Gothic Lolita OMG

Never before has the phrase WTF! popped to mind so readily as yesterday. I was in town with H, as I couldn’t be arsed making lunch again, and took us both instead to Max, Sweden’s premier burger joint (really, it’s very, very good). And on the way through town I started to notice something odd: the Gothic Lolita chicks. It was like a convention had come to town – they were fucking everywhere!

Gothic Lolita, for those of you who are just totally out of the loop, is a sort of prettified Goth, with wings and frilly bits and, for some reason, babies pacifiers which you suck on. It’s all twee and fine in a sort of “those wacky Japanese” sort of way, but when the Swedish fourteen-year-olds start taking it seriously and swanning about town like Emo kiddies with wings and lollipops, then it starts to enter the realms of just-very-fucking-odd-indeed.

This all started, as far as I can make out, a few weeks ago, when there was a major newspaper article about the phenomenon coinciding with the release of a new photo book called “Gothic and Lolita” containing photographs from the streets of Tokyo. And now suddenly the Lolitas have appeared, like frilly pink mushrooms sprouting from the tarmac.

Now I am all in favour of the kids trying to piss off their parents by acting weird, and alternative lifestyles have always appealed to me, so no problems there. But come on, how much creativity does it take to get your “alternative lifestyle” right out of a box? One day you are a Goth, or a hairy rocker, or a regular prissy teen, and the next you are hanging out in toy shops taking pictures of yourself surrounded by teddy bears with a look of coy anguish. Just how does THAT work?

It is actually a problem in Sweden, this sharp division of styles. Swedish people are very, very similar in what they wear. The average teenager looks pretty much identical to the next average teenager. Oh, they can go in for some “alternative” look, but then they just end up looking exactly like a few thousand other people instead. Actual individual style is very much frowned upon over here – most people just don’t like to stand out in the “wrong” way.

And something that makes this even worse is the complete lack of self-distance. The Swedes take their own particular style or social grouping very seriously, no matter how ridiculous it looks, and the person who can laugh at their own “style” is rare indeed. In fact it is extremely easy to spot young tourists in Stockholm, even without hearing them speak. They are the ones who look comfortable with themselves, have a style of their own, even if it’s a bit odd, and do not readily fit in with any particular “look”. I’m sure the Swedes hate them.

But don’t worry, once H&M takes over the rest if the world, you’re all going to look like us too, whether you like it or not. Heh heh heh…

/ paddy

64 thoughts on “Gothic Lolita OMG

  1. Oh my god, do people really dress like that! By the way, you left a comment about sell by dates on my blog and then apologised for leaving it twice. Hey, who gives a rat’s ass? Duplicated comments are far preferable to none!

  2. Based on the photos on your links, the style seems a bit more: 1) Gothic Bo-Peep; or 2) Bo-Peep lolita, at least to me. I’ll never understand the frill thing in any of its manifestations. Glad W-press decided to highlight your post.

  3. Some, if not most teens around the world, just need to feel like they have a place to belong.

    And some just are as easily impressionable as they come. Seriously. I bet the majority of those who mock the EGL lifestyle have no idea the motivation behind the phenomenon in Japan. They [the posers] just want to be different in the only way they know how: by being an attention whore.

    I can say this because I appreciate EGL, am fond of the style, and would try it out for kicks if I could find something halfway decent-looking on me. I can also say this because I don’t need my identity defined by [insert niche style]. But then again, as a U.S. resident (since that’s about all I am to the country), I’m glad I could gain a bit of perspective on the mindset of Swedish teen culture as it applies to a culture that I have lived in and identified with as an individual.

  4. It’s odd but I just know that at 15 I would have loved it! All those frills, the ringlets, the dummy sucking. I would have been right in there.

    Yes, and thanks to H&M all German children look Swedish. Soon all adults will too. It’s a stealth revolution.

  5. Christ. And I thought hipsters with their ironic t-shirts were bad. It’s like Little Bo Peep chic. LOL!

  6. Holy crap!!! Quoted by PZ Meyers and WordPress growing blog number 1 in the last 7 hours! 1500 hundred hits since I went to bed…I think I need a Lynchburg Lemonade…But wait, first replies!

    Kit: Great, I’ll drop by and leave the same comment again in the future..!

    houseofyes: Thanks for showing up.

    storymode: But I’m not mocking it! OK, just a little…but I do appreciate “alternative” styles–I’m just a bit concerned by its lightning-fast adoption in Sweden. Personally, I think it’s cute (except for the pacifiers).

    charlotte: I know, and at 15 I would have been salivating over all those frilly babes. H&M is the next…IKEA?

  7. I’ve seen plenty of teenage goths here in Stockholm (there was a load of them down at Sergelstorg on Saturday) and I’ve even seen a Japanese girl at Stockholm University sporting the Lolita look (the black and white, style outfit) but haven seen the Lolita-Goth combination yet.

