For the Love of Kawaii (Lolita and Gyaru Fashion with Sunny)
What is Lolita?
For those who are exposed to the world of anime, they would probably connect it to popular characters like: Misa Amane (Death Note), Maria Ushiromiya (Umineko Naku Koro ni), Stocking (Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt ), Anna Kushina (K Anime) and Chii from (Chobits). While those who are more familiar with literature would connect it to Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Lolita.
However, unlike the infamous work of fiction there is nothing sexual about Japan’s Lolita fashion. It’s charm comes from ‘kawaii’ (かわいいcuteness or loveliness) and elegance rather than the sexy. It is based on the Victorian Fashion. The goal is to achieve a porcelain doll look and it has many and sometimes quirky variations, such as, Shiro (White) Lolita Fashion, Kuro (Black) Lolita Fashion, Gothic Lolita Fashion, Hime (Princess)Lolita Fashion and many more.
And what is Gyaru?
Those who have watched Super Gals in their youth would probably know what it is. Gyaru (ギャル, Gal) is a type of Japanese Street Fashion. There are different types of Gyaru such as, Gyaru-kei, Hime Gyaru, Ganguro and etc. It is identified by the bleached or dyed hair and especially heavy eye make up. One important element of Gyaru eye make up is making the eyes appear bigger.
Sunny is a pretty African-American girl from the United States. She is a Cosplayer, Gyaru and Lolita. Being so far away from Japan, you’d probably think it would be difficult to be more than an admirer for it. But no, she is proudly wears Japanese fashion like Lolita and Gyaru despite how strangely it seems to be to other people. She would still proudly walk around in it on a casual day.
Anime Asgard: How did you discover the Lolita/Kawaii fashion?
Sunny: I had a friend who used to be into it, so she used to have all these magazines with different pictures so she could show us. For a lot of it though, I just started looking it up on my own because I thought it was cute. That’s also how I discovered Gyaru on the side. Gyaru seemed 10x easier to do than Lolita and 500x cheaper ’cause with Lolita every piece for an outfit costs about $50.
A: Oh my goodness! Really?!
S: I dropped $250 on a dress. It’s really cute though, I’ll show you …
A: It is so pretty!
S: It is my most favorite thing ever!
A: But it is so expensive! How can you afford these?
S: Yeah, but the thing about the Lolita Community is that they buy and sell like crazy! You can buy an outfit and If it doesn’t fit, you can buy another one and sell that one. Or you can do a swap and change your outfit with someone else’s. You can wear it once and decide, “I don’t feel like wearing this anymore. I guess I’ll sell it.” It just goes on and on and it just gets crazy. And then sometimes you scroll down the community and you think, “Oh! That’s cute! —That’s cute too! — That’s cute! How much money do I have? Do I have to pay bills?” Before you know it, you spend $700 on stuff.
A: There are actually people who go into the Lolita style because of their favorite characters. What do you think?
S: Yeah, Lolita is more like an art (type) of fashion rather than costume play (cosplay). I do cosplay, but this is more like the every day fashion which is where I would put Lolita and Gyaru.
A: When did you start and how long has it been?
S: With Gyaru, I started more or less two years ago …
A: What do you love about this style or this trend? And why do you think you are so attracted to it?
S: With Lolita, I really love pretty, puffy things and the little skirts and petticoats were really fun! With Gyaru, I didn’t know I would like make up as much as I did until I started playing with it. I think I just love just getting to have big eyes because my eyes are normally small but then I get to do stuff like that.
A: Name three of your top inspirations.
S: I only have one major one. Her name is Kanako Kawabata. She is one of the EGG Models. EGG is basically Japan’s #1 Gyaru Magazine and she (Kanako) is one of their oldest and most well-known models. She is really, really pretty and her hair is always short and I could always pick up a few fashion tip from her since my hair is short.
And then, I have my own personal favorite. Her name is Lovelyify (AKA Crystal). She is actually local to me, but I have never met her in person … yet. She isn’t too too known but she is kind of known amongst the Gyaru community as one of the top Black Gyaru. The thing with the Gyaru community right now is that ‘race’ is super important. With her, she is like, “I like wearing this so leave me alone”
There is also a third one that I should show you. Tsubasa Masuwaka. She is probably the #1 picture perfect Gyaru of Gyarus. She is the main model for ‘Dolly Wink.’
A: What is your favorite type of Kawaii fashion? And there are a lot like, Lolita, Visual Kei, Fairy Kei and of course Gyaru.
S: Actually, I think there is a 50/50 tie between Gyaru and Lolita. Gyaru is practical … mostly. Sometimes. But Lolita is just so cute! You get to look like a doll all day and wear giant bows pretty hair. I am wearing my hairstyle from my Garden Meet. I had a Garden Meet this morning and I decided to keep my hair as it was to show you.
A: How does your family take this lifestyle? Do they approve?
