By Brenda Velasquez, Asian Avenue magazine

Colorado Gothic & Lolita Society members (left to right: Teresa Carnes, Helen Shih, Mina Barr and Rae Deming) take a photo in Sakura Square.
Colorado Gothic & Lolita Society members (left to right: Teresa Carnes, Helen Shih, Mina Barr and Rae Deming) take a photo in Sakura Square.

During the Cherry Blossom Festival, a group of young women gathered nearby to participate in a popular Japanese fashion subculture called Gothic & Lolita (G&L), whose aesthetics are based on Victorian-era clothing. A standard Lolita outfit consists of a knee-length skirt/dress enhanced by petticoats and framed by puffy-shouldered blouses. Common accessories include stockings, parasols and over-sized Mary Janes, all adorned with bows, ribbons and lace.

The group, members of the Colorado G&L Society, set up shop in Sakura Square, pooling together a mixture of apparel and accessories for a swap meet. The band included 31-year old Mina Barr, manager of a retail pet food store, who attended the festival in full kimono, showing interest in traditional arts while being part of a modern Japanese fashion movement.

Meanwhile, Helen Shih, a 23-year old Taiwanese nurse from Illinois attended in full Lolita. Introduced to the extravagant fashion in high school, Shih recalls her positive beginnings.

“I always got great reactions, although my mom was a little annoyed at first, especially because it’s so costly [one brand name dress could cost up to $400].”

In fact, because of the fashion’s costly nature, swap meets are a useful method of acquiring affordable Lolita apparel.

Rae Deming, a 20-year old art student at Red Rocks Community College has practiced Lolita for seven years, also gaining exposure in high school.

“I was already into Japanese culture through anime,” she recalls, mirroring the experience of many Japanese culture-loving youths in the U.S. Deming’s family have always been supportive of their creative daughter, even helping to fund her wardrobe. She joined the Colorado G&L society a year ago attending many of the meet ups which include tea gatherings and picnics; this was their second Cherry Blossom Festival meet.