The Power of Kawaii

Picture: Hello Kitty, Rainbows, Pink and bright colours, all of these thing are what the Japanese call “Kawaii”. “Kawaii” is the Japanese word for cute. When it comes to this trend, its followers like to dress in child-like clothing to capture a level of innocence and youth.
The mass following of Kawaii started in the 1970’s when the Japanese public wanted to rebel against the conventional fashion that had been in their country for centuries and the expectations it came with.
ff9f1d4a31ddcd44298ea67741b4d786.jpg Kawaii can be seen as a type of escape for the Japanese public, especially during their time of economic crisis throughout the mid-to-late 1900’s. Companies used Kawaii as a marketing strategy for their products, placing cute images and cartoons onto their marketing campaigns to appeal to an international market and not allow the international public to see their time of hardship.

Japanese women began using Kawaii as a way to hide their sexuality, by adjusting their image and personalities to be more child-like. Having the luxury to hold onto childhood demonstrates the fight against accepting adult responsibilities and opens up a world that embraces creativity and individuality that is seldom found in a grown up modern world.

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There is no one fashion subculture that falls under the Kawaii trend, but Dekora definitely expresses an immense level of “Kawaii” inspired objects and accessories. This fashion subculture characterised by its bright colours and over-the-top items has taken the streets of Tokyo by a storm, districts like Harajuku (mentioned in my last post!) have Dekora inspired outfits everywhere.
The cute culture appeals predominantly to a younger audience of teens – young adults. It is usually embraced by youths trying to hold onto their final years of being children or by adults fighting to not accept that they must take on further responsibilities.
Other fashion subtypes that are influenced by Kawaii are: Fairy Kei, Sweet Lolita, Cosplayers and many more. It is a lifestyle that is open to anyone and is not limited to anything other than what people subjectively find cute.

Thank you for reading another blog by me, please remember to ask me any questions that you may have, I always try my best to answer them all to the best of my ability. Next post we will be discussing the Lolita trend (specifically Gothic Lolita’s). I hope you look forward to that post, and continue to learn about Japanese fashion with me 🙂

5 Replies to “The Power of Kawaii”

    1. Fairy Kei is an 80’s inspired subculture of fashion. If a person dresses under the Fairy Kei style, you would see similar fashion to that in the 80’s, mixed with Kawaii elements such as badges, ribbons etc. Thanks for your question 🙂 I hope this helps.

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  1. Hi Noah! I found what you said about this childlike style being a rejection of adult pressures to be incredibly interesting! I’d like to hear what factors you think influence this want to avoid adulthood in Japanese culture. I think it’s awesome how your blog doesn’t just explain this stuff but also analyse why and how such things have come about! Keep up the good work and hope Asian studies is going well ☺️

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    1. Thanks Ellen!
      In relation to your question about the contributing factors to this want for an escape, I would have to say that Japan’s international influence in wars and its economic hardships would have to play a major role in this need for a creative escape. Also its traditional culture of gender roles and traditional outfits would play a part in this new modern outlook on individuality in fashion.
      Thanks for your question! I hope my answer helped 🙂

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