My New Obsession: Tokidoki and Kawaii

09.08.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis / @Zara.Tokiniha

Thanks to Suzanne of the Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds & Dreams… blog I was able to finally articulate my latest obsession: all things known as kawaii—an adjective in Japanese, which means pretty, cute, lovely, charming, dear, darling, or pet and stems from the two kanji words “can love;” it’s the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture, and is commonly used to describe “cute” and “adorable” pieces of Japanese popular culture, clothing, food, toys, behaviour, and even personal appearance.

I have always been attracted to all things kawaii though I was never aware there was an actual term to describe the quality of the things I loved. My best assumption was that the origin of what I really liked simply stemmed from a general, Asian influence. When I discovered the term, kawaii, a whole world of Japanese/Asian “cuteness” literally exploded before me and I soon realized that I wasn’t alone in my own desire to collect and share my love of kawaii goodies. I soon discovered (and gladly so) that there is a large, devoted kawaii collective that is just as passionate as I am about this deeply embedded Asian context and style.

I kid you not, though most would presume that lovers of kawaii are all under the age of 12. And believe me when I tell you, I’m a lot older than that—and a lot older than I actually look. So, no. We may be obsessed with the cuteness of doll-like figures, the bursting fluff of anime characters-turned-plush-toy, or the rage that is Sanrio, but we’re pretty mature in the serious dedication we have to our own personal collections. At least I do.  And I also fulfill one of the kawaii lovers’ given stereotypes especially since the products and the social culture of kawaii is so successfully marketed towards Asians. Yes, I’m Asian (surprise)!

Still that doesn’t deter me from proudly joining what I call, The Kawaii Collective, and its craze, nor does it stop me from nurturing my slow, but steady collection of kawaii stuff. And when I say, stuff, I mean STUFF. All kinds of it. From Hello Kitty vintage, Sailor Moon and My Little Pony keychains, MocMoc bobbleheads, Momiji dolls, rolls of decorative tape and stationery, puffy rainbow stickers, to an extensive variety of Unicorno vinyl toys.

Which leads me to how I discovered my latest craze—Tokidoki. As soon as I discovered it when browsing photos on Instagram, I instantly fell in love with its colourful prints, a collage of a number of kawaii characters created by creative designer, Simone Legno.

Legno, along with his partners, Pooneh Mohajer and Ivan Arnold, created the brand of Tokidoki in 2003 in Los Angeles, California—a brand that has exploded into apparel, handbags, cosmetics, accessories, toys, and more.

It has, by agreement and understanding of kawaii lovers everywhere, proclaimed its justifiable cult status. And yes, while I have always professed to snub elitism; my fashion palette and kawaii sensibility have both succumbed to joining the cult that is known and beloved by all Tokidoki followers. (You can follow me on Instagram here.)

I did indeed gasp at the sight of Tokidoki because…well…because I’m MAD for it, much to the expectation and frustration of my Instagram followers who have had to endure a number of my kawaii and Tokidoki posts.

For my fellow kawaii-loving friends and Tokidoki brothers and sisters, here are a couple of new items that I’ve procured for your visual devouring:

Han Ling liquid eyeliner, blue geisha, red geisha. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @Zara.Tokiniha. All rights reserved.
Han Ling liquid eyeliner, blue geisha, red geisha. Not only are they cute, the brush is more like a sharp stick that helps keep the line clean. Its back print says, “Love” on it. Part of my kawaii cosmetic collection. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Tokidoki duffel bag. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @Zara.Tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My very first Tokidoki purchase, a Tokidoki duffel bag. “With Devotion or Zeal” print. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Mashi Maro notebooks and kawaii pen. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Istagram @Zara.Tokiniha. All rights reserved.
Mashi Maro notebooks and kawaii pen from my recent visit to Chinatown in downtown Toronto. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Istagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Tokidoki wallet pouch, green. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @Zara.Tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My Tokidoki wallet pouch, green. “Save the Planet” print. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Momiji doll, red geisha. Kawaii. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My newest Momiji Doll, red geisha. Kawaii. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Tokidoki knapsack, green. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My second Tokidoki bag, a knapsack, green. “Save the Planet” print. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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MocMoc bubblehead, kawaii. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.
MocMoc bubblehead, kawaii beside my Tokidoki print, “Seamless Repeating.” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Tokidoki wallet pouch, blue. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My matching Tokidoki wallet pouch, blue. “With Devotion or Zeal” print. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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The Tokidoki brand has within it a number of kawaii characters belonging to a sub-brand with a back story.

Here are a few of my favourite characters from Tokidoki and their stories:

SANDy:

tokidoki - sandySANDy of Cactus Friends zips herself into a cactus suit as a form of armor to face the cold and frightening world. As a representation of the cactus, she represents conservation and purity of water, a source of life.

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Donutella:

tokidoki - donutellaDonutella of the Donutella and Her Sweet Friends series is from a planet where sugar is used as energy. When scouting for fuel in her donut UFO, she discovered Earth and the large amounts of sweets that she couldn’t resist building a sweet colony here instead of returning to her planet. She now calls Earth her home. And boy, does she make me want to eat a donut.

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Dolce:

 tokidoki - dolce***

Prima Donna:

tokidoki - prima donnaPrima Donna of the Unicornos was once a pony who just happened to cross a magic waterfall—and ta-dah! Poof! Just like that, she was transformed into one of the many unicornos who discovered a magic kingdom on the other side.  Unicornos now live between the magic kingdom and our world. (I love her because she’s not only a unicorn with a crown, she’s also somewhat of a diva. You go, Girl…er…I mean Unicorno!)

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Mozzarella and Bulletto:

tokidoki - mozzarella and bullettoMozzarella and Bulletto are both part of the Moofia, a group of sweet renegades assigned to take milk from bullies in the lunch cafeteria or school yard. These guys are loving and kind to the good kids and cute, too, but make no mistake about it—if you’re a bully, they have guns and they’re not afraid to use them. Their aim? Protect the innocent, give them milk to help them grow strong and healthy.

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Latte:

tokidoki - latteLatte of the Moofia is…well…a latte. And you know how I can’t resist one of those! He’s part of the gang, but he doesn’t believe in guns. Only a high volume of calcium. He may be cute and totally kawaii, but this milk-guy will seriously kick some bully butt. Milk is what makes our teeth and bones strong, right?And boy, it is moo-a-liscious!

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 Are you familiar and/or a fan of kawaii and/or Tokidoki?

Do you own any kawaii and/or Tokidoki pieces in a collection?

Who is your favourite kawaii and/or Tokidoki character and why?

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 zara - tokidoki glow

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3 thoughts on “My New Obsession: Tokidoki and Kawaii”

  1. I’ve just fallen in love with the TOKIDOKI Moofia Blind Box Series! I regret not getting them when I saw them in stores locally a long time ago 😥 I wasn’t into toy collecting then but after reading their backstories I really want them! Especially Moofia, Till Death Do Us Part and Cactus Friends! I love how these stories portray cases in the real world with a cute twist so it isn’t that morbid

    http://www.deehellseven.blogspot.sg

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