S: The only family I really talk to is my mom. She is mostly on the fence with Gyaru because it seems like nice fashion to her, so she is okay with it. Though she doesn’t understand the contacts and every time I wear them she freaks out worrying if my eyes would fall out. With Lolita, she just thinks it is all strange. When I got my dress, I showed it to her and she said that I wasn’t supposed to wear a shirt under it and that I didn’t need a petticoat. But the fundamental rule of Lolita: #1 is you can barely find an outfit that can go without a blouse and this is one of those which did. #2 You never forget your petticoat.
A: Where do you buy your clothes from? Do you make them yourself?
S: The skirt is from Bodyline, a discount Lolita shop. They have the same or similar prints with different outfits. My skirt also comes in a jumper dress and my friend has the same jumper dress in the same color. Ordering there is fairly cheap especially when you have enough people to buy different pieces together into one group order and you get free express shipping, so you can get your orders in a week.
I haven’t made anything Lolita-wise by myself, but I have been planning on it. I found a cupcake fabric that I plan into making something. I don’t know what yet. There is another brand that I really want something from but it is so expensive for everything. It is called, Angelic Pretty. The stars shine so bright! If I had a thousand dollars, I’d buy the entire store.
A: What is your favorite brand?
S: Angelic Pretty! I wish they were cheaper!
A: How many outfits do you currently have?
S: Lolita-wise? Around … five? Gyaru is just my everyday style. So probably most of my wardrobe is Gyaru.
A: How long does it take you to get ready when you go out Kawaii-ed up?
S: Casual Gyaru can take only 10-15 minutes. However, getting all dolled up can also take up to an hour and a half. It really depends. With Gyaru, it can take longer because of all the make up. There is a lot contouring. Aside from the foundation, you have to contour the bridge of your nose. I darkened my nose and made a vertical white strip there. Then, there is the extra blush and I even use strips of dark powder here to give extra contouring. There is also the contacts, the eyeliner, eye shadow and the lashes. It is genuine Panda make up!
A: What kind of reaction do you usually get when you wear it on a normal day?
S: With Gyaru, I don’t really get much reaction. I get a lot of compliments on my clothes, because most people probably just thinks I’m just being super fashionable. Though sometimes, when some people look close enough they go, “Wow! Are you wearing contacts?” I reply with yes. They don’t really comment more after that.
Lolita is more noticeable though. People go, “That’s really puffy!” We got stopped a lot today for pictures. You’d have five Lolitas walking around and people say, “Oh! That is kind of weird! But kind of cute! Girls are walking around in fluffy skirts.”
A: What is your favorite piece in your collection?
S: The Little Prince Dress. It’s the #1 favorite thing I have ever owned and also the second most expensive next to my prom dress.
A: For other girls interested in trying this trend, what are your tips?
S: Just don’t be afraid to mess up. Don’t let people get you down. If you’re going to put yourself out there, people are always going to find some reason to criticize you. Basically, take what you can from the criticism and learn from it but don’t get too discouraged from it. And if you’re going to do it, don’t do it for other people. Improve at your own pace once you go for it. Also, don’t let others decide to quit or not and it will be very likely you’ll quit because you’re not really doing it for yourself.
As for me? I like the way I look. If you don’t, peace!
A: How do you deal with people who think this is immature?
S: Well, they can deal with it themselves. If they think it is immature, too bad for them because they are not the ones wearing it.
That is how you deal with fashion in general. If you feel comfortable in it and you like it, wear it because you want to wear it.
A: Complete this sentence. My outfit is never complete without —?
S: — eyeliner. Eyeliner is awesome.
A: I can’t live without my —?
S: I honestly can’t live without cupcakes. Cupcakes and me are like an OTP (One True Pairing). Without cupcakes, there is no Sunny. Clothing-wise, I don’t know. I like a lot of things, but I can actually do without clothes just give me cupcakes.
I can wear sandals, ripped up shorts and a baggy t-shirt and I will be okay with my life. If there are no cupcakes in the world, I will cry.
A: Do you ever see yourself ever stop loving it?
S: Maybe not. Because I always loved dress up as a kid. I am thinking — I might one day grow out of Lolita mostly. I don’t know until how old I can continue wearing all these cute things. They are cute and fun, but I have a feeling when I hit 30, I am not going to want to wear them as much but I might just change it up.
With Gyaru, it is practical to change up the style like to: Oneegyaru style (means, “Older sister gyaru”). It is the more mature look. That fits a little better for older people.
… There is a saying that goes, “You can’t please everyone.” Sunny understands this and lives by putting emphasis on making herself happy. Whether it is cosplay, gyaru or Lolita, it doesn’t matter who is watching or what other people think. She loves the way she looks and for her, the most important thing in fashion is feeling good in your own skin.
See you on the next ‘For the Love of Kawaii’ as I interview another lover of all things Kawaii.