  8. Bleh…I hope those people are joking when they dress like that…I suppose if they don’t need to work or anything it’s fine, but try getting a job dressed like a little bo peep…

    This style is almost as stupid as people getting tattoos on their necks…

  9. Steve: Unless you’re going to a interview for a Little Bo Peep position. And sure the style is stupid, but then again most things are stupid. Like sport, for example…

  10. MartinC: Try walking up and down Drottninggatan a few times on a sunny Saturday, and you’ll see a few of them, guaranteed…

  11. Really, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from doing LolGoths, it’s that there just isn’t any way to successfully make fun of Goths; they have zero sensa huma. They. Just. Do. Not. Get. It.

    The Gothic Lolita thing looks ready-made for fun-poking, but they really don’t understand why you don’t think they’re unique and artistic…in exactly the same way their 890 friends on is unique and artistic.

    And I say that as a recovering Goth.

  12. From what I can understand of the Japanese situation the Loli ‘look’ is an attempt to emulate the appearance of an old fashioned china doll. The Japanese accept this fashion only with a certain physical type – girls who are very pretty and young looking (as apposed to simply being young). Those who are outside this category – not so pretty or looking older than twenty years of age, are ridiculed.

  13. raincoaster: Do you go to Gothic Anonymous, and what exactly is their recovery plan? Maybe you start with some Ricky Martin and then take it from there..?

    MartinC: I just love the Japanese – they have rules even for something that is supposed to be “rebellious”.

  14. paddyK, no. Us Goths do everything the hard way, for the suffering points. I went cold turkey and right now I’m using a magnifying glass to melt down my Nine Inch Nails CDs, but of course the sky is always cloudy and it’s taking FOREVER!

  15. raincoaster: Your site is nice, and for the Theda Bara photo, as well as the link to Beautiful Agony, how can I _not_ add you to my blogroll..?

  16. goodland: You are a piece of human faeces. I mean – come on – can’t even the spam robots spell properly these days..? Go on now, fuck off.

  17. Huh? Naturally, being a Dane I’ve always thought Swedes to be kinda weird, but this definitely takes the price as weirdest thing I’ve seen in a while!

    Right, just kidding about the Swede thing, but the goth lolita stuff is weird.. In a pseudo-creepy kinda way! Good, entertaining read! :)

  18. The frill overload is giving me an aneurysm…

    Very interesting post. : ) Glad you’re not one of those pricks who start off by flaming the hell out of people (eg: “zomg they are for the suxxorz lolol”) for their bizarre fashion sense.

    There’s a theory that the whole Gothic Lolita concept was a sort of revolution against the Kogal one (which makes Gothic Lolita seem about as normal as a plate of bangers and mash). Kogals were trying to rebel against the traditional Japanese idea of beauty; goth lolitas were trying to rebel against the kogal idea of beauty.. etc. Some people have too much time on their hands. : P

  19. Do they buy these frilly outfits in stores or do they have to make them? Is there an industry out there that caters to these people? I think they look like they are wearing Loretta Lynn’s hand me downs. Very strange

    Where can I buy some? :)

  20. Ok so old punker that I am – I am guilty of rocking out the frill with a little latex. FOR THE CLUB.
    Sashing street side as a twixed emo psuedo fairy double dipping deviant – odd.

    Southern Fried – there are tons of fetish – costume – hardwire clothes to punk your frill. Depends on where you live and where your looking.


  21. and the sad part is, there are so many different types of the ‘lolita’ fashion…..individuality is all great and fine…but, some individuality should not be for public display.

  22. goth lolita rox!! must be the influence of animes!! XD

    i have no idea if Swedishs look great in them, but japanese are HOT when they wear it!

  23. Alright, that’s it, I’m moving to Sweden…anyone willing to take me in until I get off my feet and score a few of these Gothic Lolita Swedes?

  24. I love that clothes !! Well, here in Denmark, it is fifties style that rocks right now .. That’s brilliant too, I mean, I have a friend who looks like Elizabeth Taylor everyday ..

    And of course the emo style .. That sucks .. But only because the only ones in Denmatk who does it, are 13-year old kids, who buys their clothes in H&M, and then paint on it and makes it look like they’ve found it in a trashcan .. Yiew ..

  25. This could be the next tourist attraction. *grins* I think its pretty neat…. adds more color to our bleak world. Sorta reminds me of a weird jp rpg game.

  26. I really can’t criticize, considering how I dressed as a teen (during the late 70s punk age) Back then, goth and punk overlapped considerably. In a later decade, my daughter wore fairy wings and glitter wigs, but never went in for the frilly clothing stuff much.

    And pacifiers? Are they back?

  27. Wow, it’s getting hard to keep up with all these comments…I answered the first 20 or so, but now I’m just running out of steam.

    So thanks everyone for taking the time to comment, and forgive the lack of personal attention – going from 60 hits a day to 3000 can throw off the planning a little…

    And all you newcomers – come back again!

