Atelier Pierrot on Business, International Marketing, and Plus Size Lolita Clothing [Interview]

Atelier Pierrot is one of the original gothic lolita brands of Japan. Their flagship store is located inside the famous LaForet department store located in the heart of Harajuku. Atelier Pierrot is known for their elegant gothic lolita pieces with a unique corset bodice that create a beautiful silhouette and romantic gothic image. In 2019, they created a sub-brand named Vallée Lys for more classic lolita designs.

We sat down with Atelier Pierrot’s CEO and designer, Ashizawa Yuko, and their international brand manager, Connie, to discuss Atelier Pierrot’s business approach, their new extended size range, and expanding their international reach.

This is the second time Atelier Pierrot was a guest at A-Kon. Thanks to FAKE STAR USA we were able to interview them after their fashion show!

Welcome back to Texas. What’s your favorite thing about traveling to international events? Do you have any special Texas memories? 

Yuko: I’ve been to a lot of overseas events and what really sticks with me is things like the fashion shows and tea parties. For example, this A-Kon we had such a huge and lively turn out to our fashion show and tea party, it makes me so incredibly happy! 

Connie: This was something that Yuko mentioned earlier to me, but one thing is how nice it is that everyone is cheering so loudly during the fashion shows. Things like that are so different! It absolutely does not happen like that in Japan, people are usually watching so quietly and demurely, so we really love that energy from the fashion shows. Even for me, being from the UK, people maybe would be cheering but it really goes to the extreme here! It’s really fun to see that kind of love and support so clearly! 

Do you have a favorite Texas memory, Connie?

Connie: My main thing is that this is my first time in Texas and my first US convention I have ever been to. Everyone has been so kind and supportive. I’ve definitely noticed that people in Texas are very friendly, much more friendly than people in London ever would be and unbelievably so. I’ve heard about the legend of Buc-ees and hopefully I’ll be able to go to Buc-ees and make that memory. I’ve heard various different things about it and still don’t quite understand what’s going on, but I want to see it for myself. 

Other than Harajuku, where would you recommend lolitas visit in Japan?

Yuko: Yokohama! Japanese people love Yokohama but not many people from other countries go there! Japanese people really love Yokohama! Yokohama has Chukagai (Yokohama’s Chinatown) and Yokohama is super beautiful and super Instagrammable! We also now have a store at the Yokohama Vivre department store.

Interior of Atelier Pierrot's Yokohama shop.
Atelier Pierrot’s new Yokohama shop [via Twitter]

If you’re looking for a place that’s more Japanese, I recommend going to Shinjuku’s Golden Gai. The gap between lolita and Shinjuku’s Golden Gai is super cute!

Connie: In Japan, there are a lot of beautiful gardens that have seasonal flowers that I recommend going to. Especially in Japan, they love doing a garden that has like one thousand of one particular flower, so you can take lots of beautiful photos amongst the flowers if you find gaps between all the other people visiting. So you will occasionally see lolitas there that are wearing coordinates that match the flowers. I really recommend checking out the different places for flowers like hydrangeas and red spider lilies. 

Does Atelier Pierrot consider themselves a gothic brand or a lolita brand?

Yuko: We are mainly a gothic lolita brand that also sells gothic and classic lolita clothing. 

What is the distinction between gothic and lolita?

Connie: This is actually a really interesting question because I think it’s a bit different between Japan versus overseas. 

Overseas, people consider lolita to be the umbrella term that includes classic, gothic, and sweet. Whereas in Japan, there is lolita, including classic and sweet, and gothic lolita, which is gothic and gothic lolita styles together.

So, actually, I had this discussion with Yuko recently, and we had one outfit that was using our long bustle floor-length jumperskirt. I think a lot of people struggle to know where to place that as gothic or gothic lolita. We actually decided that the black and white version was gothic lolita and the black version was just gothic.

Black and white bustle dress vs. black and black bustle dress.
Atelier Pierrot’s Long Bustle JSK, gothic lolita vs. goth

So just adding a few extra little frilly elements, the frills and the ruffles are what really makes the difference.

How did Yuko start working for Atelier Pierrot?

Yuko: Originally, I was working at a different clothing brand. The previous owner and designer, Ohashi, was having troubles with the company, so I got pulled in to help.

