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まさか自分がこのトピックを取り上げるなんて思いもしなかったけど、この間ちょっとしたカルチャーショックを受けたので。東京に住むようになって、いろいろなユニークなファッションに出逢った。ヤマンバ、サイバーゴス、白塗り、着ぐるみん等等。でも驚くほど珍しいとは思わなかった。だって、ミーシャが日本のカルチャーを尊敬しやってきたのはこういうものに触れたかったから。

でも最近、あるファッションスタイルを学んだ。自分にとっては本当にびっくりするような、理解するのが難しいタイプのもの。それはずばり、”モテ系”。

モテ系ファッションについて学ぶことで、カルチャーの難しさを改めて思い知らされた。日本とアメリカのファッションは共通点がたくさんある。だけど、男性にアピールすることが目的のモテ系ファッションを通して、両者にはまだまだ多くの違いがあることも分かった。もともと、モテ系的なファッションに注目したことはなかったけれど、偶然そういう機会をいただいた。きっと、何が起きたか知ったらみなさん驚くことでしょう…

 

There comes a tipping point, the “hump” as we’d say, when nothing in an adopted culture can really be all that surprising anymore. This is especially true in my experience working in fashion in Japan. I’ve seen my share of fashion with flair while living in Tokyo- the yamambas, cyber goth, shironuri and kigurumin, but they wouldn’t make me surprised. In fact, those are something I *expect* to see as someone interested in the subcultures.

But recently I was learning about a type of fashion that that honestly took me by surprise. I had never really cared to pay much attention to it, but when I did I was taken aback in a slow-simmer way. Kind of like hearing a country cover of a hip hop song that takes a few minutes to process. So what was this fashion that confuggled me? It’s *drum roll*

… “Mote-kei.”

Mote-kei (mo-tay-kay) is translated as Pretty-style but it literally means “attractive-style”. It is a way of dressing pretty, with a defined goal of catching or keeping a (Japanese) man/woman. Learning about mote-kei and just how penetrative its ideas for catching the opposite sex through clothing are really awakened in me a renewed urge to get to the bottom of something. Usually fashion is just fashion. But sometimes there is something more there. Luckily, I had the perfect opportunity to go head-to-head with it.  And you may find it curious as to what happened…

 

上載画像: above photo Source: ar Online. It reads, “7 rules to getting lovable hair. Rule 1: bangs. Rule 2: Curls…”
mote-kei-ar-2014-11“Mote-kei” magazine “ar”. A choice headline: “How to get a yummy face!”  Source: Amazon

 

幸運なことに、日本から英語で様々なコンテンツを発信するNHKワールドと仕事をさせてもらっている。『NHKかわいいインターナショナル』という、東京カワイイTVの海外向け的な番組に出させていただいてる。(人気があるようで、海外に行った時にそれに気付かされることがある 笑 )そこでは、色々なジャパニーズファッションを取り上げていて、特に原宿、渋谷、秋葉原のサブカル的な角度から掘り下げたりする。日本のサブカルファッションを知るための入り口でもあるので、メッセージが伝わるのはとても大事だと思う。そんな中最近フォーカスしたのはモテ系(ちなみに、その英訳がPretty-styleである)。

日本の女性のファッションには赤文字系と青文字系があることも、その違いも分かってる。でもミーシャが赤文字系雑誌を読んでからもう何年も経ってる(そういや、読んではないかも。思い出せない。でもエビちゃんブームとか覚えてるし、昔住んでたから神戸のオネエ系とかは馴染みがある。)だから、番組を作る上でモテ系についての説明を聞いた時、あまりにも文字通りで驚いた。本当に男性を落とすためだけのためのファッションなの?嘘だー!私にとってファッションとは常に、パーソナルなもので、自分自身のためにドレスアップするって考えてた。なんだかこのモテ系の方って”タブー”感満載!?

 

I am very lucky to be working with NHK World, which broadcasts many programs from Japan in English. I work on a TV show called “Kawaii International” which is kind of like “Tokyo Kawaii TV” but instead it’s broadcast in English with different content and an international audience in mind (it is on NHK World Channel the last Sunday of every month, check it out S.V.P.). It seems to be popular and a gateway to Japanese fashion for the casually curious, so I take the message we present very seriously. In the show we cover many Japanese fashion topics, with many of them focusing on Harajuku, Shibuya or Akihabara. But for our most recent episode we were focusing on Mote-kei (Pretty-style).

