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The Life and Death of a Fashion

October 1, 2008

The first time I went to Japan in 1999, I was surprised at how familiar it seemed. I guess I expected it to seem more “foreign”. Even my girlfriend, Japanese, commented on how “un-foreign” it all seemed. Two things, however, were so bizarre and unfamiliar that they blew my mind – and they were both fashion trends. One was Ganguro in Shibuya – which has now mostly disappeared. The other was Gothic Lolita in Harajuku on Sundays. By now, we are probably all familiar with this fashion, and it has way-outlasted Ganguro.

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend seeing KAMIKAZE GIRLS (Shimotsuma Monogatari 下妻物語) – it’s an endearing send-up of the whole Tokyo Lolita world.

Confined to Tokyo for years and only followed by Japanophiles, it finally hit the American mainstream when Gwen Stefani co-opted it and featured a dancing troupe, “The Harajuku Girls“, in videos and on tour (it was also the name of her album)- who were forbidden from speaking English for the press.

Soon, generic Harajuku fashion started popping up in boutiques, with such lines as Stefani’s own Harajuku Lovers. This stuff is mainly jeans and t-shirts with the logo on them, and not Lolita bloomers and such.

Then, this past weekend, after around a decade (more?) had passed since the Lolita style started in Tokyo, The New York Times online featured a peice on New Yorkers awkwardly rocking the fashion. Wow, I thought Brooklyn was supposed to set trends.

Um, Awkward....

Um, Awkward....

Yeah...not so much...

Yeah...not so much...

Well, I thought this was surprising…since it was so late catching on. I figured this was the death knell for the fashion. Hot Topic must be ordering this stuff for the winter.

Well, I was too optimistic. It has actually hit a further bottom than I had imagined. Witness the autumn flyer from Party City:

Click to Enlarge

Notice the ages for whom this is intended. Other variants include Gothic Geisha and Lolita Kimono .

Hannah Montana? Gabriella and Sharpay? Puh-lease! That is sooo for 10-year-olds!

As my friend Silky commented, “The New York Times is one thing, but when it hit hits Party City – that’s a wrap!”

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