Differences Between Japanese and Chinese Lolita Culture with Midori Fukasawa and Xie Anran | Translated Interview

This is a translated interview between the two lolita fashion models Midori Fukasawa from Japan and Xie Anran from China. The original interview was posted on Harajuku Pop on December 26, 2019 in Japanese. Rather than having a formal interviewer, Midori asked the questions to Anran, so it reads more like a dialogue between the two. Midori is wearing Alice and the Pirates’s Queen Lilia OP and Anran is wearing Baby, the Stars Shine Bright’s Le rêve d’un Ange OP for a contrasting black and white pairing.

For easier readability, not all photos from the set have been reposted here. Please see the original post in Japanese linked below for all of the pictures.

What made you start liking lolita?

Midori: An-chan, you’re a lolita model in China, but you liked lolita before you became a model, right? When did you become a lolita?

Anran: I found out about lolita fashion in elementary school! From as long as I can remember I’ve liked frilly western style clothing. However, I couldn’t start wearing lolita until my freshman year of university, so I’ve only been wearing it 3 to 4 years now. In China, from the time you’re in elementary school up until high school you’re really busy studying for entrance exams, so there was really no time to enjoy fashion. In high school you wear China’s standard school uniform… Do you know about Chinese school uniforms?

Midori: Eh, what what? I have no idea that China has school uniforms! This is the first time I’ve heard of that.

Anran: You were not allowed to wear a skirt. Boys and girls had to wear the exact same tracksuit as a school uniform. 

Midori: Eh- That’s so surprising! Wow, that must be why sailor outfits are so popular with girls in China. 

Anran: You might be right! Japanese girls have such cute uniforms, I’m so jealous!

Midori: But if that’s the case, how did you discover lolita when you were in elementary school?

Anran: Anime was my turning point! I saw Rozen Maiden in a famous Chinese anime magazine and I discovered lolita. For as long as I can remember I’ve liked frilly western style clothing, and I always wanted to look like a princess, so the second I saw lolita fashion I was in love. 

Midori: Aw really! I wonder if there are a lot of girls like that in China? 

Anran: I think there’s a lot! I can speak a little Japanese and it’s what I remember from anime! Since Rozen Maiden was my first anime, I’ve loved it this whole time. ❤︎

I also do styling

Midori: An-chan, in Japan being a “model” is an endless job from taking photos, to acting as a stylist, to deciding the direction, and making sure you maintain a lolita-like image. I saw that you even organize these events! I was really surprised that it was An-chan who greeted me!

Anran: Since I really love the world of lolita, so I did my best to try and build it up! But in China, a lot of lolita models have to do their own styling. Last year I did around 700 lolita photo shoots, but I had to do my own styling for about 90% of them. 

Midori: Wow that many.…!!

Anran: Well a lot of Chinese brands only make a one piece and maybe a hair piece so… 

Midori: Oh really! In Japan it’s normal for brands to make everything from hair pieces to small accessories, but it’s different in China!

Anran: That’s right, so deciding what from your private collection of accessories works with a coordinate is a part of being a lolita model’s job here. From deciding things like the hairstyle, make up, and nail design, you have to decide everything for each individual coordinate. So in my house I have a room only for lolita that has things like small accessories and wigs. 

Midori: That’s so shocking! It sounds like a room many lolitas dream of. 

Anran: Having a house full of my favorite clothes and being able to work as a lolita model is really fun! I made a home tour video, I think I’ll upload it soon!

Beauty method

Midori: I’m sure everyone asks every model but…An-chan, I want to hear your beauty routine~❤︎ Like how you keep your skin so beautiful or if there are any secret techniques used in China! I want you to teach me! (laughs)

Anran: I actually go to a beauty clinic every week!

Midori: A beauty clinic? Do we have those in Japan too??

Anran: I wonder? It’s a place that does plastic surgery and a beauty salon all in one, so…

Midori: Wow that’s amazing!! What do you do there?

Anran: They can do anything for you there! I mainly just get facials, but I also get my pores steamed, and get them poked and cleaned with a needle. It can help clear up your acne. I also whiten my teeth every week!

Midori: It sounds like a place that can meet any customers’ needs. That’s amazing! I wish they had something like that in Japan!! Are those types of beauty clinics common in China? 

Anran: They’re not something special just for models. I think the average woman goes to them too! Though there might not be many people who go to them every week…(laugh)

Midori: I want to do something about my sagging face! Korugi massages used to be more common but not so much these days…

Anran: For dealing with face sagging, I think Japan is better at it than China! I think Japan is a better option for lift ups, so all the young Chinese girls go there to get them!

Midori: In Japan there is the image that all the young girls go to Korea for them! (laugh)

Anran: Well, it seems like everyone thinks that foreign countries have the best beauty techniques. (laugh) But individually, I think it’s best for you to do it in your own country. Because beauty clinics design techniques and procedures for the people in their country. Every country has things that they’re good at, but your own country has what’s best for you. 

Midori: I see! Before you look at other’s goals, you should look at your own! (laugh)

Anran: But vice versa, I have the same question. Midori how is your face so small? (laugh)

Midori: Actually, among my siblings, I have the biggest face! (laugh) It runs in my father’s family, so it must just be hereditary? 

