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The origin of the term's meaning is complex, and remains unclear. The movement probably started in the late 1970s when famous labels including Pink House, Milk, and Pretty (later known as Angelic Pretty) began to sell clothing.
In the 1990s, brands such as Princess Princess began to rise in popularity. This popularity was in part furthered by the success of early visual kei bands throughout Japan, with icons such as Mana of Malice Mizer founding lolita inspired magizines. which prompted the style to become popularized in Tokyo with Japanese youth. In many ways, the spread of a youthful aesthetic could be seen as a modest parallel to the rise of the kinderwhore aesthetic and the influence of visually distinct "girl power" style of the Spice Girls throughout the west. Visually, the aesthetic is generally far more elaborate and leans towards more modest stylings than the youth focused fashion of the 90s.
"Elegant Gothic Lolita" (EGL) and its masculine equivalent, "Elegant Gothic Aristocrat" (EGA), are sub-styles of Gothic Lolita and of aristocrat fashion, championed by the visual kei rock musician Mana with his fashion label Moi-même-Moitié, and influenced by steampunk fashion.
The magazine Gothic & Lolita Bible was founded in 2001.
- Jimenez, Dabrali (26 September 2008). "A New Generation of Lolitas Makes a Fashion Statement". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- Hardy Bernal, Kathryn Adele. "The Lolita Complex: a Japanese fashion subculture and its paradoxes". Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- Ishikawa, Katsuhiko, Gothic & Lolita, Phaidon, 2007, p 1
-  Archived 3 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- Anonymous (2002). "Artist Brands: Part 1, Mana x Moi-mene-Moitie". Gothic & Lolita Bible. Nuuberguu. 4: 23.
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