Crimson Reflections

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Lolita Fashion History

Is Pink House Lolita? Japanese Lolita Respond in 2004

Fall 2002 catalog

There is a translation of one of the lolita history timelines that I mirrored here quite a few years ago because the original had gone offline. One thing that I found while trying to find a copy of it, was this blog post by Sumire Sweet / sumirechan / sumire who did the original translation.

The blog post is for her own notes, but it has some really great information in it about lolita and about pink house. For example, she linked to a timeline of pink house from 2005/2006-ish and her copy actually has more stuff than the one in the wayback machine.

Below, I’ve copied and roughly translated the timeline. It’s worth noting that this is the corporate history of Pink House Co., Ltd, so it starts in 1982. Melrose Co., Ltd, the parent company of Pink House, however, is older as far as I know. Also, as always, I’m not fluent in Japanese, I can’t read Japanese, so this may include some mistakes.

Official Company History

1982年 4月 (株)メルローズより独立。(株)ピンクハウス設立。

1982 April – Pink House Co., LTD is established as an independent company from the parent company Melrose Co., Ltd.


“Pink House” Starts

1982年 10月 「インゲボルグ」スタート。

1982 October – “Ingeborg” starts

1984年 12月 営業部、生産部を渋谷区南平台町に移転。

1984 December – The sales department and the production department relocate to Nanpeidaichō, Shibuya-ku.

1985年 6月 「カールヘルム」スタート

1985 June – “Karl Helmut” starts

1988年 8月 「パウダー」スタート。

1988 August – “Powder” starts

1988年 12月 「ベビーピンクハウス」スタート。

1988 December – “Baby Pink House” starts

1989年 6月 資本金を3,000万円に増資。

1989 June – Increased capital to 30 million yen

1992年 1月 渋谷区南平台町に本社ビル竣工。

1992 January – Head office building completed in Nanpeidaichō, Shibuya-ku.
Moved the head office to Nanpeidaichō, Shibuya-ku.

1992年 9月 (株)ピンクハウスより「パウダー」独立。

1992 September – “Powder” becomes independent from Pink House co., Ltd.

1999年 10月 本社を世田谷区玉川台に移転。

1999 October – headquarters relocated to Tamagawadai Setagaya-ku.

2003年 10月 本社を目黒区青葉台に移転。

2003 October – headquarters relocated to Aobadai, Meguro-ku.

2004年 11月 (株)ジェディックスと合併。

2004 November – Merged with Jedix Co., Ltd.
Starting off with 5 brands, including “Powder”

“COMPANY” accessed 5/3/06

One of the other really, really, really cool things she has links to are a collection of polls that were done on gll and were answered (presumably) by Japanese lolita. One that was particularly interesting is this one about Pink House and Lolita. There were 290 votes (4 are literally western keyboard mash bot gibberish, so I’m omitting them) and it ran from September 12, 2004 07:04:40 on. I’m accessing it from the wayback machine and the page I’m accessing indicates the last vote recorded before that snapshot was June 21, 2008 11:26:15. That said, between this version and a version from 2007, only 6 non-spam votes were added. Because of this, I assume most of the answers were likely around 2004 or shortly after. I’ve translated the poll the best I can below.

[Title] Do you think that Pink House is Lolita (ロリィタ)?

40% (116 votes) – I think “Pink House” is it’s own style called “Pink House”

21% (60 votes) – No, I think it’s different from lolita

11% (33 votes) – It’s “Aunty-Style” ( おばさん系 / Obasan-kei ) lolita

6% (17 votes) – It’s “Country-Style” ( カントリー系 / Kantorī-kei ) fashion

5% (15 votes) – It’s subtly different~~ (Specifically it says びみょう~~)

4% (12 votes) – It’s completely different!

3% (10 votes) – If you style it as lolita, it can be lolita

2% (7 votes) – What is Pink House?

2% (5 votes) – Some things are lolita / depends on the item

1% (3 votes) – ゴスロリ (GosuRori) is not the same as ロリータ (Lolita)
Note – They are nit-picking how the person asking spelled lolita. The alternate GosuRori spelling is kind of like when we use a weird spelling to not use the word “lolita” with strangers.

1% (3 votes) – Yes, it’s lolita

>1% (2 votes) – I thought “Pink House” was a lolita brand… it’s not?!?

>1% (2 votes) – It’s casual / everyday lolita clothing

>1% (1 votes) – PinHa is PinHa-deshō
I think they are shortening pink house like pokemon is short for “pocket monsters”, and then I think they are saying it’s also the name of the style?

