Thursday, August 07, 2008

Loligoth as an Everyday Style?

I received a comment, then an email, from Jilly Dreadful over on wordpress. It was regarding a Loligoth post I'd done earlier this year that prompted her to do her own post pondering whether loligoth could ever transcend from costume to fashion.

This, of course, reminds me that I've not written a loligoth appreciation post in some time.

Perhaps, I thought, this is because I haven't been working on TALE. Incorrect! It's arguable that FRAGMENTS has more loligoth influence than TALE. Well, more noticeable, as no one is really certain what Shiro wears. (Besides a lot of white and those goggles.) My point being that I have another two fashionable characters in FRAGMENTS who enjoy or are influenced by the loligoth or various alternative fashions. Odd considering that I dress relatively not loligoth at all.

I'll borrow a point or two from Jilly's post, as I think she touches on exactly the reason why to me loligoth isn't an everyday style. I look at the clothing and it strikes me as something to dress-up in—not as a costume, but as obviously "event" clothing. Meaning that it's more formal by its delicacy and lace and elaborate details. In everyday clothing I need functionality. I need to be able to sit in it, I need it to be comfortable, and above all I need it to compliment my body type.

See, I'm petite. If you have a look at my blogger profile picture, I believe that's one of the "children's" kimono that I'm wearing. If it isn't, I can assure you that I was definitely shown the girl-sized ones by the wonderful dressers. I tend to be mistaken, even when not in Japan, for being younger than I am. (Which I love!) So add frills and lace and innocence-accentuating clothing like the loligoth style, and the illusion of youth is compounded. Not only that, most of the truly decadent dresses have so much detail that it overwhelms the smaller form and becomes too much visual interest. After all, as a good designer knows, if it all appears to be the focus—nothing will be the focus.

Beyond that, as I said over in Jilly's comments, we in North America do not worship The Cute. We aren't a kawaii culture, we're a culture of sex appeal. We want our children to grow up fast, and then complain when they do.

I'm not going to say that loligoth can't transcend the costume element or that it won't become a mainstream style, because ten years ago I argued with people that gee, it'd be great if it happened, but manga was never going to be mainstream in the US. That little niche market sure showed me, and quite frankly I'm happy to know that I don't have to pay $25 for a book of flipped art anymore and can now get a right-to-left all English edition for about $10-15. Thus, in 10 years, who knows...we may see loligoth as being on its way to mainstream—probably because now its has the English G&L Bible to bring it into the cultural marketplace. It'll take 5–10 years, I think, for the people who "grew up" with loligoth to get into positions of producing on a mass-market level. Right now, it's still very much a cottage industry/boutique presence via the internet.

I don't think, however, either manga or loligoth will grow based on only being imitation. We will need to eventually define it within our own cultural parameters, and so far we're resisting. (See the oddly disparagingly view a lot of US readers have for OEL manga.) You have to understand, this is what Japan does so well—take something, make it Japanese, and create this discourse that the original creators then want to recontribute to.

Loligoth is a cycling of fashion's cultural references. It can only grow and sustain if we keep adding to it. Otherwise it becomes stale, and mainstream fashion has a notoriously short shelf life.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I could see Loligoth becoming fashion eventually. Maybe not next year, but eventually.