Lolita fashion

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Two gothic lolita girls in Harajuku, Tokyo

Lolita (ロリータ・ファッション, rorīta fasshon) is a fashion subculture originating in Japan during the 1990s that is based on Victorian and Edwardian clothing with a Rococo influence.[1][2][3][4][5][6]


Lolita fashion has several key components that define it: generous skirts supported by petticoats, well-constructed clothing, and a modest yet feminine style. Often times the clothing in the fashion is constructed using quality materials such as cotton, silk, organza, tulle, and more; it is generally considered unacceptable to wear polyester or cheap satin fabrics[citation needed]. Modesty is also a must, with many Western lolitas requiring that, at minimum, the shoulders and any cleavage must be covered. Finally, much like the dresses and skirts of the Rococo and Victorian periods, which heavily influence the fashion, skirts must be voluminous and be supported by petticoats.

When the fashion first began, single coloured pieces with lace trim and details were more popular, but dresses with thematic prints are in vogue in the present[citation needed]. Prints can range anywhere from cookies and sweets, to Gothic castles and even silverware.


The first known use of the term "lolita" as a Japanese subculture was in the September 1987 issue of Ryukou Tsushin, a Japanese fashion magazine.[7] However, the origin of the term's meaning is complex and remains unclear.[8] Though the word "lolita" carries a different context in the Western world, it widely agreed upon by many familiar with the history of the fashion that this context was not intended to be applied to the fashion.

The movement itself started organically around 1970 on the streets of Harajuku, Japan, by young women who wished to distance themselves from societal expectations of school, work, and marriage. The original participants decided to spend more time on something that made them happy, instead of spending time searching for a husband (as was the norm at the time). Thus began the fashion's early ties to feminism, and its start as a global interest.

Japanese designers later picked up on the fashion and began creating pieces that would cater to the style. Angelic Pretty, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, and Moi-même-Moitié are largely credited with expanding the style. The owner of the label Moi-même-Moitié, Mana (often called "Mana-sama" by fans), helped to popularize the fashion by wearing it during his tenure as a guitarist in Malice Mizer. Mana and some other famous musicians at the time also founded lolita-inspired magazines,[9] which made the style popular among Japanese youth.

The fashion is being promoted throughout the world by Misako Aoki, the president of the Japan Lolita Association.[10] She was one of the first ever to be offered the position of Kawaii Ambassador, by the government of Japan itself, to represent and educate about Japanese pop culture, which included lolita.


See also[edit]

Further reading and documentaries[edit]


  1. ^ Kathryn A. Hardy Bernal (2011) The Lolita Complex: a Japanese fashion subculture and its paradoxes, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, p. 20.
  2. ^ M. Monden (2008). "Transcultural Flow of Demure Aesthetics: Examining Cultural Globalisation through Gothic & Lolita Fashion, The Japan Foundation Sydney,". New Voices. 2: 21–40 [36]. doi:10.21159/nv.02.02. 
  3. ^ K. Robinson (2014) Empowered Princesses: An Ethnographic Examination of the Practices, Rituals, and Conflicts within Lolita Fashion Communities in the United States, Georgia State University, p. 9.
  4. ^ Chancy J. Gatlin (2014) The Fashion of Frill: The Art of Impression Management in the Atlanta Lolita and Japanese Street Fashion Community, Georgia State University, United States of America, p. 16.
  5. ^ A. Haijima (2013) Japanese Popular Culture in Latvia: Lolita and Mori Fashion, University of Latvia, (Letland), p. 32.
  6. ^ K. Coombes (2016) Consuming Hello Kitty: Saccharide Cuteness in Japanese Society, Wellesly College, United States of America, p. 36.
  7. ^ Kawamura, Yuniya (2012). Fashioning Japanese Subcultures. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-84788-947-8. 
  8. ^ Hardy Bernal, Kathryn Adele. "The Lolita Complex: a Japanese fashion subculture and its paradoxes". Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Ishikawa, Katsuhiko, Gothic & Lolita, Phaidon, 2007, p 1
  10. ^ "Association formed to pitch 'Lolita fashion' to the world". Japan Times. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 

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