Love Live! School Idol Project announced a summer pop-up shop with a new controversial visual featuring characters wearing lolita fashion. The pop-up will be held at Harajuku ALTA, a shopping mall located on Takeshita Street.
Love Live! is the largest and best selling of Japan’s 2-D idol franchises. For a franchise as large as Love Live!, it’s lazy and unethical to copy these designs without permission.
Numerous lolita fashion enthusiasts on Weibo and Twitter were unhappy with the visual reveal and claimed the designs were plagiarized. Many of the dresses are copies of existing dresses from small Chinese indie brands.
Copying from Reference
Drawing from reference is an excusable offense when it’s for personal use, but the problem is that a lot of these designs are 1:1 copy.
Wien Margarete is wearing an Ozz On corset JSK and blouse. Ozz On is a a Japanese brand, but this particular Ozz On dress is extremely popular in China.
Mei Yoneme is wearing a knockoff of the Gothic Hime JSK by Chinese brand Alice Girl. This design from Alice Girl has been released multiple (over 25) times, but the knockoff is still being sold widely.
Some of other girls wearing copies are Chisato, Sumire, and Tomari:
The other half of the designs are a mix match of multiple dresses. While this is technically legal, from the perspective of a small fashion brand, it sucks.
“Hey can I copy your homework?”
“yeah but change it a bit so it’s not obvious you copied”
To add to the proof, several questions about the goal of promo art came to mind.
1. Harajuku ALTA doesn’t even have any lolita shops inside of it, so why did they want them to wear lolita? If I had to guess, they wanted to capture the spirit of Takeshita Street and alternative fashion, but modern day lolitas avoid Takeshita Street when they can since it’s become too crowded with tourists.
2. If they wanted to honor Harajuku fashion, then why are most of them wearing Chinese lolita brands?
3. Ozz On is even a Japanese brand, so why didn’t Love Live! make an official collaboration? Other large idol franchises have collaborated with lolita brands before. One example being a collaboration between Japanese lolita brand Metamorphose and BanG Dream!’s Roselia group.
All of these questions lead me to believe that the Love Live! team decided to choose Chinese brand dresses to avoid upsetting Japanese brands.
Using visual references is a fundamental part of learning to draw. That’s an art fundamental and it’s fine for personal use. But when you’re doing commercial art for a multi million dollar franchise, there’s no excuse for plagiarism.