Kawaii – loveable, cute or adorable.
– Prominent culture of Japanese behaviour, toys, food, clothes entertainment
– Kanji ‘ka’ = acceptable
– Kanji ‘ai’ = love
– From The Tale of Genji – referring to pitiable and docile qualities
Today Kawaii can be seen everywhere. You don’t have to go to Japan to witness Kawaii as some the best loved characters in the West are considered Kawaii. This includes Pikachu from Pokémon, Kirby, Hello Kitty, Miffy, Snoopy, Minnie Mouse and even the Teletubbies. Though some of these are not of Japanese descent, their overall cuteness has been celebrated as part of this phenomenon.
However it isn’t just batting your eyelids and talking cute, Kawaii is a heavily influenced DIY genre. This is all Japanese influenced, as they have a strong culture of recycling, so for the average student who has limited funds, Kawaii has embraced the idea of recycling your old clothes, jewellery, material and in some cases rugs to add to your fashion.
So how does one become Kawaii? There are so many different types of Kawaii, but here are a few overall pointers in Kawaii fashion to help you get started and create your own Kawaii style.
- Big eyes. Big eyes are reminiscent of Disney Princess’ and this is the same in Kawaii. Big eyes represent wonderment, innocence and beauty, so grab some mascara and fake eyelashes and get some big beautiful eyes going
- Long hair. Long hair is also associated with innocence and Kawaii. This is because most little girls have long hair, because long hair means you are a girl not a boy. The longer the hair, the more natural your look, as you have not been touched by the material human world. This is also reminiscent of Rapunzel, the Princess at the top of the tower who uses her lush long hair to let the prince climb up and save her.
- Pastels. Pastel colours, often light pink, blue, green, purple and yellow are used in Kawaii as they refer to baby pink and blue. Pastels are soft colours that often make one look slimmer and fairer, showing a sweet natural look again.
- Bows and ribbons. Bows are a must in cuteness, especially worn in the hair. But bows and ribbons bows are incorporated onto shoes, clothes, jewellery and bags.
- Hearts. Hearts obviously represent love, and thus are used on everything including nails; to give a very cute look.
- Overall fairy tale. It seems that fairy tales such as Alice in Wonderland and most Disney Princess movies are referenced in one way or another. This is because they represent innocence, kindness and above all being a princess, which is what Kawaii is all about.
Most elements of Kawaii are inherited from Manga and Anime cartoons, due to their upbeat sweet attitude and reference to big Western eyes. The Manga look is often considered and ideal in Japan and is perpetuated by many ‘idol’ singers and celebrities.
So there’s a little guide on how to be Kawaii. But here are a few locations in our lovely Newcastle Upon Tyne City Centre to get you going
Fenwick. 39 Northumberland Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, NE1 1AR
On the second floor, at the back, Fenwick has its own Haberdashery and Fabric section. There you can find a lovely arrangement of ribbons, sold by the meter and fabrics with different ranging prices to add or start to your clothes.
Eldon Square, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1AB
John Lewis on the second floor, at the back also has a Haberdashery section. They have ribbons, brought by the pack, a larger range of fabric and at the moment small tubs with assorted buttons in them!
Grainger Market. Grainger Market, Newcastleupon Tyne, NE1
The Grainger Market has a number of fabric stores which a cheaper than Fenwick and John Lewis as it is a market stall. You may have to snoop round a little more but they have some amazing bargains, and add to your cheap DIY Kawaii style.
Claire’s Accessories. Eldon Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7XJ
Claire’s have a number of cute cheap headbands with bows and animals on, perfect for a Kawaii look. They also have hair extensions in store, so you can accessories your hair to match your Kawaii outfit!
Toki Yoki. 1B Sidgate , Eldon Square , Newcastle upon Tyne , NE1 7XF
Toki Yokihas some very cute clips, scarves and headbands in Big baby style to Kawaii it up. It also has some signature big geeky glasses, giving you an extra edge in Kawaii innocence, with a smart style.