Fairy-kei is a fashion style that’s been around for quite some time, and isn't a new trend by any means. It originated in the late 90’s, when fashionista and fashion entrepreneur, Sebastian Masuda, began retailing fairy oriented clothing in his Japan-based store. A simultaneously operating figure in the budding fashion trend, Sauri Tabuchi, was meanwhile running a second-hand clothing store, Spank!, that specialized in a similar type of clothing style. Together, these pioneers developed a trend that would grow exponentially over the next decade, culminating in the blossoming and unique, worldwide fashion phenomenon we see today.
Fairy-kei loosely translates to “fairy-style” and is similar to the many other Lolita-inspired, Japanese street fashion trends out there in that it utilizes many kiddish and childhood inspired looks. What makes this trend its own unique style, is its emphasis on bright, pastel and fluro color schemes, and a specific interest in revivalist 80’s cartoons and symbols.
From Care Bears, to My Little Pony, and even certain elements of Japanese manga, this trend draws from a variety of cultural pools of interest. It’s incredibly versatile, extremely flexible, and very flamboyant, but more importantly — it’s cuteness level is off the scale.
Pastel colored hair is a common feature to the fairy-kei fashionista, but it isn't a necessity. Leaving hair natural, but dressing it up with a variety of cute, yet simple accessories, is very popular in the scene. Brightly colored bows are commonplace throughout the Western, as well as Asian scenes, but not nearly as much as the 80’s cartoon references people flaunt in their outfits. Tutus, bunched socks, cute crop tops, hair ribbons, and even leg warmers, are all items you can expect to find in a fairy-kei store.
You can really wear anything, just as long as it’s colorful (the emo isle is further that way, the darkness is not something that’s worshiped here, folks, only happy places), but again, more importantly, it has to be cute!
If you’re unsure as to what constitutes a fairy-kei item, it’s really quite simple: whatever's bright, whatever's cute, and whatever suits you. The key to this trend, like most other Japanese street-wear trends, is the unstructured and individual-based theme. You do what suits you, what you think looks good on you, and you mustn’t be afraid to customize things the way you see fit. It’s a DIY subculture as much as it is a theme-based subculture, so don’t hesitate to make something your own!
Don’t worry if you’re still unsure as to what to wear, as below we’ve developed a list of 16 fashion tips on how to dress as fairy-kei. Hopefully some of the tips help you with your clothing choices, and maybe you’ll feel inspired to get in touch with your inner fairy!