Lolita Blog Carnival: Key Differences From When You First Started Lolita To Now
One of my goals for, 2016, I think it was, was to publish more of the posts that I started, but never finished. I never actually finished doing that, (in fact, I think I got worse) so my goal for 2018 is to
attempt to finish my goal for 2016 make goals I’ll actually keep. So, in light of that, I decided back in 2018 that I really liked this lolita blog carnival topic from a few weeks before, that I didn’t see when it came out, and I decided I was going to write about that instead of finishing one of my older posts. Then I managed to not finish this post either.
So, the lolita blog carnival topic for January 19th, 2018 was key differences between when you first started lolita and now. The very first thing that springs into my mind is that I’m almost 10 years older, and I apparently have been eating a lot of cake over the past 10 years (do anyone’s hips actually lie?), but I don’t think that’s really what the topic is supposed to be about.
I first became interested in lolita in 2008/2009. For me, 2010 is around when I finally had a decent grasp of what I was doing and could put together a few decent coords in my wardrobe.
When I was new to lolita, people used celga and japonica for shopping services, and the main places to buy second hand from Japanese lolita were Yahoo Japan Auctions and Mbok. Now, apps like Fril and Mercari seem much more popular (and a lot harder to use automated translation on). More shopping services for Fril and Mercari have been popping up recently, but in 2018 it was still sort of like where we were with mbok when I started. It was hard to find a good SS, and it’s often a little bit of a clunky process. However, now, a year later, it’s gotten even better than it was then, so that’s nice, at least.
Speaking of translation apps, they have made leaps and bounds progress-wise from when I first started as a lolita. Google Translate has a phone app that you can put over a magazine page and it will translate it. Live. On the fly. That’s amazing. Absolutely amazing. Granted, it’s not very good half the time, but it tries, and that’s a huge improvement over not having that service. And translations of Japanese to English inside of google translate have gotten a lot better.
Back when I first started as a lolita, there were things that just didn’t get translated right that google translate breezes through now. The downside to this, is that we have a lot of weird things in lolibrary that are either not translated, or translated differently than how google translate would translate them now, which can cause some confusion when people are trying to go from Japanese names to English names.
And on that note: Lolibrary! Lolibrary didn’t exist when I first started wearing lolita! Neither did Hello Lace. Lolibrary Lolibrary launched on June 15th, 2010 and Hello Lace launched June 17th, 2010. This EGL post trying to document all the AP prints in order came out when I was a newbie. But, beyond that, it was kind of just a mash and jumble of common knowledge, posts on various LJ groups, wishlists, flickr galleries, and people who owned copies of the GLB. There wasn’t a central, detailed, database.
Having that database, once it started getting to be pretty well fleshed out with information was a game changer, because instead of having to know that partial shirred AP JSKs were usually x-size plus x-cm of stretch, you could just… look it up. As time went on, and brands began to publish better measurements, second hand shopping for relatively recent items became so much easier. I used to just bid and hope and I bought a ton of stuff that didn’t fit back in the day. Now, I look almost everything up.
Quick side note: lolibrary gets a ton of traffic, so if the information on lolibrary has ever helped you snag a good deal on a second hand piece, or sell a piece you no longer want, consider making a small donation towards the hosting fees to help keep the site online.
That’s another thing that has changed, it’s a lot easier to order new releases from Japan now. It wasn’t the worst when I started, but now it’s even better than it was, especially with the advent of Tenso.
There is also so much more for sale second hand these days, and at really good prices. There was kind of a bubble there for a while where everything was super expensive, but now secondhand prices seem to have calmed back down and are the same as, if not better, than they were when I started.
Also, Circly / Lace Market! Lacemarket is wonderful and makes things so much easier! No fiddling with image hosting or trying to format a sales post in HTML, or looking through piles and piles of journal posts to find that one print you are looking for. Feedback is automatically saved! No moderator has to go through and add it up by hand! It’s wonderful and the developer(s) deserve so much credit and respect for their hard work!
The community has also changed a lot since I started. EGL is no longer the go-to spot. The community is now more fractured, with people on places like Insta, FB, Amino and Discord. There is definitely also a sort of… disconnectedness as well.
That said two things that have changed in the community, that I’m really pleased about, are that replicas (counterfeit items) are now frowned upon (as they are in most fashion collector communities) and I also have not seen a post about skin lightening in a very, very long time. I realize that the absence of posts about skin lightening products and praising paleness as a key part of lolita doesn’t necessarily mean everyone suddenly stopped being racist, but it’s encouraging to see that this discussion has basically disappeared from the major online discussion platforms that I frequent.
The fashion it’self, of course, has also changed in the last 10 years. Back when I started, printed cotton AP, mostly in pastels, was king. Pastel wigs were the biggest hot new thing, and twin tails (wigs with two huge, full, curly, pigtails that clipped on with claw clips) reigned supreme. And twin tail wigs were expensive; you would shell out a good $65 USD for a meh quality one from a cosplay wig supplier.
That’s one thing that has definitely changed. There are so many more good options for wigs these days that are specifically tailored to Jfashion. Also, of course, twin tails are pretty out of style (not going to lie though, I do have a soft spot for them in my heart still when done well).
Sock lengths have changed as well with leg wear almost always covering the knee now (it looks weird to see knee socks…) unless it’s an ankle sock, which are pretty popular now.
Chiffon fabrics, and more “grown up” looking prints and dresses are in now. Where before, the stiffness of thick, quality cotton was a hallmark of good quality, now, good quality is a chiffon or crepe de chine with a nice drape and good finishing work.
And while it feels like we are shifting closer to classic, the loudness brought into the fashion by OTT sweet seems to have only grown in the last 10 years.
Part of this, I think is due to how people are producing and consuming content via Instagram and other self-promo centric platforms. If the community shifts towards people posting their best photos, then it’s only natural that we have a sort of costumization of the fashion as people use more and more props and non-clothing items to try to have the best photoshoot. Because there is this underlying momentum in Insta culture and self promo culture that sort of pushes people to get the most shares, the most follows, the most likes. And of course, whatever stands out, whatever is the most loud, wins in the sea of noise.
Because of this, I think that the fashion is shifting away from wearbility and more and more into performance art. And, that isn’t exactly a bad thing, there is value in fashion as art. But, I also think that we tend to ignore this, and pretend it doesn’t exist, that it’s not happening because we don’t want to be lumped in with cosplayers, or other groups because we feel that outsiders look down on those groups in ways that they don’t look down on “fashion”.
At the same time though, I also think that there is a sort of trend towards comfort in lolita with brands putting out a lot more sack shape pieces, that are apparently quite comfortable for people who suit the look (I look terrible in them, unfortunately, so I wouldn’t know)
There is also a trend towards much larger sizing in general. When I first started wearing lolita, it was difficult for me to find pieces that went even up to a 98cm bust. Now though, a lot of brands make half or more of their pieces that large (or larger). In the past, my girlfriend would fit into just about anything a brand put out, but lately she has started to have to take things in and make them smaller far more often (though there are still lots of things made quite small still). And while I certainly am not celebrating the fact that she sometimes has fit issues now, I have to say, it is nice to see brands putting out a wider variety of sizes.
All in all, while there are a few changes that make me a bit nostalgic, I think as a whole, the community and the fashion has gotten better over the past 10 years, and I hope it continues to grow in positive ways over the next 10.