Introducing Mori Kei

Bold colours, chunky accessories, kawaii cuteness by the bucketload, Japanese street fashion is known for it’s colourful, busy, eclectic, anything-goes space-age youthful vibe. It’s often bright, new and modern, often borrows from traditional Japanese garb but also incorporates a cartoon-like version of 1980’s New York hiphop streetwear in bright sherbet and citrus colour palettes.

So what a surprise when a style called mori kei burst on the scene – it seemed like a direct antithesis to all that plastic and neon and evolved more out of the cute girly Lolita style. Flowy, billowy layers of lace and natural fabrics created a soft and feminine look that was graceful, natural, hippie-like and anchored in a nostalgic and wistful pastoralism, using smock-like dresses and loosely layered skirts, ponchos or cardigans. Earthy and pastel-coloured natural fabrics such as textured lace, linen and crochet, often thrifted, were complimented by vintage jewellery. The style was so popular that it has since gone international and is still growing in popularity.

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: Mori Kei gets natural.
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: Mori Kei gets natural.

However, beneath the whimsy, there’s an odd strictness to this subculture – it’s probably the only one we’ve heard of that actually has written rules! Just over a decade ago, a girl named Choco, writing on Japan’s facebook equivalent Mixi, created 62 ‘official’ rules to qualify for being an archetypal mori girl. That seems somewhat excessive and specific, I hear you say. Especially as fashion is meant to be a fluid language and also very personal.

But mori kei endures. And, taken from its unlikely urban roots in the Tokyo megatropolis (mori means forest and kei menas fashion in Japanese), it has become not only about fashion but also lifestyle and there are now mori ‘communities’ in places as diverse as Minnesota USA and is especially popular in Scandinavia.

These days, the doctrinaire rigidity of mori kei has been loosened by people of all sexes that are mixing it with all kinds of other styles such as gothic, cosplay, fae style and hippy and that, in turn, has influenced new fashions such as strega “witch” fashion, dark mori and pastel goth.

Being attracted to this trend is about lessons we need to learn – about feeling free to look into a country’s past, collect old things, feel a simplicity, an innocence and connection to the land and to cherish your grandmother’s accessories.

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Check out Altshop’s Pinterest collection of beautiful mori kei outfits


Anthony’s Scrumptious Valentine Cupcakes

IF you’ve ever been to a fairy festival in the UK, you may have been lucky enough to meet Anthony Spears and see his amazing fairy artwork – but Anthony’s talents don’t end there…

If you’re even luckier, you may have had the chance to sample one of his melt-in-the-mouth kitchen creations – because this wonderful pixie creature surely holds the title of best cupcake-baker in all faerieland!

Altshop Blog readers, count yourselves very fortunate, because Anthony is feeling pretty loved-up this Valentine’s Day, so he’s sharing his Red Velvet cupcake recipe with us. Mixers at the ready, take it away, Anthony!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 60g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder (depending how dark you want the cakes to be add more or less)
  • ½ tsp red food colouring powder (much better than liquid colouring)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 150g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp white vinegar
  • 300g icing sugar, sifted
  • 20g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 125g cream cheese, cold
  • 1 x 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed.

Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a very thick, dark paste.

Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).

Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk.

Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour and beat until everything is well incorporated.

Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again.
Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar.
Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.

Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar.
Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.

Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating the icing sugar the remaining 20g of the unsalted butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

Add the cream cheese in one go and beat it until it is completely incorporated.
Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed.

Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least five minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.

Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top.

To make a red velvet cake instead, double the quantities below, divide between three 20-cm cake tins and bake for 25 minutes at the same oven temperature.

Wow, Anthony! I would never have guessed that vinegar would be an ingredient! What a great surprise. So, bakers, get your baking heads on and get making! We’d love to hear how you get on. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe, Anthony. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Anthony's Art
FULL OF CHARACTER: An example of Anthony’s Artwork

If you would like to find out more about Anthony’s Fairy Art or commission a fantastic fantasy art portrait, CLICK HERE. Or you can see his Facebook page HERE.

FANTASY YOU: Anthony will paint you as your favourite elemental
LOVE AT LAST: Anthony gives partner Craig a Valentine’s hug