Lolita fashion

Japanese fashion is notably versatile–from goth and harajuku to sweet lolita, school uniform and traditional culture, it’s hard to find a dull moment. My obsession with anime and manga probably adds to my fascination with Japanese street fashion, which features many styles that look like they’ve stepped straight off the pages of the latest comic book.

As you can see in the video, lolita fashion isn’t for the young, but symbolizes the eternal innocence and purity associated with childhood.

Japanese women dressed in Lolita fashion walk in front of the venue of the "Individual Fashion Expo.IV", a gothic, Lolita and punk fashion event, in Tokyo September 23, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao (JAPAN)

While most Americans who gear up in lolita attire mainly showcase the look at Cosplay events like conventions, Japanese women will wear lolita dresses any day of the week, to the mall or grocery store, even creating their own lolita clubs that meet for tea in parks.

Lolita is a very diverse and evolving fashion. The most popular forms are sweet, gothic, punk and classic. Each incorporates short, puffy dresses with Victorian-esque frills and tights.

But what distinguishes each style is the colors, materials and accessories paired with each dress.

For example, a sweet lolita style embraces more pinks and white lace while gothic embodies more blacks and mesh styles. Make up and wigs also give away which style the wearer wants to convey–whether that be heavy eyeliner, pink wigs, or glitter.

But lolita is not limited to those four categories, and many designers will mix and match styles to create new themes. Because most lolita wearers design and sew their own costumes, the fashion is constantly reinvented.

Sailor lolita combines elements of the Japanese school uniform, gothic and sweet lolita styles. Source: Lolitafashion.org

However, many Americans are embracing the culture through online shopping sites  like lolitafashion.org. The site breaks down the elements of lolita, where to wear the fashion and how to tranistion between styles, like Casual to Ero, etc.

Because the American lolita community is so small and spread out, online forums like lolitafashion.org connect women around the world with fashion ideas, events and evolving trends in Japan.

With vast Internet communities introducing lolita to women everywhere, the style is gaining popularity. New American lolita fashions are emerging and featured during anime conventions and expos, only opening up Japan’s most intricate fashions to women tired of the American norms.

Japan conservatives vs. Japanese skateboarder

The Olympics aren’t going so well for Japan, but not so much athletically speaking. Japanese officials and fans were offended by snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo’s “style” when he appeared in Vancouver wearing the national uniform pants baggy, tie loose, shirt unbuttoned and hair in–gasp–dreadlocks.

Japan’s Minister of Education, Tatsuo Kawabata, was not a fan of the hip hop twist to the national uniform, to say the least.

“It’s extremely regrettable that he dressed in a totally unacceptable manner as a representative of Japan’s national team,” said Kawabata, on the floor of Japan’s parliament. “He lacks the awareness that he is participating in the Olympic Games as a representative of our country with everyone’s expectations on his shoulders. This should never happen again.” (CNN.com)

Is Japan fashion-backwards, or was Kokubo in the wrong? If you look at lolita (see former post) and gothic styles popular in the Japan’s teen fashion industry, it seems very strange that most officials would be angered by his appearance.

But at the same time, when you refer back to Japan’s cultural emphasis on respect for your superiors and dignity when representing your country, it’s easy to see why the older generation is left flabbergasted by Kokubo. He disrespected the Olympic national uniform, in turn embarrassing Japan.

All in all, I think it’s about time for Japan to realize that the younger generation’s craving for individuality and nonconformism isn’t going away. They should embrace the stars of their country and the ways they can influence other cultures all over the world. But that’s just my opinion.