Lolita fashion at its core embodies femininity in a cute and modest way. It is definitely a counter culture fashion movement because it is meant to subvert and exist completely outside of the male gaze. Lolita rejects modern silhouettes and adds a sense of adolescence and innocence to the look. Many compare lolita fashion and styling to doll-like looks.
Lolita is also a gender free Japanese fashion movement! Although the styles are often feminine, those who wear lolita can identify however they would like.
Lolitas can be found very commonly on the streets of Harajuku where the fashion movement really took off, but also in popular media like anime and games. When lolitas do not play a main role in the story though they are sometimes the ‘butt of the joke’ and their clothes reduced to the idea of “costumes” or cosplay (costume roleplay) instead of a legitimate fashion style.
A cult classic book and later movie Shimotsuma Monogatari: Yanki-chan to Rorita-chan, Kamikaze Girls in English, does a good job of telling the story from the point of view of a young lolita navigating life while growing up in a very rural part of Japan.
Like mentioned before, Harajuku is a good place to start for those who are interested in lolita fashion. Popular brands like Baby the Stars Shine Bright, which is featured in Kamikaze Girls, Angelic Pretty, Moi-même-Moitié, and others all have stores in Harajuku. However, if you are not in Harajuku fret not, many lolita brands have stores across Japan and overseas.
Let’s take a look at some of the current fashion looks for the 2022 spring lolita season.
One of the most popular and recognizable lolita brands is a bit of a mouthful. Often abbreviated to BTSSB, Baby the Stars Shine Bright got its start in the late 1980s in Shibuya, Tokyo. Often featuring sweet and hime (princess) lolita styles with light colors, balloon sleeves and very full skirts. BTSSB is a pillar of the lolita community and a favorite among Harajuku locals.
The current BTSSB shop in Harajuku is located just a few minutes walk from the busy Takeshita Street and Harajuku Station. It is on the second floor of a building right above another lolita shop, MILK and their masculine counterpart, MILKBOY.
For spring 2022 夢見る Fleur étoile is a new style that goes with the sweet spring hanami feel. For this release, many bows and ruffles adorn layers of lace and tulle. The look and accessories come in white, pink, and sax.
The one piece dress features a bell sleeve with a ¾ length. The jumperskirt version of this dress is very similar to the one piece dress except without the sleeves and with a large bow in the center of the back. To complete this spring time look, try adding the matching headdress and short gloves to the outfit. To take it just one step further, try adding in the Butterfly Crown Scepter for a more regal look.
Alice and the Pirates is a sub brand owned by BTSSB. Imagine Alice from Alice in Wonderland running off to Neverland to fight with pirates…and then throw in a little steampunk. That is pretty much the Alice and the Pirates vibe. Styles range from gothic lolita, to ōji (prince) which is a more masculine and regal version of lolita.
Alice and the Pirates also offers clothing in men’s sizes, which is a contrast to the “free size” that is often the standard for many clothes in Japan. Free size is Japanese for “one size fits all,” or as many westerners know it as, “one size fits small.”
Alice and the Pirates is located in the famous LaForet building right off of Takeshita Street in Harajuku. LaForet is home to the stores of many lolita and alternative clothing brands, a Vivienne Westwood shop, and the Sailor Moon Store as well.
For spring 2022 a popular new line came out called Humpty Dumpty. Surprisingly the print does not feature any eggs sitting on walls. Instead it is reminiscent of a marching band. Stripes are featured on the skirt and balloon pants that make up this line, as well as quite a bit of lace around the trim.
From the top of the waist, both the skirt and the balloon pants have the same suspender-like straps that can either go straight over the shoulders or cross in the back. The bottom is where these two differ. The skirt is very full with two different visible layers at the bottom. The balloon pants are also very full but of course that is achieved by gathering the fabric just above the knee.
To complete this look, a matching hat and argyle over-the-knee socks were released with the set. You could even go the extra step and get the matching shoes which feature a faux wooden bottom.
Another popular lolita fashion brand that is located in LaForet, and right next to Alice and the Pirates, is Angelic Pretty. Angelic Pretty is another lolita brand that got its start in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Similar to BTSSB, Angelic Pretty focuses on more sweet lolita styles and uses a lot of chiffon.
A spring 2022 release for Angelic Pretty is the Girly Apples line. Items from this line feature of course apples, but also bows, ribbons, and apple blossom flowers. Apples with matching bows on the top line the bottom hem of the skirt. Items in this release come in white, pink, and black.
The one piece dresses have short puffed balloon sleeves with a lace trim, and ribbons that cross along the chest. The jumperskirt version of this print has a thick strap over the shoulders instead of sleeves. Want to add a little flair to this outfit? Add in the Girly Apple necklace which features a sparkly apple with pearls along the chain.
Interested in trying out lolita for yourself? If not, there are lots of other Japanese fashion trends and cute clothes for you to try. If you are interested in trying lolita or checking out other popular Harajuku fashion brands, we can help. There are also lots of other things to do in Harajuku while you test out your new looks and try to ace the kawaii aesthetic.
Takashita Shopping Street is home to many crepe and cotton candy shops, kawaii 100 yen shops, and many many kawaii Japanese clothing shops. No matter what you are sure to have a fashionable and kawaii time!
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