Anran: Eeeeeeeh! I’m so jealous!!! No matter what I do, I always just see what I’m lacking, but it’s not a bad thing for girls to want to be pretty. Of course girls are always in pursuit of “beauty.” I want to be more “beautiful!” (laugh) I think it’s good to pursue different countries’ beauty! Find your beauty method and let’s all do our best at our mission to become “beautiful!”

Midori: From now on I think I’ll ask all models for their technique to mimic! (laugh)

The differences between Japanese lolitas and Chinese lolitas

Anran: In China we say that Japan has “classical” and “traditional” lolitas. We say that in the long history of lolita, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright was the first brand and from there every brand has established its own style. In China, we basically feel that Japanese lolitas are our senpai. I especially liked Baby, so even from the beginning I had strong feelings towards Baby. That’s what makes me want to push forward. Chinese brands had a later starting point than Japanese brands, but over the years they’ve been continuously improving their work, and I think that is so wonderful. 

Midori: Right now it feels like the lolita boom is peaking in China. It seems like a new lolita style is being developed there, so you can see how much more fun people are having with that freedom compared to Japan. In Japan, there aren’t really any new young models coming into  the scene, so it feels like it’ll be difficult to pass lolita onto the next generation, but in China it seems there are a lot of young girls into lolita! 

Anran: Absolutely. Even elementary schoolers are wearing lolita these days. Though I’m jealous because I was stuck wearing a tracksuit all throughout elementary school. (laugh) Even now lolita is considered as more of just a normal stylish form of fashion in China rather than a unique individual fashion. Even girls who don’t know about lolita fashion are incorporating elements of it into their outfits. 

Midori: A long time ago, popular fashion styles started from Harajuku, I wonder if it’s the same now in China. Because normal girls really are just wearing it now.

Anran: Yeah, it feels like that! But from my perspective, it’s not that lolita has become normal fashion, but maybe the lolita spirit? Like the heart of it. I like of lolita’s heart being something like “regardless of the influence of others around you, you stay true to your own style” 

Midori: I think people who love lolita all tend to have those same feelings. ♡ Regardless of country, as long as girls who love lolita are around, I’m happy to be able to share these feelings! I hope that Japan can also have girls who evangelize lolita to the next generation just like An-chan!

Anran: For us, Midori-chan was that person!

Midori: Thank you! (laugh) I’ve been working at spreading lolita for a long time and I plan on still promoting lolita in the future, but in order for lolita to continue spreading, if we don’t have a future generation to continue wearing lolita fashion, I don’t think it can continue. 

Anran: I certainly think it’ll keep spreading! At times when it’s spreading, at times when it’s out of fashion, there are always people who love lolita! I started wearing lolita because I looked up to people like Midori-senpai! 

Midori: Really…Well I’ll keep doing my best!

Freely enjoying lolita

Anran: In China, lolita has become such a commonplace thing, but 10 years ago that was absolutely not the case. Wearing lolita and walking around the city weren’t really common. You’d still get a lot of people staring at you. Was that not a thing in Japan? 

Midori: Certainly! There was a time when people would do things like stare at you with wide eyes and speak really coldly to you. But at the beginning it was considered very fashionable, but now I think it’s become more like that…

Anran: As I thought, it’s the same! To overcome those times and keep wearing lolita, I think our lolita senpais really do have courage. 

Midori: There was also a time when lolita had too strict rules, right? Like if you wore a wig while in lolita it would be called cosplay and you had to have bangs. Japan also had a time like that. 

Anran: We had rules like that in China too! Like if you wear a jumper skirt you absolutely have to wear a blouse under it. 

Midori: That’s also a trend right now in Japan! (laugh)

Anran: These days lolitas are more independent of the rules. Everyone is coordinating their outfits in cute and comfy ways! A long time ago, things that were considered taboo also present a new challenge. People attempt the challenge and even the brands have gotten used to it and people are accepting it more.

Midori: Japanese lolitas’ exported their rules to China, but inversely Chinese lolitas’ imported their freedom to Japan. There were times when I couldn’t believe that lolitas would be so connected, but seeing cute Chinese lolita models more, and more people are thinking it’s a good thing. Using social media to look through the「lo娘*」tag, even Japanese lolitas can see this style and take inspiration from it! People see it and feel like “this is new!”

Anran: Since lolita is a culture, we should reflect and create new things, but also acknowledge and remember the good things from the past without throwing it away. You should be able to wear lolita freely and casually too. But wearing a full set and following all the rules really make my heart beat! I think it’s good to use the rules and balance them. I think it’s important not to get too caught up on the rules because it’s more fun that way and if you do the harder it is to include lolita in your everyday life. For Japan and China, I hope that we will continue to influence each other and it would be great if lolita is able to continue to spread like that!

Follow Midori Fukasawa: Twitter | Instagram

Follow Xie Anran: Weibo | bilibili

If you want to learn more about Xie Anran, she is also a contestant on China’s idol competition show this year! Read about her in my previous post: Meet Xie Anran: Chinese Lolita Model and Produce Camp 2020 Idol Trainee.

Source: Harajuku Pop | Photos by 枕鶴

Translator Notes

The article cites an interpreter 星箱works. Anran and Midori may have possibly been speaking through an interpreter, meaning large parts of this interview could have been translated back and forth from Japanese to Chinese and Chinese to Japanese, completely into Japanese for the article, and then finally translated into English here. Some of the original nuances may have been lost along the way.

* lo娘 (lomusume) is a Chinese slang for someone who wears lolita as daily clothing

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