Wednesday, January 27, 2010

U.S. vs. Taiwan Lolita Style

First of all, I would like to mention that my experience with "U.S." lolita style is based largely on the livejournal community EGL and also real-life experience in the MidWest.  My experience with "Taiwan" lolita style is only based on Taiwan online forum and in real life in Taipei (Northern Taiwan).

What are some differences that I have noticed between the two?
The biggest difference online is is experience, I believe.  The egl comm on lj has more accurate representations of lolita fashion, more constructive criticism given, more "experimentation", and more rules.  This is not a bad thing of course, but when the community is so big, of course there will be more peer evaluation.

In the Taiwan forums, there are many more "itas" with the lace monster dresses, low quality material, strange design, etc.  The only constructive criticism I have seen in the Taiwan forums is usually regarding skirt length, petticoats or hair accessories - very basic fundamentals of the fashion.  There seems to be little to no recognition of fabric or lace quality, design aesthetics, or the "finer" details of the fashion.  Being such a small community, I can see why it would be that way.  The smaller a community, the longer it takes to evolve due to lack of criticism/variety.  It is not a bad thing either, in fact, I think it will be interesting to see how the community grows :)  Those of you who have been in the fashion longer probably remember how our own community evolved - are polka dots/stripes lolita?  Is ricrac lolita?  Are glitter overlays on fabric lolita?  Is bittersweet a real subcategory?  That one is still being debated!  (personally I say, don't over-categorize!  We don't need to label every single thing or it takes the fun out of creativity!)
Of course there are still the "good" lolitas who follow all the rules properly, have good quality dresses, matching coords, and all that good stuff!  I hope I did not give the impression that Taiwan has only itas!  I would say Taiwan is actually split about 60/40 on lolita/ita photos that have been posted.
The general age group is also younger with about 30% in the 13-15 range, and 30% in the 16-18 range as seen in this (constantly updating) poll here
One more thing is that they all refer to each other as "Princess" which I think is adorable sweet!

The general atmosphere of Taiwan forums seems to be more accepting/relaxed.  Probably because of less traffic, but they all seem to be more willing to post photos and attend meetups.  The biggest obstacle mentioned seems to be family/friends opposition of the style, actually!

In contrast, egl often gets more "please don't be harsh!" or "I am afraid of being teased/attending meets" comments and has definitely gotten a reputation for being catty or elitist.  While I do not find egl to be quite the monster it is often made out to be, there still exists communities purely for snarking (getoffegl and lolitafucksmkii as examples).  Most likely due to its large size, veteran lolitas tire of newbies asking the same questions, not researching, etc. which leads to internet drama. 
This will happen in all subcultures, so I am not too worried or bothered by it :3  In fact, sometimes drama comms are a good way to find out about sketchy buyers.  I am no longer a member of, nor do I watch getoffegl but once in a couple of months I will go visit the comm and skim the public entries to see if there have been any "GTFO" posts for sellers/buyers I should watch out for ^u^ 
The general age range is also higher, usually mid-twenties, though recently there seems to be more high school girls than before.

What about in real life?
Availability of lolitable clothing in Taiwan also seems to be much more scarce.  In the U.S. there are stores such as H&M, Forever 21, etc. that have blouses, cardigans, etc. with subtle elements of lolita style such as ruffles, puff sleeves, etc. which  can be worked into a lolita wardrobe.  Taiwan has much less variety, being such a small country, the "in" style is pretty much what is offered everywhere.  When I was in Taipei, I did find two retailers at night markets that sold Gothic, Lolita, and Punk clothing.  One is in ShiLing Night Market, and sold mostly punk pants and tops.  I got a Putumayo ripoff hoodie (seen in my banner) that I had wanted forever!  The price is not cheap, but since I could not find the original anyway, I bought it.  They also had Angelic Pretty ripoffs (Royal Poodle and Miracle Candy).  The fabric print was ok from a distance, but the styling and quality of the dresses was so bad that it would not have been worth it to even buy it for reconstruction.  I was pretty sad because I wanted a Royal Poodle print skirt!
The other one was actually called "Gothic, Lolita, Punk" but sold mostly Gothic clothes, some accessories, one or two ita dresses, and shoes.  My feet are huge size in Taiwan and they did not stock my size (US8).  Also, the shop girl was fairly rude, so I did not stay long enough to check out all the bags or accessories.
In southern Taiwan, there was a BABY reseller, so the lucky girls in the South could get their hands on some Brand without ordering online!  However, they are closing at the end of February 2010, after 3 years of business :(  I am sorely disappointed that I never got a chance to visit!  Visiting a boutique is so different than viewing it all online.  I truly hope that the reseller is closing so that an official BABY branch can open!  But hopefully closer to Taipei ;)  TaiZhong (center of Taiwan) would be a good place because it is closer to everywhere I think... *cross fingers*
Accessories are fairly easy to find in night markets.  I personally have difficulty finding earrings that don't make my ears itch though ^^; I have an allergy to some types of metal...

In America, as I mentioned above, there are many places to get accessories and sometimes even articles of clothing that can fit into your lolita wardrobe.  We oftentimes get posts on the egl comm about "loliable finds" in regular stores.

However, in the end, we all have to buy our core lolita clothes online ^^;  Unless you happen to be a seamstress and make them yourself!  I make the vast majority of all my own lolita clothing, and may post more about that in the future!

Well, I am sure that this post is far too long already, so I will leave it here!  Just a disclaimer, all these are my own observations and experiences, and I most certainly do not mean to offend anybody ;)