Silver Linings: 2020 Has Made Lolita More Accessible, and I Hope Some of the Changes Stay
This year has been a whirlwind of adaptation as everyone has tried to find a place of stability as the world battles a deadly pandemic. And, of course, the vast majority of the changes that the pandemic has brought about have been negative.
As I pen this, 1.7 Million people have lost their lives globally and the United States of America is going through a massive outbreak. Even though vaccines have started to roll out (and I strongly and genuinely encourage each and every one of you to get your COVID19 vaccine), it will take time to vaccinate everyone. I could write novels about how this was handled, and how angry I am about how bad it was allowed to get in this country.
But, one of the things that I can not deny is that some of the changes that have been made because of the pandemic have made aspects of lolita more accessible, especially to those with limited ability to travel outside the home. I wish these things had come out of better circumstances, but unfortunately, they have not.
Two of those things in particular, I think are really nice ideas that I would like to see continue past the end of the pandemic.
First, virtual meetups / events / parties. I feel like the idea of hanging out on skype or in group video chat was super novel ~10 years ago and everyone was really into it, and then… it sort of just went by the wayside and became a thing for Twitch streamers and business conferences. I know there were some video chat rooms back in the day on LJ, but I feel like in the past ~5 years or so, the community really hasn’t been embracing video chat / video meets. Some people will twitch stream or go on FB live or Insta live, and that’s cool and all, but a collaborative video moment where we have multiple content creators giving panels back to back on a specific day like we have seen this year with the virtual conventions hosted by bay area kei hasn’t really been a big thing until now. And, frankly, those events have been great.
I attended the Angelic Pretty Paris tea a bit ago and while there were a few technical difficulties (have you ever felt so badly for someone’s trouble that it’s nearly a physical pain? Because that is how I felt for the poor hosts who were trying so hard ;__; </3 ), it was a very fun experience. We watched a fashion show video together, played a game and got to chat with the other attendees before and after (I think all of this is public information… it also came with the standard “don’t leak info about the new collections!!!” warning and I don’t want them to not do it again, so trying to be very careful. I really enjoyed it, especially as there were many people there who I really just likely will not ever get to meet in person.
I’ve also been going to the panels for most of the online Bay Area Kei events (though I’ve been skipping out on the teas because I really don’t have my life together right now and IDK what the date is a lot of the time…) and I’ve really enjoyed just like… the convention panel experience without the stress of getting dressed and finding the room in time and hoarding my energy to attend.
Lastly, a community a bit south of me, that is a bit of a drive, has been having virtual meetups. I attended a couple earlier in the year and it was nice to see people that I usually don’t see at most of my local meetups because of the driving time.
As someone with a chronic illness that makes me very tired and have very limited energy and stamina, the ability to tune in to a meetup from my sofa has been amazing. There is no driving (specifically driving home after), there is no making sure I’m up to walking around… and if I faint, well, I’m in my own house and I know where the obstacles are. I know how to safely fall in my own house.
And with the panels that are streamed over twitch, there is no camera back on me, so I can listen while I catch up with the house work I didn’t have the energy to do during the week, which makes the whole thing more enjoyable.
And second, virtual shopping at Atelier Pierrot. I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds really cool. A lot of people can’t travel to Japan, either due to costs, or physical limitations. Having a personal shopper in the store showing you things on camera and allowing you to ask questions is a great idea, especially since a lot of the shops don’t allow filming in the stores. It brings a bit of that shopping experience to you, without you having to fly out there.
I’ve only been to two brand shops in the 10+ years I’ve been wearing lolita: I went to the Baby NYC / Tokyo Rebel shop once on a trip to New York, and I went to AP SF / Harajuku Hearts once on a trip to California for a wedding. Outside of that, I’ve only even shopped at convention booths. And even just, getting up, getting dressed, taking the metro to one of those shops, walking to the shop… it’s draining on me. The idea that maybe we could do virtual shopping experiences, even if there ends up being some sort of fee in the future to prevent random people from booking it for laughs, is an incredibly cool thing to me.
I’d really like to see some of these things stick around, even if they are reduced, even after we go back to meet ups in person, and shopping in person and conventions in person in 2021 or 2022.
What do you think? Have you participated in any digital lolita experiences in 2020?
4 comments on “Silver Linings: 2020 Has Made Lolita More Accessible, and I Hope Some of the Changes Stay”
Thank you so much for the Bay Area Kei shout out! I’ve definitely enjoyed that the community has worked so hard to come together – I’ve made friends this year and become close with people just over the web. I love the idea of having events be more accessible from online platforms going into the future. I really feel that the lolita and jfashion community sticking together through this has been my beacon of light through this pandemic.
When my comm first started having virtual meetups, at the beginning of lockdown in the UK, I said then that I’d like to keep hosting some even post-pandemic. The first few we’ve had a couple of newbies (new both to the fashion and to the comm), and they explicitly said that a virtual meetup made them feel more at ease to attend as their first one. For one, the dress code is usually far more relaxed. For another, you don’t have to leave your room – which means not only not having to deal with the anxiety of being “dressed weird” in public, which puts some people off, but also everything you need to keep you comfort is there with you, making for a less stressful first meetup/introduction to the community experience overall. Granted, I’m not sure how things will pan out for me in terms of time post-pandemic, since I often host regular meetups anyway, including bigger ones that involve a lot of planning, but even if it’s only one every quarter, specifically aimed at newbies, that’s still better than none.
I’m new to lolita and had no clue that people have been doing virtual meetups! I guess I’ll start looking around to find any smaller groups in my area, haha. It will certainly be easier for me to break out this way during the pandemic, since as of now I’m not living with or near friends who could accompany me while going outside in lolita.
I have really appreciated being able to attend virtual versions of conventions and events that I wouldn’t have been able to normally attend due to distance or cost. The virtual J-Fashion events held by the community (groups like Bay Area Kei, J-Fashion on Demand) have been amazing! I do also like the fact that I can multitask and do chores while watching the panels, or if I’m feeling low energy most of the panels are recorded so I can watch them later.