I'm sure a lot of other J-fashion blogs are going to blog about their thoughts on this topic that seems to be especially rehashed this past week on a lot of major websites. I know what brought it to my attention was a good friend of mine, go_slow_ly, getting into a Facebook conversation about how lolita as a fashion seems to be evolving and moving towards toned-down brands.
This question is asked literally every year, someone randomly posts on their blog "I heard (insert brand here) is going bankrupt soon, is lolita dying???" The answer is, of course, the very vague yes and no.
Those of you who remember how the EGL community was a few years back probably recall the whole uproar over Angelic Pretty making a cake hat, but after the release of Sugary Carnival, the increase of OTT sweet has sky-rocketed. Angelic Pretty has faced a level of popularity quite unparalleled by other lolita brands, (let's not think about the first release Chess Chocolate and Gloria fiascos), and there has been a real evolution into the cuter styles like Fairy-kei and over-the-top Sweet Lolita.
Oh, how you've changed.
One of my favourite posts to really demonstrate the evolution of Angelic Pretty as a brand is this super handy print chronology on EGL. The light colours that really made sweet lolita different from the muted colours commonly used in classic, or the dark colours in gothic, are the only thing that really sets older Angelic Pretty pieces aside from classical pieces. As the years progressed however, the addition of sweeter motifs (literally motifs made of SWEETS), extra frills, baby-doll cuts, and shorter skirt lengths have led sweet lolita into an entirely new aesthetic. It was gradual if you experienced the change, but you can really see it just scrolling through the print chronology.
Mary Magdalene is looking a little short in comparison!
Classic brands that haven't really budged much since their inception (the first one that comes to mind is Mary Magdalene), have started to use motifs that would have arguably made their dresses look sugary sweet five years ago. Mary Magdalene has been in a worrisome spot financially since they have not been taking too many reserves or creating new ideas to tantalise their audience, but have been hopping onto the print bandwagon to try and keep their popularity going, but with the release of their first original print (I'll be talking about the print trend a bit later) can turn that around.
Some things never change (these were released 5 years apart).
Doesn't stop me wanting them though.
Doesn't stop me wanting them though.
What does this say about the people purchasing lolita clothing? The aesthetic may be hard to manage for some, or even those who are involved in the fashion have been growing up and out of the harder-to-wear lolita silhouette. Lolita as a fashion has also been mingling with other styles more, and you see more people trying to cross the fashion with other aesthetics, and the brands may have realised the potential in marketing some of their pieces to audiences other than the typical lolita one.
The short answer is, the fashion and the people who are involved in the fashion are changing. As one group of people grows up and has to re-arrange their priorities, they leave and a new set of people, bringing in a new set of ideals, comes in. The fashion itself is becoming largely diluted (I'm using your word here Aviva because it is a good word) because of the rise of replicas, cheaper lolita alternatives (DreamV, Axes Femme, and a few other stores sell gorgeous lolita-esque clothing without the pull on your wallet), and quite simply, the number of people graduating from the fashion. The only truly unique and irreplaceable thing brands can offer are over-the-top prints, and it has led to major brands releasing so many more prints per year than used to be normal.
Oh, my high school fashion inspiration.
Who knows, lolita may die much like decora or manba did, but there are still traces of both of those styles in what is popular nowadays, such as fairy-kei and kurogyaru. They may adopt new names, new trends, and new token brands, but the influence will always be there.
My personal opinion is that lolita won't completely die out within the next decade, but just go in a new direction. I can't imagine big-sellers like Angelic Pretty and Baby the Stars Shine Bright, who have their own stores in the US where the economy is suffering so badly, having to close their doors anytime soon. The number of foreign lolitas has absolutely exploded as well--I live in one of the hottest places in the US and that doesn't stop a group of ten-or-so of us getting together in all our frills.
Do you like where it's going? Hate it? Let me know what you think!