In Japan, it is well known that the magazines are very segmented into defined genres. But when it comes to young fashion, there are two major groups: Aka-moji (Red-letter) and Ao-moji (Blue-letter) magazines. The latter refers to Harajuku styles, where people dress for themselves and their personalities. While the former Red-letter magazines refer to dressing for *someone else*. That is the main difference between them, and it makes them like oil and water.  It’s been a really long time since I read a Red-letter magazine (ok, maybe I had never really *read* one. But I know them all, such as Ray, Cancam, Jay Jay, ar, etc. and I remember the Ebi-chan boom and used to live in Kobe with the Onee-kei girls. So.) When I was asked to learn about Pretty-style for our episode, I couldn’t believe that the style lived up to its name: it was really all about being “attractive” to men.  It flew in the face of my personal (and perhaps clouded) stance, that “fashion” was always something very personal and for ourselves only. This “Pretty-style” actually seemed very… taboo.

 

mote-kei-5

Ray Magazine. Source: Amazon. A choice headline: “How to get a marshmallow body”

 

セクシーよりスイートがあえてタブー?

 

どうして、そんなにタブーに感じるのかというと、たぶんアメリカでは”男性のために着飾る”ということの意味(一般的に)が日本とはだいぶ違うかもしれないから。おそらくアメリカで男性のためのドレスアップといったらもっと派手なメイクにセクシーでセクシーでセクシーな服。足や胸あたりの露出度が高かったり、これでもかってくらいタイトなもの。でも赤文字系ファッションを見ると、絶妙な肌見せ具合で、すこしスパイスの効いた甘さとイノセントなイメージを受ける。今や少しレトロだとも捉えられるスタイル。なんだか昔の「マッドメン」時代っぽく感じた。最初にタブーだと感じたのはこのせいかもしれない。とにかく、もう少しモテ系について知る必要があった。いったいモテ系ファッションってなんだ?

 

“Sweet” over “sexy” seems almost taboo?!

In the west, “dressing for men” obviously means something VERY different. The makeup can be high-maintenance “natural” or very “glammed-up”, but the clothing is always, always SEXY. Lots of skin, legs, cleavage or tight, tight, tight. That is what “dressing for men” means 90% of the time. So while looking at the styles in the Red-letter Japanese magazines, I noticed they were showing skin, but it was very calculated ..and there was not a lot of it. They were demure, sweet, and innocent, with just a bit of spice. Not standing out too much, looking very approachable, and most certainly following “mass market” trends were the main schtick.  It almost seemed retro. I couldn’t get the term “Mad Men-era” out of my noggin when reading it. But I needed to learn more. Is this REALLY what Pretty-style was all about?

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モテ系ならではのヘア。モテヘアが一番大事のよう。Some hairstyles for mote-kei. Just like hairstyle differentiates between other subcultures, mote-kei has their own as well. Source: ar Online.

 

ロマンスとファンタジー

 

番組のため、赤文字系雑誌、arの編集部にお邪魔させてもらった。おかげでモテ系ファッションについて、前より理解を深められました。ありがとうございます。赤文字系女子たちは、子猫のようなかわいらしさを求めながらも、小悪魔的要素を忘れない、そんなスタイルなのかなと思う。そう、モテ系だって日本のひとつのサブカルチャーなのかも。(サブカルとは言っても、青文字系では敵わないほど広く受け入れられている”マス”カルチャーだけど。)

モテ系のキーワードは、ロマンティックファンタジー。雑誌を読むと、どうやらモテ系はロマンティックなファンタジーを夢見る女の子たちだという。フリルやふわふわした、ゆったりめな服を着る。そして、ふわふわの柔らかい服は男性が触りたくなるからモテるらしい。個人的には着ていて気持ちいいからなのではないかと思うけど。テイラースウィフトがアイコン的存在?!とも思ったりした。

ファンタジーな〜という部分は理解できる。でもこのスタイルが男性だけのためだとは到底思えない。テイラースウィフトだって男受けあまできないとよく言う西洋人たち。…と、ほんとに日本の男性はこのあま〜いファッションが好みなの?男友達を呼び出して今すぐ聞きたいくらい。でもそこで、セクシーウーマンスタイルの方が…という先入観にとらわれていることに気付いた。ジャパン Vs. 海外というバトルではない。別にどちらが正しいとかは今気にすることではないのだ。そしてもっともっとモテ系ファッション誌を読みあさった。すると…なんだか!自分にとってまさかキュートに見えてきた。

 

It’s all fantasy?

