Recently, we've explored the colourful world of Tokyo Street Style, with its bold and adventurous vibe piquing the interest of today's global fashion scene. Now, we decided to dig even further and take a peek at one of Japan's biggest style subcultures that have grown chapters beyond the East and have captivated even Western fashionistas: the Lolita style.
Inspired by Edwardian and Victorian kids fashion — emphasis on 'kids' — Lolita lives and breathes for the kawaii (cute) aesthetic, mixing historical inspirations with exaggerated motifs. This is in reference to many fashion movements in Japan centring on romanticised child-like vibes in the '60s up to the '80s, until it was adapted by mainstream artists, grew in the Harajuku district as a fashion subculture, and has captured the curiosity of fashion enthusiasts and designers to the point that it expanded to the U.S. and Europe.
Often distinguishable through the use of petticoats or crinolines, not a lot of people are aware that Lolita fashion is more than just an interesting subgenre, but in a way, also one of the biggest social movements there is. Wondering how and why that is? Read on to find out more about Lolita style and how to adapt its curious aesthetic.
Know its philosophy
One of the pet peeves of people who actually understand Lolita fashion is that it's perceived as cosplay (costume play) by those outside of its community. Many Lolitas even find the confusion insulting as it is a lifestyle and fashion choice, in contrast to cosplay that is meant for role-playing. To those who practice this fashion subculture, it's a known fact that it is actually motivated by fighting against gender-roles and stereotypes by exuding child-like wonder and innocence. Much like Alice In Wonderland, its initial purpose is to portray imagination and playfulness in a very vivid manner and even provide temporary escapism.
As it evolved, it transformed into an empowering movement, with Lolitas simply enjoying the comforts of bold and expressive beauty through the Lolita aesthetic. It is also related more to cuteness and elegance than sultriness and provocativeness, which are some of the typical misconceptions and misinterpretations about this style. With this in mind, treading into this fashion subculture should be treated mindfully before you even think about finding the pieces to fit your Lolita fashion journey.