Last week, I presented my midterm report in front of my whole class! What an experience! I tend not to share a lot about my academic life online. 2019 marks my fifth year of being in college. I attend Columbia part-time, and I study fashion. Fashion Studies with a Concentration in Product Development with a minor in Social Media + Digital Strategy is what I want my degree to read when I someday graduate from Columbia College Chicago.
This semester I am taking a class required to graduate in my major called “Trendspotting.” Trendspotting is the research methodology used to merchandise and design products for the fashion industry, but it goes beyond fashion. I’ve been reading Vogue, listening to Faith Popcorn and watching super bowl ads, among other tasks, to read into the themes (and trends) happening currently in our times.
For our midterm, my class was asked to define a microtrend as it considers the demographics, cultural context, relevant PESTEL factors, and current trends of the relevant industry. Then we needed to future forecast with refined research backing up our predictions.
My microtrend was fairy-kei! I defined fairy-kei as a youth subculture trend that thrives at the intersection of childhood nostalgia and sustainability for queer adult otakus. My final report presented successfully, and I’m excited to share it here on jessimoonheart.com exclusively! I loved researching jfashion and interviewing my friends.
I’m sharing this here for you Unicorns because I know many of you dress in pastels, jfashion, lolita and fairy-kei like me. I hope you’re inspired to tie your academic pursuits with your passions. I wish you the most success in working on your dreams!
These glossy pages are from Fruits; an alternative street style magazine from Japan. On the left is an advertisement for Spank!, an upcycled 80s pop aesthetic fashion shop.
Yui, on the right, is wearing a lot from Spank and styled her childhood camisole as a negligee. She also made her own bag.
Spank! Marks the establishment of fairy-kei as a youth subculture trend, one that thrives at the intersection of childhood nostalgia and sustainability for queer adult otakus.
This is Kamilah Jones, a 27-year-old asexual female who dresses in multiple jfashion substyles. She’s wearing multiple garments obtained from clothing swaps styled with leggings from her brand. Hard Decora promotes aggressive cuteness to protect the individuality of Harajuku kids.
This is Hayden Lee, a 21-year-old plus-sized transgender male who currently studies radio at Columbia. Hayden dresses as a magical mahou shounen boy or in all gothic black. The right look shows him wearing a sweater and pins that playfully empower his gender identity, coordinated with second-hand garments.
Hayden and Kamilah record O-Kei Podcast at Columbia, discussing topics and issues that occur at the intersection of fashion, identity, and community. The podcast is inclusive of all alternative Japanese street styles.
This is Bunny, a 21-year old, fat, non-binary person from Indiana. They are an artist and plus-size jfashion blogger who have built their fairy-kei and sweet lolita wardrobe on a small budget.
The recognition of otaku culture and the Japanese media mix in the last twenty years paved the way for the emergence of fairy-kei in Western culture. Using Tumblr initially for Japanese otaku content, all three interviews shared two common gender non-conforming and non-binary fairy-kei influencers; Dreamy Tabby and Mahou Prince.
A huge inspiration in my exposure to fairy-kei was Youtuber Heather Sparkles, who thrifts, collects and restores toys from the late 80s and early 90s like Polly Pockets, My Little Pony and Care Bears. She wears lots of sparkly 80s pastel sweaters in her videos.
These pink vintage knits were from Heather’s Depop Shop. Depop is popular amongst the fairy-kei subculture trend, with a variety of plus size, vintage, and Japanese garments, as well as toys and VHSes.
I was able to observe the trend at Hollywood Mirror; has operated its Boystown retail space for over 20 years. With HQ in Tokyo, Hollywood Mirror carries many items tied to Japanese youth cultures. There was one full circle rack with the label “kawaii”, filled with cute pastel vintage garments; knits blouses trousers and fluffy tulle & crinoline skirts.
My second observation took place at Lush, a beauty brand that is growing beyond sustainability. Lush’s products are hand-made, fresh with cruelty-free vegetarian ingredients. They’re highly transparent about their supply chain and manufacturing, and periodically release limited time products to raise money for issues like deforestation and transgender rights. Lush will be releasing a new neon bath bomb in US stores this spring, named Harajuku, after the home of Japanese alternative street style. Lush’s rainbow range of bath products inspire childhood nostalgia and create opportunities for a fresher and lusher planet, indicating the level of caring that textile-based brands will need to implement in their brand message in order to fully win customer trust.
With the United Nations giving only 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe for our planet, the focus on sustainability in our fashion choices will only increase in the upcoming years. Fairy-kei already embraces this thrifty, second-hand shopping experience. Pastels will decline in popularity with the mass market consumers, and as they KonMari their closet, cute garments will find new homes in fairy-kei wardrobes as reworked pieces of nostalgic art. These designs are by Miss Alphabet, and use recycled materials with barbie and unicorn imagery for new bold, flattering handmade garments.
More brands will change production to a Made-To-Order basis as a strategy to allow designs to be offered in bigger size ranges without increasing textile waste and decreasing worker wages. Although this will dramatically raise the price per garment, the fairy-kei subculture understands that quality is something one must pay for, similar to lolita fashion. More designers will define themselves as slow-fashion brands, like Chrissa Sparkles, and allow the consumer to feel the good “win” of saving the planet, even if they’re purchasing a new kawaii product.
And that wraps up my Spring 2019 Trendspotting Micro-Trend project. I look forward to seeing what the next three years bring for the fairy-kei trend. What do you think? Do you agree with my predictions? Or do you think I’m way off? Since many of you follow the trend, I’m interested to see what your thoughts are. Please feel free to converse in the comments, and cite your sources as well!
Also; let’s talk about school! Are you part-time or full time? What do you study? Do you want me to share more about my academic experiences here on the blog? If so, what are you interested in hearing more about. I can share a lot about college thus far since I have five years of experiences to draw on.
Good luck with your midterms and upcoming creative projects, unicorns!
Lots of love, sparkles, and sprinkles,
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