Connie: Yuko started working for the brand in 2006. The shop was founded as Pierrot in 1969. In 1993 the name changed to Atelier Pierrot. During that time it wasn’t necessarily a lolita store; it was selling more gothic and more casual clothing.

How did the designs change from when Yuko started working for the company?

Yuko: Previously, there wasn’t much consistency in the designs. Some would be really small, some would be really big. Ohashi would design things while making them. For my approach, I would design first and then begin making the items. When Ohashi was designing things, they could slowly change.

Other things that changed were the lace. Ohashi mainly used ruffle lace and didn’t use a lot of tulle lace because it wasn’t as popular back then, only classical lolita brands used it. They used to use a lot of different lace types, such a cotton, but since I moved to using only chemical and cotton lace. 

Closeup of original white lace by Atelier Pierrot.
Atelier Pierrot’s original lace

Can you explain the production timeline for an item to be made? 

Yuko: It’s a three month long process from starting the design to being sold in stores.

First, I draw the design. During that time, we decide the sizing of items. We also decide what fabric and lace we are going to use. 

Then, we submit and get our first sample. There are two things that happen during that time: sourcing the fabric and making the dress pattern. 

After we receive our first sample, we have all of our staff try it on. Is it too small? Too short? Is it cute? Or not cute at all? After that we make adjustments and submit it to receive our second sample. If there are no problems, we confirm and then begin production. 

Connie: All of the full time staff, like store managers and such, are involved in the design process. A lot of times staff say they can’t wait to see it, but sometimes there are suggestions for very small adjustments, such as suggesting that somewhere have two layers of lace. The staff are also involved with voting for what colors they think should be released. 

Different store staff, particularly the store managers and international manager, get to have some input in what they think would be popular in their particular department. 

Is most of Atelier Pierrot’s production made in Japan?

Yuko: The majority of pieces are made in Japan. With our Japanese factories, we can produce smaller quantities of pieces faster, which are easier for restocks, rather than huge releases. 

Connie: The majority of the production is in Japan. We use a few different manufacturers for different pieces.

All black kuro gothic lolita outfit featuring corset dress, princess sleeve blouse, and round headdress on mannequin.

How many pieces are made of each design?

Connie: It’s kind of a trade secret so we cannot go into detail, but I want to assure you it is a much smaller number than most people think. All lolita brands are the same way. They are not like huge American brands that are producing thousands of items or has thousands of each item in stock, it’s definitely not as big of a number.

For all of our releases this is true, and especially plus size releases. They are a much smaller scale than people imagine. 

Do you have an archive of everything that’s ever been released? 

Yuko: Most things have gone on to people’s private collections. 

Connie: If we did, I would have shared it for archival purposes. 

What is Atelier Pierrot’s strengths in comparison to other brands? 

Connie: I think one of Atelier Pierrot’s main strengths is the sizing range that we have.  We have multiple sizes that we release, but even our size 1 pieces have lots of shirring and lace-up designs that allow people of a variety of sizes to wear the different pieces.

Full shirring on a blouse.
Atelier Pierrot signature items often have elastic shirring.

And of course, Atelier Pierrot is famous for a kind of gothic, vampiric image. I really love the fact that we’re allowing everyone to be able to step into that world!

How has COVID-19 affected Atelier Pierrot’s business strategy?

Yuko: Because of COVID-19, we had to close all of our physical shops. Our customers heard that we were close to bankruptcy, so our customers did their best to buy from home and sent a bunch of messages on social media saying “Do your best!” and “You can do it!” Because of all of the support our customers gave us, we were actually able to sell out and Atelier Pierrot is only here today because of all of the support we received from our customer base. 

Online sales have also generally increased since COVID-19. 

Connie: For the international aspect, one of the huge factors for that was we couldn’t have international customers coming to Japan for a while. That’s why Atelier Pierrot started doing more livestreams.

We started doing our weekly shopping livestreams at that time to give people a chance to experience shopping in the Harajuku store, even if they couldn’t physically be there. And so we definitely tried to find alternative ways to reach out to customers.

Shopping livestream promo image.