  28. […] _Paddy K_ has a very interesting post about a new style in Sweden called Gothic Lolita, I wonder how long it will take to reach kuwait. I think its neat, should add some color to our bleak world. Can you imagine running into Marina Mall and seeing this phenomenon? Heh I wonder how the 3agad would respond to this. […]

  29. Equal parts charming, fetishistic and creepy; there’s no wondering how this originated in Japan and has been popularized in Sweden. I expect France and Oz to follow suit sooner or later.

  30. Oh those crazy kids! Good for them…as long as it doesn’t involve booze, drugs and violence. Although there seems to be a sexual fetish undercurrent.

    Enjoy it while you can because someday you’ll wake up and realize you have turned into your parents!

  31. I already go to H&M XD I love their jackets, and their vest tops. And expecially their hello kitty tops. So I probably look like swedish teens anyway ;)

  32. We thought H&M had already taken over the World? Certainly seems to own as much of Europe as Ikea.

    Still, interesting post, and love the pictures. I think we at The Quest will be keeping an eye on this trend.

    We like it.

  33. The Japanese are great aren’t they. Could you maybe write an article about that whole tentacle and schoolgirl thing though, I really don’t get that.

  34. Fads are fun, sometimes really make a political or religious statement, and then again some are just plain stupid. I think this one has a BIG chance of catching on here in the US. Mainly due to the fact there are so many horny, old, perverts who just looooove playing with little girls wearing those frilly dresses and bobby sox! LMAO!

  35. At least it would make me smile to see people dressed like that in the street. A little bit of happiness, in a grey world.

    But the funny thing is that the Japanese girls copied old European fashion.

    Swedish and European girl should wear kimono!!!!!!!!!

    I watched a documentary about this phenomenon in France, a girl’s dream was to live in Japan, because living in Japan is so great, OMG Japanese girl are so “Cute”, she was learning Japanese and her plan was to buy a one way ticket to Japan… Sayonara!!!

    On the other hand Japanese girl dream about living in Paris, because it’s so “Romantic”.

    It’s good to dream…..

  36. And all this time I had the impression from the Sartorialist that there was (rather clean-looking and spritely, I admit) quirky and individualistic style traipsing ’round Sweden.

    Or maybe I’m just reading too much into a few pictures of pretty people in Stockholm!

  37. raincoaster: Being non-American, I have no idea who JonBenet Ramsay is.

    Laura: Nope, “individualistic” cannot in any way be applied to the fashion sense over here. Those are cute pics, but just look at their faces and see how seriously they are taking themselves.

    mondaymuse: I hope it doesn’t become a sexual fad. But then again most things do in the end.

    liamisbig: OK, I seem to have missed that whole “”tentacle and schoolgirl” scene. Just what is that about?

  38. Hello PaddyK.
    I am based in Japan and have taken a few pictures of the Harajuku cos-play scene for my job as a photographer. Does anyone remember Gwen Stefani excerable song on the subject? The goth Lolita thing is perhaps the largest part of the Harajuku scene and it is quite interesting to hear it is taking off in Sweden. We often have American and German cos-play tourists coming here to pose on the bridge for the photographers that go there to take pictures of them. It is quite a tourist attraction and could become so in Sweden.
    There are no rules that I know of on the acceptablity of the follower of this particular fashion. I wish there were as some of the little girl lolitas are way to big and old to be wearing that get up and it is just so wrong, so very very wrong.
    The little girl innocence thing is well known here as a popular (almost accepted) deviantion from the norm but though some of the photographers in Harajuku can feel scarily preditory the thing is surprisingly asexual. The girls are young and most do not feel exploited by or that they are exploiting the men, they just like dressing up.
    Even the older girls and some boys that do this just seem unable to grow up that much and any baser reasoning is not noticed. Blissfully unaware is the perfect phrase when they pull a “sexy pose” it is just that the concept of it actually arousing some of the men seems to belong to another scary place in Tokyo called Akihabara.
    Interesting post by the way that hopefully will give me some ideas for work when I get back to Europe. By the way can you check my blog and the Gothic Lolita post (I too got a lot of Lolita search referals – there are a lot of perverts out there) to see if that picture was the one in the newspaper spread. I can`t find out who my agency sold it to but it was based in Europe and I would like to add any sales to my resume to get more work. Thanks mate.

  39. Thanks for that information. However I couldn’t find the Gothic Lolita post on your blog. But you can check the newspaper article via the link on my blog. And you have a nice site!

  40. OMG Im a str8 male but would love to dress up like that for a day. Like Halloween but the day before and tell everyone wow Im so embarassed I thought it was today Wow that would be fun lol

  41. I hope this NEVER catches on in the us.We just opened a store here,(Cali,were else?bleh)though i’ve NEVER seen it here.I hope it stays that way.We stay children as children,(if we grew up before our age,that’s was our faults as preteens or teens)I see no need for 15-20 yr olds dressing as little girls.oh,and Ron.Are u sure your straight?Lol

  42. In the D, City Club Goths Sat night dress in all kinds of kinky items.
    They even bring in HulaHoops. Leather short shorts sucking on a pacifier and fanning themselves with an asian hand fan. What appears to be a miss, is many of them are texting in the dark on the dance floor.

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