Wednesday, November 18, 2015

°˖✧✝ The Gothic Lolita Purists and the Gothic Brands that Cater to Them ✝✧˖°

One of Moi-meme-Moitie's shop girls posing
inside the shop's famous coffin shaped fitting room.

In Lolita fashion, things change. One year we're joking about how short brands will continue to make their dresses, all the while still wearing them, and in the next, we're hunting for the perfect underskirt to go under our new, fashionable calf-length OP. But for a Gothic Lolita, for the most part, it looks like they've been wearing the same thing they've always been wearing. Some would say that it's because Gothic Lolita isn't as popular as it once was, which would limit the amount of varing designs being produced for them. But, is the fashion's stagnancy really based on it not being able to gain back its popularity or something else? I propose it could be that Gothic Lolitas and the designers who design for them just don't want to change. They just may be content with the look they've already accomplished, and don't feel the need for any other alteration or incorporation within it. 

Post from Lolita Confessions

Take this post from Lolita Confessions, where an anonymous contributor comments on Moi-meme-Moitie's "integrity," as an example. In the post, they mention how the Gothic brand "never made a chocolate print, and never made a horse print" and goes on to say how they've "changed in a few ways since they started out, but at the same time, they just keep doing them." While this reads as a compliment to the brand's devotion, there are those who would say that the reasoning behind the brand's intention is simpler- Gothic brands produce Gothic clothing. However, if a brand's premise was as plain as that, then we would only come to expect Sweet brands to produce Sweet clothing and Classic brands to produce Classic clothing. Though, with all of the Gothic integration within Sweet and Classic designs over the years, we know this not to be true. So how does a Gothic brand's integrity differ from a Sweet one?    

The way the Gothic Lolita and Gothic Aristocrat on the left are style may be outdated,
but their clothing designs can still be seen in current Gothic clothing.

However, the same can't be said for the two Sweet Lolitas on the right.
The Sweet Lolita on the left is wearing Angelic Pretty's Ballerina Print JSK (2005).
And yes, it's being paired with a purse with crucifixes.  

I've come to think of a Gothic brand's consistency as a tool for preservation. Brands that aren't considered to promote Gothic fashion, but occasionally dabble with Gothic incorporation, treat Gothic aesthetics as a trend. Because it's used more as a trend, the driving force behind its use is for a kitschy addition and not one of passion. However, to an actual Gothic brand, their look isn't a novelty. It's their raison d'etre- the reason for their existence.

In an TV interview, Mana shares some insight on his fashion brand: 

"In '99, I opened the fashion shop Moi-meme-Moitie with clothing for Gothic Lolitas. At the time, there was nothing that associated the cute aspect with the dark one, so I did it. Furthermore, I don't like ephemeral fashions. My creations are intended for people who share my viewpoint on things."**

**This English translation was translated from French, which was translated from Japanese. Therefore, the English translation my not reflect the original Japanese fully.

There aren't many interviews from Gothic brand creators or designers in Lolita fashion, but I feel as though their sentiments would reside more along with these lines from Mana, especially with his view on ephemeral fashions. For a fashion to be ephemeral, it'd have to be short-lived. And to Mana, his brand's axiom is the opposite- it's enduring. The proof is in how well these brands have maintained their original concepts and designs in the face of the many changing trends.

MmM Designers: "Boss, what should our new custom lace be this time..."
Mana: "Crosses, we always choose crosses."

Source: Detail shot of Front Cross Chiffon JSK (2010) on Lolibrary 

Though, with how huge of an impact the style had, it seems like the Gothic Lolita sub-style has been around as long as the fashion started. But Gothic Lolita only got its footing in the late '90s during the big boom of Gothic centered entertainment and fashion in Japan. So the Lolita brands before this time weren't designing for those with Gothic interests. It was only during Gothic's popularity did this happen, which springboarded the creation of the black colorway option for their clothing. And ultimately, made a way for non-Gothic brands to participate in this trend.  

Left: Angelic Pretty's Puppet Circus JSK advertisement 
Right: Angelic Pretty's Puppet Circus JSK (2006) stock photo (Source: Hellolace)

Sure, it comes in black and can be styled in a Gothic way, but Puppet Circus's design is not Gothic.
I'm pretty sure pompom trims are a part of a Gothic Lolita's nightmares.

While there were still some Gothic designs being created by these non-Gothic designers sparingly after Gothic Lolita's popularity, the amount of Gothic designs eventually dwindled to what we have now- maybe two or three Gothic collections from these brands a year, with one of those being an obligatory Halloween print (and I'm talking about an actual Gothic design and not just an OP in a darker colorway or a crucifix added to a print). And it's in this way how non-Gothic brands attenuate the Gothic aesthetic that Gothic brands helped expand.

Non-Gothic brand designers: "Crosses are back in style now. Quick, put them on everything!"

From left to right:
Innocent World's Rose and Cross Lace (2015)
BABY, the Stars Shine Bright's Maria's Catholic Nun OP (2014)
Angelic Pretty's Milky Cross OP (2014)

However, for an actual Gothic brand, their approach is different- the designers have stuck with their original concepts instead of playing with the pieces of other styles. Because of that, these small Gothic brands have become the backbone of the Gothic Lolita sub-culture. And because they play such a primary part in the style's representation, there's little room for them to alternate. This may be extreme for most, but for a Gothic Lolita, total adherence to the style just seems to be expected.

For this reason, there's a commitment from Gothic Lolitas that's unprecedented in any other sub-style in the fashion. Simply put, Gothic Lolitas are hardcore- they're here for the long-haul. Just like Gothic brands, you'd rarely find any vacillation among them. One of the funniest examples of this is in a video that was uploaded to YouTube named "Lifestyle of goth-loli girls & Mana Sama Interview" by the user Yhmar21Erio. Due to copyright issues, I'm not able to view the video in my country anymore, but I'll still link it to distinguish which video I'm referring to. Luckily, because the video is old, it's already well know to the people who have been in the fashion for a while. But for those who aren't familiar to the video, I'll describe the part I'm referencing.   

If the original uploaded video doesn't play for you, you may be able to watch it on a different platform here

In this discussion with Sweet and Gothic Lolitas, one of the interviewers ask if the Sweet Lolitas ever wear black, even after being told that the Sweet Lolitas try to live a Sweet, or cute, lifestyle. But surprisingly, the Sweet Lolitas admit to occasionally wearing black clothing. The interviewer then ask the Gothic Lolitas the same question, but referring to the color pink. All of the Gothic Lolitas sternly deny it. The Gothic Lolitas go on to explain how the try to transmit the Gothic aesthetic throughout their life, insisting that they always emulate a Gothic appearance. All three even go as far to admit that they would own a pet bat if it were possible!    

When you can't get a real bat, Antique beasT's Black Cat Headdress can be used as the next best thing.
Thirty years from now, this headdress will still be a staple piece for Gothic Lolitas.

Source: Antique beasT website

All in all, the Gothic sub-culture houses some of the most faithful participants, and many Gothic Lolitas internalize that same kind of loyalty when it comes to their look and atmosphere around them. And although small, Gothic brands remain standing along side their costumers to create looks that are both memorable and enduring.

°˖✧ 'Till next time