Atelier Pierrot has always been a select shop, how has this helped? For example, has it helped to have a collaborative relationship, as opposed to a competitive relationship? 

Yuko: As a select shop, there are some brands we’ve had a good relationship with for a long time. If sales are good, we’re able to do special limited edition collaborations that are sold exclusively in our shop. 

Connie: In particular, we’ll have “order fairs” where people can customize certain items that are limited to Atelier Pierrot. It’s a good way for items to be created that match the “Atelier Pierrot” image or that can be timed with certain Atelier Pierrot releases as a good combination. Atelier Pierrot releases a lot of accessories that are more fabric based, but not many accessories that are jewelry or necklaces. So by working together with other brands in the select shop, customers can go to the store and create a full coordinate. Because we sell a variety of different styles, people can really express their creativity, something you can also see on our mannequins as well. We try to incorporate many different brands together, often in different ways that are unexpected and really unique. When you’re limited to using only one brand, you can create beautiful coordinates, but it’s easier to show your personality through wearing a variety of brands. 

Shop staff outfits using items from many different brands.
Multi-brand coordinates by Atelier Pierrot shop staff [via Twitter]

How did Atelier Pierrot decide to start selling overseas indie brands?

Yuko: Some of the first international brands we started selling were Miss Danger, Violet Fane, and Moss Badger. All of them we met at an event overseas. I’m not sure if we approached them first, or if they approached us, but we met at an event and I thought they made beautiful pieces and we started selling them in our shop. Similar to Haenuli over there. (The Haenuli booth was directly across from the Atelier Pierrot booth at the convention)

Connie: Also managers can make suggestions. Not only for overseas brands but domestic brands as well. Brands that they particularly like or brands that they think would sell well with Atelier Pierrot. For example, Microcosm was a recent brand we introduced, and that brand was introduced by Sasaki, the Harajuku store manager. I proposed Neant Glass, which was a brand that the store staff were not aware of, but recently Japanese customer had been seeing me and some other overseas lolitas wearing their pieces, and becoming more and more interested. 

The big thing with select shop brands is being able to reach out. It’s much easier for Japanese brands when Atelier Pierrot reached out and says “We really like your designs, would you be interested in selling in our store?” It’s normally not easy for a Japanese company to reach out to overseas brands, so that’s why meeting at events has been so nice. Now that I am working at Atelier Pierrot, it’s easier for us to contact overseas brands that we think would do well with Atelier Pierrot. 

What impact does your international customer base have on Atelier Pierrot?

Yuko: It’s really easy to see what works and what doesn’t work with our international customer base, because we’re more likely to get direct feedback from them. Our Japanese customer base tends to be less vocal with what they like and don’t like, even when it comes to small things. Direct feedback makes it easy to understand how to adapt our designs and products for international customers. 

Are there different trends you have noticed between different customer bases? such as the domestic market versus the Western market in the Chinese market. 

Yuko: For the difference between Japan and China, China will buy a lot of one particular item. One buyer will buy a lot of the same item. Once an influencer posts a picture wearing an item, that item will fly off the shelves. 

For America, you’ll see people buying a lot more different types of items, rather than following one influencer’s particular impact.

Connie: Recently one of the big trends that I’ve noticed in China and Japan that is starting to spread more overseas is much shorter skirts in lolita.

Atelier Pierrot’s 4 Tier Corset JSK which has a slightly shorter skirt length than usual. [via Atelier Pierrot fashion show]

Kind of going back to some of the really, really early Atelier Pierrot designs of shorter skirts. It is starting to be seen a little bit more overseas, but it’s a huge trend in Japan. 

Overseas people are huge fans of purple. I’m not sure why in Japan, very often people will like the color, but it’s nothing compared to how crazy people go for it overseas. So, it’s something that I’m trying to release more of. So, that’s why you’ve seen lots of purple pieces popping up recently. 

Collage of Atelier Pierrot purple items over the emergency button meme.

For a Japanese brand, Atelier Pierrot is unusually interactive and open with their international customer base. How did you come to the decision and how has that affected business?

Yuko: From the beginning, I was able to meet so many different customers from all over the world when they came to our shop in Japan and at events like this! So many people at events who’ve been very kind and open with me! Because of those amazing experiences and also from working with Connie and doing so many events, we’ve expanded our international presence.  

