Walking into the dealer’s room, I was surrounded by the usual con merchandise: walls of DVDs and manga, plushies, figures, wall scrolls and etc.., but there was one barrage of items I was not prepared to see…the multiple booths filled with Lolita clothes and accessories.
Lolita fashion is a popular style in Japan, heavily influenced by Victorian clothing. The look primarily consists of knee length dresses/skirts, headdress, petticoats, stockings and high platforms. The style become popular in the late 70’s in the Kansai region, ultimately reaching Japan’s capital in the 90’s. Today it is still popular and can even be found in Japanese department stores.
There are many types of Lolita fashion, more than I thought possible. The most popular at this years convention being Cosplay Lolita. Cosplay Lolita refers to those who wear Lolita outfits to conventions and as in a way cosplaying as Lolita girls. The Lolita community seems to look down on these individuals as their clothing usually isn’t of high quality and they aren’t as serious about their clothes. Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with wanting to wear something cute to a convention. And honestly, where else would you wear a Lolita dress in America? Gothic Lolita is similar to other Lolita clothing except that obviously a lot of their clothing is black and white. Outfits are also typically more modest than other styles.
Sweet Lolita (my personal favorite) is the most decorated and child-like style. Most outfits are pink, white, baby blue or other pastel colors. Accessories and decorations consist of cute ornaments such as straberries, cherries, cakes, candies, hearts, polka dots, and flowers. Another Lolita style that seemed to be quite popular was Punk. Punk is one of the more difficult forms (because mixing a studded belt and a frilly skirt isn’t the easiest thing). A Punk Lolita would be similar to someone from Shugo Chara, where there’s a lot of plaid, layers, and deconstructed fabrics. Other Lolita styles are casual, hime, shiro, kuro, classic, country, sailor, wa, guro, ero, kodona and aristocrat.
So why the sudden surge in popularity in Lolita fashion at Otakon? As a Lolita fashion fan myself, I find it difficult to resist the urge to put on beautiful dresses trimmed with lace, and all the extremely cute accessories that are part of every outfit. And with popular animes and mangas such as Rozen Maiden, xxxHolic, Shugo Chara, Paradise Kiss, Trinity Blood, Pita-ten etc… also featuring Lolita fashion, the phenomenon is becoming more widely accepted in the US Anime community.