>1% (1 vote) – I think so?

>1% (1 vote) – Elegant Adult Princess Style…Really?
Or something along those lines, with a negative tone, like sarcasm, I believe?

>1% (1 vote) – Kaneko-style (Kaneko-kei) isn’t lolita, it’s a different style.
Kaneko is the founding designer of Pink House who left in 1994 to start a new self-named brand, so this term, I believe is meant to encompass Pink House + the designer’s newer work

The verdict? Overwhelmingly with approximately 222 of 290 votes, Pink House is declared to be unique and separate from lolita. It’s interesting as well that no-one mentions Natural Kei or any other term other than カントリー系 (Country-Kei) which seems to just be the concept of western “Country-Style” in general (when I google it, I get american country kitchens).

It’s also interesting to note the argument about how to spell “lolita”. The platform gll (Gothic Lolita Links) was a platform specifically for Japanese lolita, and it spelled it out, in the western alphabet as “Lolita”, so even though there was an argument about the spelling, I don’t think that means that the people answering weren’t real lolita.

5 comments on “Is Pink House Lolita? Japanese Lolita Respond in 2004

  1. Maybe I’m just showing my lolita age here, but I never considered Pink House to be a lolita brand. Despite how many of their pieces are sold in places like Closet Child and the part they played in the development of early proto-lolita look, to me the look of them (and specifically the often loose, oversized fit) was much closer to mori-kei and, maybe, otome-kei. If I had to compare them, I’d say that they had much more in common with Jane Marple and Milk than, say, Innocent World. However, just like people can and do successfully incorporate some Jane Marple and other otome/mori-kei branded clothing into their lolita coordinates (or even other brands not related to lolita, like maybe Killstar or Hell Bunny), I feel like the same can be done with Pink House. There is enough detail and femininity to work with the intricate lolita dresses, so the rest is just about styling and coordinating.

    1. I don’t think that’s an uncommon opinion at all. And I’m certainly not trying to argue that Pink House is lolita! XD

      But Pink House is often cited as being one of those brands that is one of the ancestors of lolita, so I thought it was particularly interesting to see that even in 2004 when lolita was pretty young and had a much smaller international following (and so the international community maybe-wasn’t-quite-so-solid-on-what-qualified-something-as-lolita-or-not), the Japanese community was pretty certain that it wasn’t lolita, but, it was close enough to lolita that someone thought to ask the question.

      I think it’s also interesting to see the overlaps between what Juliette et Justine was doing in their very early years and what Pink House was doing. While I certainly wouldn’t argue that JetJ wasn’t lolita or that Pink House was, there are some echoes of Pink House influence in some of the details and garment cuts that JetJ did in their early years, IMHO that are really interesting.

      Mostly, I’m more interested in the fact that no one there mentioned Natural Kei, which is the name that the western community latched onto for the traditional layered pink house style (when any name at all is used other thank just Pink House), and instead is using “Pink House” as a style name, or even the Kaneko Isao’s name as a style name. Unless Natural-Kei is the English translation for カントリー系 / Country-kei, but that seems like a stretch. I sort of wonder if カントリー系 / Country-kei was more of a word being used for prairie revival style? But a google image search didn’t have pages and pages of gunne sax, so I don’t know.

      I also wonder if the same poll had been done just a couple years later, if Mori girl would have gotten some portion of the votes, or if Mori Girl was so short lived as a style name in Japan that it wouldn’t have really been applied over-top of an existing brand with decades of history?

      I don’t know, it’s just really interesting to me, lol XD

      1. Surprisingly, when searching カントリー系 ファッション on Google Images you actually get images from the prairie movie “Little Woman” due to being citied as country style.

  2. I live in Japan and Japanese never think of Pink House as Natural kei. Natural kei is more muted tones like grays, white, creams, browns, khaki green and sometimes light grayish purple and peach tone, and made of cotton, hemp, linen, wool, many times having baskets as purses or linen tote bags, and its much more simpler, think Samonsa Mos2, Ehka Sopo, studio clip, Joie de Vivre, and some stuff from earth music& ecology. Pink House has more sweet stuff like sometimes strawberry and cherry prints, mint green, pastel pink, bright red, etc. and has more in common with otome kei brands like Jane Marple. For some reason outside of Japan, people seem to think of Pink House as Natural kei or Mori girl, but in Japan it isn`t thought of as either of these two styles.

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