What Would I Like to See in a Lolita Magazine?

In one of my previous videos I commented on the new Lolita magazine Melt and how I felt there were some bits lacking in there, which were also lacking in Gothic and Lolita Bible before it. Although it’s unlikely that Japanese publications will pay attention to my ramblings, I’d love to share with you some of the things that I would love to see improved or see more of in Lolita magazines and e-zines.

GLB issue 43. Image from Otaku.co.uk
Let’s go through this in the order that things tend to appear in the printed magazines, which means previews first. As I said in the video, in the digital age previews of upcoming prints reach the whole world the moment they are published, from the sharing of links to social media updates to scans of printed magazines. Also, putting together a magazine preview is time consuming: it takes hours of planning and coordinating the initial photoshoot, then editing the photos, then putting together and editing the magazine itself, then the printing and distributing… By the time the magazine lands in our hands most items have either already been previewed on social media or they’ve been released altogether. Removing the whole previews sections would be impossible, so it needs modernising somehow. One way would be to preview items which are a long way away from being released or to limit the previews to more artistic photoshoots focusing on aesthetic rather than featuring the product details. Neither is an ideal solution: the former could result in things like previewing Christmas prints in March, even though brands have a release schedule they could manipulate to suit them, while the latter might not fully tick the box for Lolitas hungry for full dress shots, although Girlism is doing a decent job so far. It’s this or give more room for previews to smaller brands that may rely on magazine exposure for their sales and marketing more than bigger brands.

Image from Rufflecon.org
Then we come to the events section – and boy, could that be expanded! Yes, it’s visually appealing to focus on photographs and, you guessed it, more previews from fashion shows, but I’m more interested in what happened at the event itself. Again, by the time these things are printed, most of the event pictures have long been released and circulated the Internet at least twice – I noticed that this year’s AP tea party in Shanghai was featured in a few various magazines (Melt and Girlism for sure, I think it was in KERA as well as the AP website)! This is a great opportunity to bring the international Lolita community closer by allowing for (moderated) reader submissions, if the publication can’t afford to send a reporter, and show to readers that Lolita fashion is present and celebrated worldwide. I like to read/watch event reports that talk about what happened, especially when there was something different from the usual program, what the atmosphere was like or whether something happened that got a massive laugh/surprised gasp/compliment from the guest/anything. Just generally, give me more than three paragraphs and a bunch of photos, most of which I’ve either already seen or which are too small to pick up on the details of someone’s outfit. And don’t limit yourself to brand tea parties in Japan and Shanghai – recognise that you have a global audience and include more from other places worldwide (a nod to Melt here for having reports on both Hellocon in Helsinki and Anime Matsuri in the USA, however controversial the latter is).

Image from Matcha-jp.com
Related to this is my desire for more in depth articles and/or interviews. I get that there are only so many people to interview in such a niche fashion, so things could get repetitive very quickly, but at the same time it’s another opportunity to engage with the worldwide community and promote smaller brands within the fashion. There are designers and models alike whom we haven’t gotten to know as well as we would like to – equally, there are loads of questions they haven’t been asked yet that could be featured in such an interview. Melt included Cathy Cat’s interviews which touched a little bit on that friendly and informal note, which was refreshing. However, if a fresh interview is too much to have in every interview, then an insightful, in-depth essay would be great. If we can think of topics as bloggers, then so can the magazine editors and journalists – let them explore these topics and write about them. In this case, it doesn’t even matter how applicable these subjects would be to a non-Japanese or non-East Asian audience, because every bit of insight and every angle of looking at the fashion we love is interesting and worth familiarising yourself with, so if all they can write are issues that affect primarily East Asian Lolitas – write about that! I would really love to read things like this and I’m sure so would a lot of other people.

Image from CGL.
Then we have street snaps, which have moved towards more staged ones, as in the magazine puts out info that they’ll be shooting at this place and that time, then selects their street snaps from the ones taken there. Whilst I appreciate that it is a more efficient way of doing it and ensuring that you get the content that fits the magazine better (not every person wearing street fashion will be in Lolita, so to ‘naturally’ find enough Lolitas to fill a couple of pages of street snaps would take too long), we are losing a little bit of that authenticity as people may dress up more for such an advertised photoshoot than what they’d normally wear on a weekend. Maybe teaming up with someone who already goes out and takes street snaps could balance this out. Yes, keep the opportunity to just turn up and have your photo taken, but have something else there too. Tokyo Fashion, who regularly go out into Harajuku taking snaps of street fashion wearers, do sometimes post pictures of Lolitas on their Instagram feed and by being out on the streets regularly they are more likely to find ‘a Lolita in the wild’, so why not enter into some sort of a formal partnership where both parties could benefit?

