Sunday, April 19, 2015

Reader Request - Black x White Coords And Ita Branding

Innocent World - Gothic Lolita Punk & Brand Book 2005
This week I'm introducing a new weekly segment, Reader Request, which will focus on questions, topics, or ideas submitted by this blog's lovely readers. Today's topic comes in from a good friend and ex-cosplay teammate who asked why black and white lolita coords, or more specifically the typical black dress with white lace coords are so often characterized as ita? Back when lolita was first starting out, many of the various brands released pieces which fit into this black x white aesthetic, and yet many girls shy away from their own fashion heritage due to the stigma that has been so often attached to these coords. 

When lolita began gaining traction abroad and the community was spreading like wildfire aided by social websites like Livejournal and later platforms such as Facebook, various companies sought to cash in on the hit new trend. Many stores that already started carrying manga or even cosplay costumes shifted their gaze to lolita fashion, and unfortunately the black x white particular color palette was iconic. Lolita fashion was reduced to a single shade of black with white trim and an entire style boiled down to the same dress which was picked apart and remade with cheap lace and shiny costume satin. Suddenly "gothic lolita" was being marketed to the teenage masses in the form of a shiny, short-skirted bastardization of the original fashion and was readily available for less than $50 a set. Gothic lolita characters cropped up in various forms of media as well, and shows like Pokemon were quick to add in their own characters wearing the iconic style.

Marley / Mai from Pokemon Diamond & Pearl - her outfits clearly draw from what quickly became known as the iconic lolita style
Unfortunately for the community, many newer (and oftentimes younger) lolitas had the opportunity to buy these dresses that were being marketed as "lolita" without having to do any kind of research. Lolita had made it to our home soil, but not in the way that so many lolitas had dreamed of. As the community continued to grow, many local communities were inundated with newer lolitas who had bought cheap dresses off of sites like Milanoo or had stumbled across them at costume stores without really knowing the difference between a high quality dress and a low quality costume. For many of the older lolitas in the community, this was also the point wherein many of these newer lolitas were labeled as itas and the constant association of black x white lacemonsters with ita-ism turned many girls away from some of their favorite dresses. The biggest loss was surely felt by those who had fallen in love with the old school aesthetic of black x white dresses, but who no longer felt comfortable wearing them for fear of being labeled an ita. 

A secret from January 2012 reiterating the stigma attached to this aesthetic
What had at first been iconic and charming quickly morphed into a mark of inexperience and poor taste. Even worse was the fact that so many newer lolitas learned this disdain for old school black x white coords from their older, jaded predecessors. Soon even newer lolitas were quick to label any dress similar to that iconic image of the simplistic black dress full of gorgeous white lace details as cheap, ugly, and completely ita in design. These newer lolitas had been conditioned to associate an entire design aesthetic with the lowest form of the fashion despite the fact that this same style was so pivotal to the fashion's success. Over the years more and more lolitas have joined and left the fashion and yet the prejudice against black x white coordinates still remains as a relic of the dark ages of mass-media-produced costumes. 

With the current climate in lolita and the celebratory approach to old school designs that we are seeing from brands like Baby the Stars Shine Bright, I see the potential for a revival of the iconic coordinate. We can only erase this stigma through education and by emphasizing that above all else it is the silhouette, quality, and details which make a lolita dress of worth. Black x white old school dresses are not the antithesis of modern lolita, rather they are its heritage and should be appropriately appreciated and celebrated for spreading this amazing fashion well beyond the borders of Japan. 

If you find yourself relishing the old school aesthetic, I suggest checking out Marionette Cemetery - she has some really great information for all you old school lovers and has tons of photos from the older publications as well.

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,
Burgher

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