Monday, November 8, 2010

Ethics and a lolita challenge

It occurred to me last night how being into lolita feels a bit uncomfortable for me. I've always been a person who deeply loves the world we live in - its people, plants, animals and environments, and I can't help but feel that my lolita habit is having a less-than-desirable effect on these things. The clothes - synthetic fibres (plastics) which don't break down, shipped all over the world and wasting fossil fuels, plastic bags, and worst of all, materials sewn in cramped factories where the workers are paid so little they can basically never afford to buy new clothes. Does this feel cruel to anyone else? Here I am in my $300 dress, not to mention petticoat, bag, shoes, blouse, feeling like a princess... while some poor woman tears up her hands and injures her back and doesn't get the rest or even the food she needs to make me these clothes. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Here's one of the few videos I could find which shows how things are in clothing factories and cotton picking fields (yes, people still pick cotton!). Skip to around 2minutes, but I warn you, it's sickening and heart-breaking:

But I love lolita. So so much. I'm thinking about learning to sew (have been saying this for a long time!) and if I get any good at it, starting a clothing line that makes ethical lolita clothing - organic cottons, sewn by me, printed with vegetable dyes, and so on. I want to create something that says: you can be beautiful AND good to the world. Recycled fabrics would also feature largely in my designs.

If I learn to sew and come up with some nice designs, would you be interested? The clothing would probably cost a little more than standard handmade clothing, but less than brand, and you could wear it feeling good that you're doing something for the environment and not exploiting poor workers in impoverished countries!

I couldn't find footage of any lolita factories (no surprise there) but I doubt the conditions at places like Bodyline are better - and I wouldn't put money on big brands like AP having better working conditions either.

Now on a lighter note (I need cheering up after all that), unusual_alice at My Princess Garden has left us bloggers with a challenge - to make some new lolita friends! Online, penpal, in person, whatever! She writes:

To anyone reading this post! I have a challenge for you! Whether or not you accept it is up to you, but lets give it our best shot to help all of those lonely lolita's out there feel at home! Whether you are lonley or not, I would love to ask of everyone to find someone on Livejournal, msn, facebook, whatever you like, and try and make friends! You can message each other, send gifts, and one day, you may have realized that you have found a best friend :)

So, if you'd like to be my pen-pal, leave a comment or email me at and I'd love to make friends with you! ^__^

Thanks for reading, if you're not following already please do, I post most days!


  1. 'Ello deary :) I'm always looking for a friend. I'm with you. I've always been the hippie organic girl, and yet none of my loli clothes are even 100% organic cotton. Shame on me. Even my jeans are organic with recycled buttons XD. I've actually debated (if I ever learn to sew well enough)making all of my clothes from organic materials. Always a dreamer. :)
    Well if you'd like to be my penpal my e-mail is (snail mail, e-mail, whatever you like :) )

  2. I am not sure if people would go for the whole organic cotton and recycled fibers (simply because of the higher price point), but I support independent designers!! I am trying to start a line myself :) Your idea really does sound very nice, and I think it is lovely you want to make such a positive option available to Lolitas, but I am not sure it would work out in real life. Bodyline has $30-50 JSKs so of course girls are going to go for those over the $150 JSKS, ethical or not :/

    If you can convert even just a few Lolitas into buying ethically though, I think it will be counted a success :) I wish you luck!

  3. I love the idea of having a snail-mail penpal, I'll email you my address if you do the same? Do you want to write first or shall I?


    None of my loli clothes are anything close to environmentally or ethically friendly :(

  4. That PenPal idea sounds great! I'm glad that you're promoting it. (:

  5. Just a casual reader passing by, just a few thoughts. I'm not sure if you're aware of how difficult it is to succeed in fashion, let alone lolita fashion. Although I'm all for organic-things and everything that is good for the earth, it is highly unlikely that you can ever raise it as a feasible business.

    For one thing, lolita is small market. Already the price points for lolita are high enough for their regular 'harmful' fabrics. To make lolita in organic cotton is raising theprice further, and thinking about it rationally would people buy it? Unless of course somehow your target customers are hugely wealthy and you can have a steady flow of them, then there is no problem.

    I hugely adore the idea of recycled fabrics in your designs also, but realistically I don't think the fabric itself can be considered a design feature unless your recycled fabrics are that unique.

    Not trying to be a wet blanket, but realistic. I myself am an aspiring fashion designer with dreams of having lolita in my own label and whatnot...and having learnt enough in school just makes me rethink things and hopefully you will too.

    I am glad that you want to pursue a more noble and ethically friendly way to wear and in general be lolita but I think there are many factors that you have yet to consider. I hope that you'll find a way to make your dream come true, god knows we need more dreams like that, and more support so that it comes true.


  6. Aww I never meant to make it sound like i was going to run a business, for starters i'm not the entrepreneurial type! but i'd love to at least make my own clothes like that, and maybe sell to a few others who are interested. We shall see!

    Best of luck with your fashion career!

  7. I'd love to find inexpensive fabrics that are either recycled and/or vegetable dyed.
    I try to make my own or buy from sites like Etsy now.

    I'll be your friend <3
    I need to update my blog too :P

  8. I can't help but disagree with you.

    While I do not like the idea of poor working conditions nor child labor, if there is no longer a demand for clothes these people will be without a job and no longer able to support their families. Wouldn't that be worse?

    I think because we have the luxury of nice working conditions, we feel that the working conditions of those in third-world countries are extremely poor. However, coming from someone whose family are Asian, these cramped factories are actually considered much better than if they had to work elsewhere. And low wage...compared to our wages? Of course it is, but expenses overseas are much cheaper than what we have. For instance, I can have a nice proper meal in what is considered an 'upper market' restaurant for only the equalavent of AUD$1.50 in Vietnam. So imagine how far that small wage can go for locals who know where to buy things cheaply. I know people who earn less than $100 a month, but still leave quite comfortably in third-world countries.

    I'm all for improving living and working conditions for these people, but I want to give you another perspective on this situation. Yes, compared to our standards, this is extremely poor conditions, but compared to them, it's actually better than other jobs (afterall, there are people in India who have to scavenge through rubbish and waste to find plastic to sell - earning them less than a dollar for a big bag worth).

  9. One of the girls in one interview said that she hopes westerners dont boycott clothes produced in ´poor conditions´ because they need their jobs. So I totally get your point there.

    I hadn´t thought about the idea that the pay from jobs Asia would more easily pay for the things the workers need to buy. On the other hand, you´d think they´d probably rather sleep in their own house/apartment than on factory floor without any blankets.

    It´s obviously something I can´t totally understand, not having had any personal experience of it. Hopefully I haven´t offended or anything.

  10. The sad thing is, the factory floor IS better than sleeping in the cold/heat on dirty streets (which is a reality in third-world countries). Houses and apartments are a luxury which only the very wealthy can afford, for the middle class their 'houses' are more like huts or shacks.

    It's not as though I'm offended by your post, as I can see you have good intentions, it's just sometimes people need to see both sides of a story and not just what is shown to us. I think people tend forget the culture and living conditions are very different from what we are use to.

    Anyways, I'll shut up now XD lol. I hope I don't sound like I'm having a go at you...really, I'm not. Just trying to give you a perspective from the other side ^__^

  11. I do understand, it's just that the whole thing makes me sad :(