Image from VisitLondon.com
There is also more to Lolita than just clothes, as some would argue. When you think of the things we do at meet ups, you think of trying out nice foods, especially sweets and afternoon teas, and enriching our cultural lives through visits to museums, galleries, plays etc. Even if lifestyle Lolitas are a minority in the community, they are still there and the rest of us will be happy to dabble in something more Lolita lifestyle-like every now and then. Moreover, with many Western Lolitas visiting or planning to visit Japan and Japanese Lolitas doing the same with other places (usually those highly romanticised in Japanese popular perception, like European countries), we could all benefit from some recommendations. These could be excellent guides for those about to embark on a trip somewhere, whilst the rest of us could either add these to our ‘to do when I go there’ lists or get inspiration from such articles to look for similar things locally. And again, it’s a great chance to promote smaller businesses – for example, Ladurée, with its international branches, doesn’t need further advertising or recommendations, but that’s not the only macaron place in Paris worth visiting. The authors could pick an area, from as wide as a country to as small as a district or street, and guide us through the places they think Lolitas should visit. Given than museums and galleries tend to change their exhibitions on a regular basis, the cultural recommendations is an endless source of articles, especially for quarterly publications. Adding a few reviews of books, films, plays or albums that may be of interest to Lolitas is also a never-ending source, especially given that these could be compressed to two pages maximum to keep the magazine’s focus on the fashion. I’m sure that I would’ve tried more new things and visited more interesting exhibitions had I simply known about them and a magazine is a great platform to achieve that.

GLB pattern. Image from Pinterest.
Last but not least, let’s quickly talk about the DIY section. Whilst I really enjoyed GLB including actual patterns and preserving the handmade origins of Lolita, I can see why new publications have opted to stop these. But I do enjoy the instructional sections that Lolita magazines offer, from the hair and makeup (although I feel like so far Girlism has been comparably more adventurous and challenging in the hair department) to crafting accessories and making clothes. I also like the fact that Girlism includes cooking recipes, even if some of them are quite typically Chinese and not always fitting with the kawaii or Lolita aesthetic. I would love for the DIY sections to not only stay, but be expanded where and if possible. There is room for introducing people to new techniques through instructions as well as magazine freebies – a plastic mould wouldn’t be too expensive to make and add, neither would be a small sample of materials, e.g. resin, polymer clay, glitter, felt or anything. True, as far as accessories go probably everything has a tutorial to be found somewhere, but there could still be new takes on this as well as introducing a variety of techniques and methods to achieve the same result. Keep Lolitas crafty and give us things to do, either as a hobby or to enhance our coords, and keep proving that the fashion doesn’t have to be just about materialism and shopping.

There are so many more things that could be included or improved upon, the world is your oyster, as they say. For example, I may not have been keen on the manga bits in GLB, but maybe some loved them and would like to see more comics, sort of Haenuli, So Pretty/Very Rotten style directly about Lolita or more generic and aesthetic-driven. As I said, it’s unlikely that Japanese magazines will make any changes, unless every Lolita in the world writes to them in Japanese to let them know that these are the improvements we’d like to see – and even then that’s not a guarantee. However, there are still opportunities for independent, fan-driven Lolita zines, which rely on user submissions to continue. Love Letters is the only one so far that I know of that anyone can contribute to – but maybe reading this would inspire someone somewhere to create their own, just for their local/country comm or for the speakers of their language. Whichever you do, Lolita publications don’t all have to be clones of the GLB, however much we might miss it, so be creative and let your passion for the fashion guide you.

Are there any things that you’d like to see in Lolita magazines? Do you even miss the printed magazines in the digital age of instant updates on every upcoming print? Would you contribute to independent zines or create your own and why?


  1. I'll be honest - I would 100% buy a lolita magazine if it had all these things you talk about! I'm not a big magazine person but yeah, I'd read the hell out of this kind of in-depth lolita magazine!

    1. In all fairness, I'm not entirely sure why I buy the magazines. They have a very similar problem to women's magazines everywhere: too many ads and pictures and not enough content to actually read. There are nice bits, like the hair and makeup tutorials (though the makeup is intended for East Asian people, so I'm not sure how it'd look on caucasian features) or seeing previews from brands I don't normally follow, but for the most part it's a lot of pictures most of which I've already seen somewhere. I started buying GLBs and KERA because I wanted to keep my Japanese language skills up, but I don't feel like I was getting much of that. As a publication that has things to read, Love Letter is much better, even in its current budding form.


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