 

Because I was on the show, we got to visit the editorial department of ”ar” Magazine, a hugely popular Red-letter magazine. It was thanks to this visit that I started to understand Pretty style a little bit better. For one thing, these girls may be dressing like kittens, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have claws. Pretty style is just like any other subculture where girls follow a set of trends and guidelines within that fashion genre and this one happens to be uber, uber feminine so it elicits a cringe as a natural reaction (I say subculture but I think Pretty style is far more “mass” than any other Japanese fashion style. Red letter magazines move TONS of units)

The most important keywords of Pretty style to note is: romantic fantasy. I learned at the magazine that much of Pretty style is about the girls writing romantic fantasies in their minds. The uniform for this happens to be flirty, fuzzy and comfortable. Although everyone says that the fuzzy, soft clothing is so that guys will want to put their hand on you, I personally think it’s really just because it’s comfortable to wear…for the *girls* themselves. It is ironic, since the whole idea is to dress for someone else. But if you asked the girls, they will probably just shrug and say they choose this genre because it’s quite comfortable to wear. If Pretty-kei was a person, then Taylor Swift would be queen and the *ultimate* guy-magnet.

I could understand the fantasy part, but I couldn’t believe that this was all really for the men. Do men really prefer this sweetiepie sort of fashion?? I wanted to call up my Japanese boy friends and ask. But then I realized that thought alone meant I was trying to discredit the culture here by believing that the sexxed-up version of a woman was somehow “correct” and a far more girlie “Pretty-style” couldn’t be. In fact, the a more demure girl being seen as sexy without actually having to dress like a Friday Night ™ started to sound pretty nice. I looked at more and more Pretty-style magazines and then something happened: ….. I started thinking it could be a good idea.

 

 

motekei-cancam_1405_to

最近のモテ系ファッションの例。Cancam and some “sweet” Mote-kei fashion. Source: Visionize

 

モテ系に挑戦!?

 

季節の変わり目だからか、おかしな思考回路になったミーシャはモテ系にチャレンジしてみようか?なんて考えては、そんな自分に笑ったりした。雑誌に掲載されている服を見ていたら、全てのページに柔そうなセーターがあることに気付いた。どれも暖かくて気持ち良さそう。それで、自分のクローゼットを見てみた…セーターゼロ!ふわふわなニットアイテムなんてひとつもなかったの!オーケイ、とりあえずやわらかセーターはマストハブだからゲットすべきだよね?

ということでそれを探しにラフォーレへ(青文字ヘブンはわかっているけど笑)。でもここである問題が浮上。ユニークなものが好きなミーシャにとって、無難なシンプルアイテムを買うことはもったいない気がしちゃって、かなり悩むとこだった。ショップをひとつづつチェックして、気に入るセーター一着ようやく見つけた。シンプルなクリーム色それには”Laugh and grow fat”(笑って、幸せにデブっちゃおう)って。これ最高!完全に浮かれ気分。

…ちょっと待った。これ絶対モテ系じゃないじゃん。失敗!

…と、最終的にたどり着いたのはラフォーレでいちばん赤文字系的なブランド、スナイデル。そう、スナイデルがあったじゃん!ミーシャはなるべく目立たないように頑張ったけど、外人ってそれだけで目立つし、文化の後輩がスタッフにいたから、無理な話で…案の定バレた!「ミーシャさんが来てくれてびっくり」という発言もw。確かに!とりあえず、セーターとスカートの激ファジーなアンサンブルを試着。かなり、かーなりふわふわ。カーペットみたいな。これ、ありなのかな…

 

Pretty-kei, pretty tough to pull off

 

Perhaps because the season is changing and it makes us all a bit weird, but I had a thought: Should I take on a challenge?! Try Pretty style?! I was laughing at myself for thinking it. But looking through the clothes in the magazines, I realized that every page had something soft on it. It looked so comfortable and warm. I looked in my closet and: no sweaters! Not one knit item. I always thought of knit as fuzzy, like mold is fuzzy. Ick, not for me. But this time… maybe. Alright, I got this. At least I could get a fuzzy sweater, right?

So I set off to Laforet to find the fuzziest sweater I could. I needed it to be so fuzzy it was begging for a lawnmower trim.

But that brought me to another problem; I *like* unique clothes. Would I feel it to be a waste to buy something that wasn’t funny or unique? This was a serious conundrum requiring serious debate in my head. I looked through every store, and finally found a sweater I liked. It was a simple non-threatening cream color that had a message printed on it. “Laugh and grow fat”. I loved it! It was hilarious, and I giggled every time I thought of it.

