Lolita fashion is highly driven by visual stimuli – the silhouettes, colors, textiles, and patterns are arguably the most important part of the fashion. Most veteran members of this community discovered the lolita through magazines and mooks. Street snaps, tutorials, and new releases were published first in Japanese street fashion magazines. Through these, the aesthetics came into its own for what we now know lolita to be.
Eventually, the community grew large enough for magazines to be published solely for lolita fashion. Some of the most popular magazines include Gothic Lolita Bible, Kera, and Fruits. Brands even released their own seasonal lookbooks. The community continued to blossom, and even personalities like Misako Aoki and Rinrin Doll discovered the wonderful world of lolita fashion by being recruited to model for magazine shoots.
Apart from fashion magazines, lolita fashion has also been represented in fictional works like Kamikaze Girls, Nana, Paradise Kiss, Oreimo, etc. These representations of lolitas are important in validating lolita fashion as a legitimate subculture for non-wearers. Media often plays a very important role in what people deem normal – and seeing characters who have similar interests as people they interact with lessens the misunderstanding of what lolita is all about.
Scholarly works are also available – albeit limited, being a niche interest. So Pretty, Very Rotten: Comics and Essays on Lolita Fashion and Cute Culture by Jane Mai and An Nguyen is a very good example of this. MementoMorie also provides an excellent list of essays in their blogpost Lolita Fashion in Anime – The Awesome and The Ita. Small as the sources may be, I think it’s still a valuable addition to keeping track of lolita fashion and culture.
Something that I see as very easy to come across is misrepresentation. It happens in fiction, newspaper and magazine articles, and video documentaries. It’s far easier to find materials that misunderstand or misuse what lolita fashion is than finding an accurate depiction of its wearers. As such, I think it’s very important for us as members of the community to continue publishing accurate information about the fashion we so love.
Publications created by lolitas are still available for the community, and often, they look towards other members for their input. And thanks to the wide plethora of technology we have, it’s become so much easier for us to share our side of the fashion. Photo magazines, zines, lookbooks, yearbooks, and many other publications are easier for us to produce and distribute. And I see the support for these endeavors just rising.
An example of community-driven publication is Lolita Memoires by Yu-En Cosplay. This is a crowd-sourced photo magazine in the Philippines published annually – usually around the latter part of the year. Another example is Frills Without Borders, an online zine project by thedevilscreampuff set to be released this year. And in our multi-media world, online publications like blogs are also great contributions to the ever-growing world of lolita fashion.
We all love how it feels to look through magazine pages and get inspired by the coords designers put together. We love reading novels and mangas where we see characters we relate to. We love poring over artbooks and comics. We love seeing our favorite bloggers update their websites. We just love seeing contents for our community. Lolita publications are important to us because it sparks our love for the fashion and the people we connect to within it. This community grew from pages in magazines, and continues to blossom through our continuous sharing and exchange of ideas in words, pictures, papers, and screens.