Lolita: Cosplay or Fashion?

A common misconception is how Lolita is categorized. Quite often we see people refer to the popular Japanese Fashion as Cosplay. Is it not cosplay, it is simply….Fashion. Perhaps this issue stems from the fact that Lolita is commonly seen at Anime Conventions, where thousands of cosplayers reside. But make no mistake, Lolita and Cosplay are very different. As different as our JFashion Show is from our Cosplay Contest.

This subject has become sensitive to most people in our Lolita community. For this reason we decided to share an update from our good friend Jessamyn De Vos. The original Facebook update was made in the closed group, Houston Lolita Community, but we believe it is important to educate others (also because Japanese Fashion is an integral part of our convention).


“In response to something that happened recently I have decided to approach the ‘Lolita is not a costume’ issue and try to explain it, and why it’s such a big deal, to some of you that may not completely understand.
The first reason that Lolita is not a costume is because it simply isn’t. Just like how Hottopic doesn’t sell “goth costumes” and Abercrombie doesn’t sell “prep costumes.” It’s a literal fashion. You don’t call the clothing at something like Renfest “Middle ages costumes” it’s called period clothing. That’s simply what it is.

So what is the big damn deal with calling it a costume? Why can’t you just choose to not be offended by this? To me, at least, it’s about being perceived as who I really am. When someone(seriously) calls me by a female specific slur or a gay slur simply because I’m dressed a certain way or they think I’m something based solely on my genitalia I get the same feeling as when they call my outfit a costume. I don’t get as angry or as hurt but it’s the same pit-of-the-stomach type feeling. Not because I take Lolita super seriously, because I don’t, but because I don’t like being called something I’m not based on how you’ve wrongly perceive me. That’s all. I want to be judged based on who I am. Lolita is a part of who I am just like how the rest of my clothes are. Having someone understand who you are and what you’re trying to show them is important.
I’m not wearing a costume when I’m in Lolita the same way that I’m not in drag when I wear my normal men’s clothing. It’s just not a costume.

Lolitas get sick of the constant judgement for simply doing something they enjoy. Being told that they’re wearing a costume is a part of this. Other fashion styles have had to, and still do, face the same issues.
Fashion is important to people whether it seems that way or not. It helps us define who we are and find others that have the same interests. Fashion is one of the most common forms of free speech so when you misidentify someones fashion they are likely to get upset with you.
So, yeah, this is just my point of view but here it is.” – Jessamyn De Vos