….. but wait, this is definitely NOT Pretty style, even if it IS a sweater. Way too edgy.  Back to square one.

So finally I bit the bullet and went for the fuzziest thing I could find in the most Red-letter brand in Laforet; Snidel. Snidel! I know, surprising right! I was trying to be inconspicuous and practically tiptoed in but that’s hard when I`m a foreigner who stands out, and the sales assistant recognized me from Bunka. My cover was blown! In any case, I tried on a sweater and skirt ensemble that was SO fuzzy, it was like a carpet. I couldn’t tell if this made me “mote” or not. I was feeling uneasy about this experiment…

motekei-snidel-2014ふわふわ、レディー、フェミニン、ビジュー、無難がモテ系の特徴。モテ系に人気なSnidel 2014 AWコレクションより。Source: Usagi-online. Mote-kei favorite brand Snidel AW 2014 collection.

その場で買うつもりは無かったから、1度そこを去って考えてから戻ってくることに。本当にふわふわでレトロかわいいそのアンサンブルに惹かれて、最終的に購入することに。(まさかの!)この前自宅で男女集まってホームパーティをしたんだけど、おニューのそのセーターセットアップを着るのがとても楽しみだったから早速お披露目しちゃった。

すると…!みんなのリアクションったらひどいんだよー…

というか、みんなとょっと怒ってた!!かわいくないからとかじゃなくて、ふわふわの毛が抜けてそこら中を舞ってたから。食べ物にまで!モテるどころか迷惑になってた。するとひとりの男性がひとこと、”なんか今日は原宿っぽいね”。 なに?!しくじったー。モテ系ならぬモテない系になっちゃったよ(笑。結局ミーシャらしくいるのがいちばんだ。(でもレトロなムードは最近ハマってるんだけどね!モテてなくてもいいわ…)

最後になるけど、ミーシャはカルチャーの違いについてたくさん学んできた。今回、セクシーさが”モテる”にはそんなに大切じゃないことが分かってよかった。アメリカでは、男性と仲良くなるためだけにセクシーに着飾る事に対して、多くの中傷や否定の意見がある。でも日本では違う視点もあるし、男性に対してのアピール方法も異なる。もちろん、セクシーが嫌いな日本男性は少なくないと思うよw。お付き合いとデーティング文化がもっと違うけど。(これについてはまた別の話) “あなた”にとってのモテ系とはなんですか?とっても興味がある!

image希望に応じてモテ系に挑戦したミーシャの写真を追加。個性が抜けないモテ系ww. どう? Me in Snidel. Socks: Erimaki Sox. Shoes: United Nude. Sunglasses DIOR via iamitalian.com

I even left and had to come back later because I couldn’t decide whether to buy it right away. But it was REALLY soft and it was cute in a retro sort of way. So I bought it (!!). I was so excited to wear it, I didn’t wait long. Recently I had a little get-together at my house, with a mix of girls and boys so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to wear the super fuzzy thing. I had this down, I was feeling pretty and on top of it ALL.

..but life never turns out the way we expect, does it? Turns out I was going to be the least “pretty” of em all. Those fuzzy hairs? They were flying everywhere! It was in the air, on their clothes, and in the food! I was swallowing them. They were like magnets to everything but the vessel they were *supposed* to stay on. I was being more of a nuisance than a prodigy. And then one of my male guests said to me, “You look very Harajuku today.” Huh?!! The point was to not look Harajuku. I failed big time. I am going to stick to my styles I know best. But I am sure feelin’ this retro style kick, pretty style or not.

So in the end, I learned a lot about the differences in being a “man’s girl” in terms of style. I was happy to see that sexy doesn’t necessarily mean Pretty kei. There is a lot of pressure for girls in the west to be sexy as if that is the only way to attract men. But here in Japan there is a whole ‘nother layer and way of doing things. This doesn’t mean I don’t think a lot of it isn’t silly, because it is. But if we want to talk silliness, one only needs to look at our Cosmopolitan (smh). Dating culture is also obviously way different (another topic for another day). So I`m curious, what do YOU think about mote-kei/Pretty style? Would you want to adopt some of its ideas or does it make you cringe?

Words: Misha Janette
Edits: Natsumi Yasuoka

READ MORE! 関連記事も読みましょう!

 

The Shocker is Beauty is not Borderless ◎日本の境界線を超えられない美意識はあるの?

beauty-sayoko-yamaguchi-2

 

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