Trends and themes in fashion are cyclical, you live long enough or work long enough in an industry you see certain elements recycle repeatedly. I noticed this month “Cottagecore” seems to be gaining a lot of press as a new trend. On the surface it looks pretty similar to a Japanese subculture style called Mori Girl that’s over a decade old, so I thought it would be fun to explore a Mori themed shoot I did in 2013 and examine the two styles/trends.
Both subcultures are a rejection of modern high-tech lifestyles and the resulting distance from nature. A nostalgia for a romanticized simpler time (
whereas in the historical eras these styles evoke people died of all sorts of things we can cure now and sexism was a real bastard…yknow). Embracing a charming, naturally inclined existence in a world where you are bombarded by information from all angles, impending catastrophic climate change hangs above our heads like a guillotine, and every single thing is commercialized definitely has some appeal.
Cottagecore is also known as “farmcore” or “countrycore”, it’s a woodsy homespun sort of aesthetic. Think a sweet rural maiden living at peace with nature, gently and carefully. Nostalgic elements evoking old-timey farm lifestyles abound. The style often features loose fitting and layered clothing (primarily dresses/skirts), floral patterns and soft cotton fabrics, straw hats and embroidery. Lifestyle aspects include gardening, flower pressing/gathering, and other activities similar to those of Anne of Green Gables- except that you share them on tiktok/tumblr….
Mori Girl originated as a subculture in Japan about ten plus years ago and entire clothing brands and magazines sprung up catering to the style! Mori means woods or forest in Japanese. Like many Japanese street fashion styles it is incredibly intricate and detailed, blending eras and elements to evoke something entirely it’s own. Mori Girls are the og “cottagecore” girls, but with a more fanciful storybook feeling aesthetic overall. Just like cottagecore it involves lots of layering of loose fitting garments, simple fabrics, and a warm homespun feel overall. The lifestyle focus seems to be less on sharing your activities online and more on pausing to focus on the small, natural aspects of every day life. A softer, gentler lifestyle- even if you’re living it in a giant metropolis.
Both styles share an interest in sustainability, kindness, animal husbandry, and nature overall. My descriptions here are meant to be very brief introductions to both styles, you can find tons of in depth explorations of Mori Girl all over (and surely Cottagecore too soon).
In this 2013 photoshoot with photographer Electric Heart I styled an intricate Mori Girl inspired look with our (discontinued) Shallot Nightdress, my great grandmother’s slip, and some vintage/soft elements in shades of white and ivory.
In our busy, hectic and often cruel world I think it’s beautiful there is a return to nature and simplicity- even if just in the realm of subculture fashion.