Mori Kei is a Japanese fashion style that has been gaining popularity in recent years. Originating from the Harajuku district of Tokyo, Mori Kei takes inspiration from different subcultures such as Lolita.
The fashion style has spreader around the world and although it had its spike in 2009, many people still love wearing Mori Kei clothing for its unique and comfortable properties.
This blog post will cover everything you need to know about Mori Kei from what it looks like, how you can incorporate it into your wardrobe, where to buy Mori Kei clothing and what similarities this trend has with cottagecore.
What Is Mori Kei?
Mori Kei is a Japanese fashion style that emerged in the early 2000s and got its name in 2006. In Japanese, Mori Kei is written 森ガール.
The 森 kanji translates to “forest” while ガール means “girl” which leads us to its original name Mori girl.
This “forest style” fashion mainly consists of layering comfortable fabrics in earthy tones that radiate peace and look like you have been living in the forest your whole life.
They also have some elements of bohemian, cozy chic and whimsical fashion. Mori Kei has been described by many sources as being feminine and cute with an emphasis on vintage styles.
Long before its naming, Japanese girls have been wearing this street fashion but it gained its popularity only in 2006 when a user on Mixi (Japanese social media platform) under the nom de plume Choco created a Mori girl community.
She also put together guidelines consisting of 60 rules that make someone a Mori girl. You obviously don’t have to adhere to all of them, they are simply a checklist that can be used as a reference.
More than 30.000 people were part of it in 2009 and Mori Kei magazines, as well as brands, greatly adopted the new street fashion.
However, the hype slowly declined since 2010 and in 2019 the Mixi group had been deleted and one of Mori’s most popular brands “Wonder Rocket” also closed down in 2017.
But don’t be discouraged, still today there are various brands and designers that offer Mori Kei clothing. More on that below.
Mori fashion can be described as a loose layering of natural, girly clothes. The fabrics are so loose that they hide the shape of the body completely which gives them their super cozy appearance.
The clothes should be rather functional than trendy with the highest level of comfiness as their priority.
With those woodsy colors and natural fabrics, the fashion style best fits the autumn and winter season when you can cuddle up perfectly in all your layers.
They key here is to keep it simple. Again the clothes should be practical and overcomplicating things doesn’t help.
I will try incorporating as many Mori rules that I can to illustrate how you can adopt this fashion style.
One of those rules involves natural fabrics such as cotton or wool that can be crocheted or knitted.
You can focus more on deep colors like khaki, burgundy, dark brown, and navy blue. But also colors like beige, white-cream, mauve, light pink and mustard fit the aesthetic really well.
A-line dresses and skirts are usually the clothing pieces you start from. From there you can asymmetrically layer oversized cardigans, ponchos, blouses, and sweaters or even more skirts in different lengths.
Legs usually aren’t kept bare and are rather covered with thick tights or leggings for extra warmth. The tights can be further layered with wool socks and laced boots.
Fluffy hats made of knitwear or fur can be used as cozy headwear and ear muffs are also an alternative.
Knit scarfs and shawls can be rolled up super high or draped down and don’t forget to wear some gloves in the cold months.
Regarding accessories, Mori girls prefer gold over silver as well as leather bags, baskets, and pochettes. Vintage items such as pocket watches, magnifying glasses, and necklaces add to the whimsical vibe.
They don’t wear something flashy but you may add a little quirk to your overall outfit. For inspiration, you can look for forest inspired jewellery such as mushroom earrings or leave engraved rings.
Most popular patterns feature flowers, animals and candy but they also include polka dots and lace.
As I mentioned before, lace boots look amazing with the layered clothing but you can also wear low heeled shoes, toe shoes, or sneakers.
Traditional Mori hairstyles are quite simple without any colouring or wild haircuts. Keep in mind that you should wear whatever you like best and the fashion style can definitely look amazing with creative hairstyles.
To match the simple hair, use minimal make up that is mostly reduced to some blush, natural lip color and subtle eye make up.
Most Mori girls skip the make up completely and like to enhance their beauty with the right skin care.
Where Can I Buy Mori Clothing?
The first place I would choose to look for Mori clothing are thrift stores. They are filled to the rim with vintage clothing and old materials that can easily be modified to fit your personal style.
Etsy is also an amazing place to find handmade one of a kind items that can even be personalised. You will also be able to support small businesses instead of those big clothing shops.
There are also online stores like Yesstyle, Cocoro, Favorite One, Coton Coton and Forest Girl Clothing. Most of them are Japanese so the easiest would probably be to stick to Etsy.
Mori Kei Lifestyle
Although Mori Kei is mainly a fashion style, there are some lifestyle elements that the traditional Mori girl embodies.
To describe the Mori girl best, I have found an amazing paragraph that I will cite for you below:
“In her own quiet way, the mori girl is an individualist. She does not care that the world may live differently from her. She lives consciously and chooses her own lifestyle.
The mori girl often looks whimsical or quirky. When she shops, she buys something based on how it makes her feel, rather than on how fashionable or expensive it will appear to others. While she may enjoy the company of others, the mori girl loves her own company and indeed has embarked on many of her most memorable adventures alone.”Mori Girl Blog
Mori Girls are forest dwellers that like to walk around with a camera in their hand. They enjoy crafting things by hand and collecting vintage items.
You may characterize them as super uncomplicated and laid-back people. Mori girls love music so they are usually seen with headphones on listening to their favorite songs- sometimes dancing along while other times singing out loud.
Mori Girls love to shop for new clothes, accessories, and makeup but live a simple life on the whole.
The Mori Girl’s definition of a good time is doing something she loves – whether it be reading, writing, crafting or painting. She dresses to express herself and will wear just about anything as long as she feels happy wearing it.
She may spend hours sitting around reading books like Harry Potter or watching Studio Ghibli movies.
Mori Kei vs. Cottagecore
Both cottagecore and Mori Kei both have a strong focus on nature, so their overall aesthetics and motifs are pretty similar.
Cottagecore’s aesthetic can be described as having “a natural, country vibe” while Mori Kei is more about the beauty of simplicity in design with an emphasis on artfulness.
They both value organic materials such as cotton or linen as well as natural colors, floral patterns, embroidered details and lace.
Cottagecore is more about a feeling or mood while Mori kei focuses on design. Cottagecore often uses brighter, bolder colors that are typically bright reds, yellows, oranges as well as pastel.
Mori Kei tends towards earthy colors such as browns, dark reds, or greens. It has traditionally been seen on men (Mori boy) and women whereas Cottagecore is typically for girls only.
If they were seasons, cottagecore would be the summer and Mori Kei the fall.
Another difference is that cottagecore focuses more on agricultural and farm life, unlike Mori Kei.
Let me know what you think of this fashion style and if you would consider wearing it!