Connie: I’m the person responsible for doing lots of their interactive elements. Mostly, we really wanted to be able to reach out to people. During the pandemic, I feel like there were a lot of new lolitas who were less familiar with Atelier Pierrot as a brand, and we wanted to be able to try and connect with those overseas customers. We did this by doing more videos, like Instagram Reels and things in English. I also began posting some stupid memes featuring Animorph chairs and like Pokemon releases and things. 

Animorphs transformation meme of a floral print antique chair turning into a classic floral print skirt.
Animorphs meme

This has some points consider when it whenever I’m doing things like this. For example, it’s really not a good idea for me to post the memes on the Atelier Pierrot main account because for Japanese lolitas, they don’t understand the joke. I think it kind of creates a different image of Atelier Pierrot. Atelier Pierrot is already known as quite a friendly laid back brand compared to some other Japanese brands but I think Animorphs is taking a step too far, maybe.

We have to really carefully consider everything. For example, overseas customers sometimes feel a bit uneasy if a lot of information is in Japanese. However Japanese customers feel uneasy if things are in English and new Japanese customers start to wonder if this is a safe brand to buy from. It’s always a careful balance of everything I have to consider. 

Have you considered a separate English Twitter?

Connie: I have considered it. However, Atelier Pierrot already has a lot of accounts for things to manage. I have a separate English Instagram account that Atelier Pierrot uses. We want to try and keep all our live streams easy to access. Our Atelier Pierrot main accounts post a lot of different coordinates and so it’s very easy for English posts to get lost.

For Twitter, it is something I have considered, but I think we already have five different Twitter accounts, which is quite a lot to follow. And if there is a separate twitter account, I would also have to be posting on Twitter as the only person posting in English. It’s probably a bit more than I can manage at the moment, but it’s something that I am considering.

What is the best way for customers to submit requests? 

Yuko: I haven’t really put any thoughts into how to take requests but you can talk to Connie or send them through social media. We want to do our best to fulfill any requests and meet our customer’s needs. 

Connie: We usually get requests for re-releases or other changes through Instagram DMs, but you can also submit requests via our online store email. Of course, it’s not guaranteed that we’ll be able to meet the request but we do consider every request. If there are lots of requests coming from, lots of different people that perhaps, this is something we can consider for the future.

6 gothic lolita models from Atelier Pierrot fashion show.

What inspired you to create more plus size lolita clothing?

Yuko: Connie! I’m pretty sure it was Connie! It was Connie’s idea. 

Connie: A little bit before the pandemic, I approached Yuko. At the time, I wasn’t working full time at Atelier Pierrot, but I was doing modeling for them. I said that Atelier Pierrot was already know as a more plus size friendly brand, but there are various aspect that are more difficult for people buying clothing. So even though the bust and waist measurements can be more accommodating, things like shoulders and arms have a bit more of a difficult fit. I would really love for everyone to be able to wear Atelier Pierrot, for as many people as possible to be able to wear the brand that I love. Atelier Pierrot was kind of aware of this a problem, but didn’t know how to fix it and didn’t have any of the information to start to be able to change things. As you might guess, the majority of our plus size customers are overseas, rather than in Japan, so it was difficult for them to ask questions or get ideas for the best range of sizing or what items people are interested in, so that’s why I have been doing a lot of market research into that. 

Ultimately, Atelier Pierrot has been very open-minded for trying various different things to find the best way that works to allow more and more people to be able to wear our items. 

Atelier Pierrot’s plus size Corset Bustle JSK worn. [via Atelier Pierrot fashion show]

At that same time, I had a conversation with Yuko that very often people comment on how good Atelier Pierrot is for representation, especially in comparison to a lot of Japanese brands. For example, in overseas fashion shows there are often a lot of people who are a variety of different sizes, ages, races, and genders wearing the fashion. When I commented on it Yuko just said “Oh, I just choose the people who are cute.” So it wasn’t a conscious decision of trying to fit people into categories, but the genuine belief that people are cute. 

How has the reception been to the more inclusive sizing? 

