Kawaii Market brings cute to New Orleans

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Kawaii Market brings cute to New Orleans

Payton Whittaker

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Kawaii, the Japanese culture of cute, is coming to New Orleans.

Specialty boutique Kawaii NOLA is hosting its first Kawaii Market, a Japanese fashion marketplace.

“Kawaii” is the Japanese word for “cute and lovable,” and can refer to accessories, clothing and toys. The boutique Kawaii NOLA is owned by Adam and Kanako Richard, who opened the store on Magazine Street in January.

“Being Japanese, I grew up around a culture of cute,” Kanako Richard said. “When my parents moved back to Japan about five years ago, it inspired me to open my own store.”

Kawaii NOLA sells apparel, including costumes, wigs, jewelry, makeup, stationary and children’s items.

“New Orleans is such a colorful city,” Richard said. “I knew that Harajuku style (a Japanese fashion style) would be a good fit.”

On Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 4 and 5), the marketplace will sell handmade goods, accessories and clothing made by local artists in an outdoor setting. Japanese clothing and accessory vendors Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and Alice and the Pirates will be at the event.

“The market is an opportunity to enjoy the fall weather, feature local artists and meet others that share in an appreciation for the Kawaii culture,” Richard said.

One of the styles that Kawaii NOLA sells is the Lolita style. Lolita style dresses are normally mid-thigh length and are fitted around the torso but puff out at the hips giving a young, childlike appearance. They are most commonly found in lighter colors like pink, blue or purple.

“There’s different styles of skirts and what you could pair up,” Alison Ritchie, biochemistry senior, said. “It’s usually just wearing a bunch of frilly dresses. It’s really interesting to see what different styles there are like classic, country and sweet.”

Ritchie said many dresses are topped off with a large bow or a bonnet to add some character.

Kati Hash, history senior, says that Kawaii culture is an important form of style because it allows people to be creative in their Japanese, pop culture style.

“It helps with creativity, expressional and sometimes aesthetically pleasing designs,” Hash said. “It’s also really cool to see how people create the outfits, the makeup and the hairstyles of the wigs.”

Richard said she enjoys fostering a space for fans of the Japanese style.

“It is an opportunity to bring this fashion and celebrate it in the local Kawaii community,” she said.

Kawaii NOLA is hosting a Lolita-dress tea party called the “Phantom Masquerade” on Sunday (Nov. 5) from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. The 18+ event is now allowing all forms of J-fashion, or Japanese street fashion.

“Kawaii culture is all about expressing your own style and about what makes you feel good and happy,” Richard said.

Kawaii Market will be held on Nov. 4-5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kawaii NOLA’s store at 4826 Magazine St.

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