Friday 25 August 2023

Gothic Lolita Fashion Research

 In this post, I will discuss the increasingly popular trend of Lolita gothic style clothing.  This style of clothing emerged out of Japan in the 1990s 'as a radical form of street style born out of the Japanese taste for Hello Kitty cuteness.' (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2023).  The clothing encapsulates Lolita in its original form from the Book 'Lolita' by Nabakov, with style for women made for the young girl turning into a woman.  In Nabokov's Lolita, she is described as a 'nymphet' and she embodies a time in a girl/woman's life where in the book the main protagonist Humbert Humbert considers to be perfect but fleeting and sad. 'Although the term 'Lolita' has sexual connotations in Western culture due to the book of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov, in Japanese culture it refers to cuteness, elegance and modesty.'(Victoria and Albert Museum, 2023)

The dress shown in the video below is a flared pinafore patterned dress with lace detail that is just over the knee.  The model wears black stockings and Mary Jane shoes.  The long sleeves are embellished with lace and bows and the lacy bonnet headwear completes the cutesy style that is Lolita. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum state that Lolita style can be 'sweet, punk, gothic or any other of the many sub-categories of Lolita that exist, the style is characterised by outfits with a profusion of lacy frills and ruffles worn with demure accessories such as headpieces, gloves and parasols.' (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2023) this style is not considered cosplay, the devotees of this style consider it a lifestyle choice. Market research into sales of Lolita clothing has shown that this clothing does make millions globally and is set to rise over the next seven years (MarketWatch, 2023).

As I am using this style in my own designs I would like to move away from some quite traditional elements here by making the dress a little more distressed and casual but using perhaps corsetry techniques in the bodice to exemplify the figure.  I have added a few (very initial!) sketches below to exemplify a few very initial ideas thinking about the corsetry bodice and then I will begin to consider the materials.  I would use pure cotton and French lace for the corset and perhaps linen for the dress/skirt with panels of satin and perhaps chiffon. 

If I wanted to keep to the gothic Lolita style, Rebels Market states that; 'Most Lolita dresses will be bell-shaped; gothic Lolitas are no exception to this as they do draw heavily from Victorian and Edwardian era clothing. You will typically want to wear a petticoat or pannier used to fill out the skirt of your lolita dress or skirt.' (Morte, 2023) Considering this I will need to look more closely at Victorian and Edwardian design to determine how I could design my own dresses

The link between the Lolita style and this dress can be clearly seen with the flared skirt which would be held in place by a pannier or petticoat.  The panelling of the dress which has been embellished with lace frills and the corestry bodice and ribbon exemplify the origins of the Lolita dress.  

The Mary Jane Shoes that go with the Lolita look are also a trend this year and screenshot Media state that; '2023 will usher in a resurgence of the stylish school shoe, the patent pumps which typically feature a bold exaggerated heel and dainty strap'(Pearce, 2023)

Some of my own favourite Mary Janes can be found at Dolls Kill and the Flirting with Danger platform here also would fit in perfectly with the design ideas I have for this gothic Lolita collection with its lace frilled platform heel, the oversized curved outer sole leading to a thin counter and a vamp that is also embellished with black lace. The Evil Attraction which uses patent fake leather and a thin ankle strap could also work very well within my own designs.

This is just the beginning of my exploration into the Lolita gothic style and I will be looking far more closely at the dress patterns, sustainability, and materials and further researching design ideas.


Colville, C. (2023). The 10 Biggest Fashion Trends for 2023. [online] Country and Town House. Available at: [Accessed 25 Aug. 2023].

Goodreads. (2023). Goodreads. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Aug. 2023].

MarketWatch. (2023). 2023-2030 | Lolita Clothing Market Research. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Aug. 2023]. (n.d.). Gothic Lolita | Metamorphose. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Aug. 2023].

Morte, B. (2023). Ultimate Guide On How to Be A Gothic Lolita. [online] RebelsMarket. Available at:

Nast, C. (2022). Resort 2023 Trend: Goth. [online] Vogue. Available at: [Accessed 25 Aug. 2023].

Pearce, D. (2023). Mary Janes, sheer realness and gothic hues: 7 of gen Z’... [online] SCREENSHOT Media. Available at: [Accessed 25 Aug. 2023].

Victoria and Albert Museum. (2023). V&A · Lolita fashion: Japanese street style. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Aug. 2023].