I’ll be honest that my up-keep with this blog has been next to nothing in the past months. Life gets pretty busy when you have a lot of your plate as I do – yet there are some things that require you to push those demands to the side for a second and say “I need to talk about this.” And that thing my friends is connected to that title above. So yes, if you are an Alternative Fashion fan who hasn’t heard the news, you should brace yourself.
It has been announced that KERA Magazine last printed issue will be in April, while Gothic and Lolita Bible will be no more. After that, KERA will become a digital only publication, while GLB will remain but a faded memory. And, if this is a lot for you all to mentally process, trust me that you aren’t alone. But for the few (or more than) of you that have no clue what these magazines are or now “were”, let me show you a seat on my very on time machine. We’re about to get emotional here.
See, back in 2004, I was but a little teenage Japanese Pop Culture loving nerd, who preferred fishnets and Tripp pants to Abercrombie purchased uniforms. The majority of my free time was spent going through the “internets” – seeing what the new cool anime series was, and what sort of Mall Goth attire was trending in my raccoon eyed social circle. One of those friends would later point me in the direction of Japanese Rock music, and introduce me to a band that changed it all for me – Malice Mizer.
You see kids, back in those dark days, us now older Lolita Fashion wearers didn’t have that many icons to look up to. There were the images that filmmakers like Tim Burton produced or the admiration of our patron-saint Alice, but there weren’t too many real-life icons to be had. That is until we all at some point discovered Mana. He (yes, he) was the lead guitarist from Malice Mizer and wore what would later be described as Lolita. And I can easily he was the “gateway drug” to my love of Alternative Fashion. And he also happened to be the person behind the Gothic & Lolita Bible.
This publication, along with KERA and the also recently cancelled FRUITs Magazine, were for many their introduction and “bible” into the world of many Japanese Street Styles, including Lolita Fashion, Visual Kei, and many other forms of outfits (or coordinates) that were outside the norm from what most people thought of as stylish. The people that came from these magazines became our idols, our heroes – they made us Alternative Fashion kids fearless and confident.
But then something happened to the world, and that was social media. Places like Tumblr, Instagram and other Apps gave us very much the same excitement and inspiration as KERA and GLB. The iconic faces that had graced cover after cover now do the same with their selfies and blog posts. Models that worked to the bone to get noticed by a brands are now instantly stars because of their own personal profiles. These changes, along with the rest of the destruction of the printed media industry, formed a curse upon publications like these iconic subculture kinds that we’re saying goodbye to. So what does it mean for Japanese Street Fashion?
To be honest, the answer is a complicated one. First starts, many people have been whispering the “death of Harajuku” in general – especially with the downfall of companies like h.Naoto and other similar brands falling to the waste side, the future doesn’t seem too bright. Brands such as Angelic Pretty and Baby The Stars Shine Bright are holding out, but the market isn’t the same as it used to be. And smaller non-Lolita companies are starting to feel a bit of the pressure, and are making most of their money from online profit. But is KERA and GLB’s the true end? No.
Cathy Cat (a famous YouTuber) discussed, with all the tears, her disappointment in the news and her fears coming from the announcement. But within the waterworks coming from her eyes, she said something that I think is really important: These styles can only thrive with the power of the community at large. Sure, things might not be going as well in the great Nippon, but that doesn’t mean that us International Lolita Fashion and other J-Fashion lovers can’t continue the love for this subculture. And with all of the websites, blogs, indie brands, and other forms of representation, this world of frills, glitter, and individuality isn’t over yet.
What the English Gothic and Lolita Bible Looked Like
I won’t sugarcoat it that the next few years might become a bit bumpy, but fashion (much like any thing in this world) is all part of a cycle like phase. And if Boy Bands can come back into the popular culture like they did from the 90’s, J-Fashion will have its day in the sun again. It might not be here right now, and in 5 or so years from now it might not look exactly the same, but the unique creativity we know and love is only fueled by those that wear it – so if we (the community) keep that up, I don’t see it dying anytime soon.
Personally, even if there is a time where I wear less things from Japan and more from elsewhere, I always want J-Fashion to be in my life. Alternative forms of style are a beautiful, under-appreciated thing in our world since the beginning, and magazines like KERA and GLB helped pave the way for some of us misfits getting more wide stream acclaim (at least on the streets of Tokyo and Kinokuniya international bookstores.) We deserve some sort of mass representation, and much like it did for me, I hope that things like Instagram and Tumblr can inspire young people to dress like they want to and be themselves. Because if KERA or GLB didn’t exist, I’m sure this article wouldn’t either.
So what do you think of this news? Are you still seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, or feeling the pressure that Japanese Street Fashion scene will be over and done with? What are you thinking the future will look like? Comment below and let me know your feelings.