Connie: In general, I think the reception has been good. People seem really happy with the releases, Atelier Pierrot has also been really happy to see people wearing the plus size pieces. I’ve noticed that there are lot more comments of people being able to feel more comfortable wearing more items that are made for them, rather than being at the maximum measurements of items. 

For other things, the reception has really been good, but because the plus size pieces really rely on the overseas market, buying trends are very different. For example, people will say “oh I won’t buy it now” or they will wait to get it secondhand instead. However, I don’t think people understand how much smaller our runs are when compared to big fashion retailers. Atelier Pierrot pieces are already quite rare to find second hand and people tend to keep their gothic pieces for much longer than sweet items. So certainly people buying one item directly does truly help support plus size releases more and more. 

Two gothic lolitas sitting on fountain.
Models Connie and Bia twinning with Bustle Corset JSK.

What can customers look forward to this year?

Yuko: One of the big things we have coming up is that we have some events Atelier Pierrot is taking part in. One of them is the 10 year anniversary for Hellocon in Finland that I will be attending as a guest. We will also have our tea party and fashion show in Japan, sometime around the end of November and beginning of December. We will also take part in LaForet Private Party where you can see our new and exclusive items. 

Connie: With any luck, we should have a few more plus-size releases coming out. We’ve already got a plus size main piece that is coming soon. We have other plus size designs and plans lined up that will be slightly dependent on this current plus size release. Outside of plus size releases we have some popular items coming out in new fabrics, items that are especially loved overseas, I’m really looking forward to showing people!

Atelier Pierrot’s Plus Size MTO

Atelier Pierrot just began taking orders for their made-to-order plus size Bustle Corset JSK. The plus size version is available in 3 sizes (size 2, size 3, and size 4) each with properly scaled bust, waist, and hem circumference measurements. Atelier Pierrot ships internationally and has a 2,000 yen flat rate shipping for orders over 20,000 yen which 1 of these JSKs will qualify for.

This is Atelier Pierrot’s latest effort in increasing plus size lolita accessibility. The pre-order will end July 21, so order soon if you’re interested!

All 4 colorways (purple, navy, black x white, and wine) of plus size Corset Bustle jumperskirt.

Mini Review

Our co-owner Sarah worked the booth at A-Kon where Atelier Pierrot brought sample pieces for the plus size release. Sarah wanted to share her insight on these sample pieces:

“Atelier Pierrot has always had more forgiving shirring. The plus size pieces are a perfect example of creating a true extended size range. We were able to have customers try on the sample pieces, so they could get a feel for them, and they were extremely well received by American customers.

A big problem I have always had in lolita is that my bust size hikes the dress up. It makes the dress be uncomfortably short and look awkward sitting on my chest. But these pieces have longer bodices that make the fit more flattering and still give the wearer that signature Atelier Pierrot corset look. The straps are also adjustable length, meaning wearers don’t have to worry about showing cheek. The skirts also have a larger hem circumference to get even more of that Atelier Pierrot poofy full skirt silhouette.”


We were able to bring you this interview thanks to a lot of work by many people.

First of all, we’d like to thank Ashizawa Yuko and Connie of Atelier Pierrot for taking the time to sit with us! They were a pleasure to interview and I hope we can work together again in the future!

We’d also like to thank FAKE STAR USA for bringing Atelier Pierrot and allowing us to arrange an interview with them! We have covered other FAKE STAR USA events before and look forwards to sharing more from them!

Thank you to A-Kon and the A-Kon Fashion Department for their work bringing Atelier Pierrot and allowing us to cover the event!

Check out Atelier Pierrot’s fashion show I covered as well!

Read more about plus size manufacturing from Atelier Pierrot’s POV here.

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2 thoughts on “Atelier Pierrot on Business, International Marketing, and Plus Size Lolita Clothing [Interview]”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this interview. I don’t wear the gothic style, but I love all of the love that is put into making your brand’s clothes! Keep blogging!

  2. Thank you so much for posting this interview, it was fascinating and very enlightening! Atelier Pierrot has a unique and flattering style worth sharing with as many lolitas as possible, and I was very heartened to see the plus size additions available to international customers. I love the dress I have and look forward to getting even more pieces in the future. Best of luck to the everyone at Atelier Pierrot and much appreciation for their hard work in making beautiful gothic clothing!


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