a taobao brand from China, known as Dearli. Although the brand is not from Japan, it became wildly popular within the community, especially the international community, mainly for its iconic model and beautiful photoshoots. The brand's pieces were highly detailed and beautiful.

These days the brand is still active, still with the same model, but now focuses on mainstream girly J-fashion pieces. However, their images of mori fashion are still widely circulated on the internet.





Honorable Mentions

Before we close, let's look at a few honorable mentions. One is the brand Blue Hat, which is often mentioned in outfit run-downs across the internet. However, although I have heard the name many times, I can't actually find any information on the brand itself or any reliable photos of their pieces. I assume they no longer exist as a brand, but I can't say anything for sure.

A Blue Hat piece found listed on Mercari

Another brand that is often mentioned is Franche Lippee. However, this brand is not actually mori focused and has always been more vintage. But many of the brand's pieces were often incorporated by mori folk into outfits. The brand was also featured in Mori Girl Papier, and included a tote bag from the brand with its release. One of their dresses also was widely circulated amongst the mori community. (You can see this link and this link to learn more about the brand's style.)


So that's all from me! Have you heard of any of these classic mori brands before? If not, I hope you could find some inspiration for your own style from these old favorites of the community. Also, let me know if there are any classic brands that I forgot to mention! Until next time, my deers!