Q: In Japan, Gothic & Lolita fashion is not just clothing – it's a lifestyle! There are restaurants, nightlife / bands, fashion designers, celebrities, boutiques and places where Lolitas gather and show off their style. Do you think G&L Bible will help a similar lifestyle scene develop in the States?
Jenna: I don’t think that Lolita will ever become a lifestyle in the United States in the sense that is in Japan. Although a strong community has built up around the fashion, the interests of that community are pretty divergent outside the issue of dress. There isn’t a commonality such as music or food or some other cultural element that really binds Lolitas together. Instead, it’s almost cooler in the States, because you have all these people with really different interests and talents and ideas coming together because they share an enjoyment of this one thing!
Q: What was behind the decision to get the license and publish this in the States? What made TokyoPop think that now was the right time to put out a U.S. edition?
Michelle: Back in 2003, I proposed the idea of publishing Gothic & Lolita Bible in English, at a time when the Lolita fashion was just beginning to gain popularity outside Japan. As this was a new kind of project for TokyoPop, and also for the Japanese publisher, Index, it took some time to get all the kinks worked out.
The timing of the release in 2008 couldn’t be better, though, as now the fashion has grown in popularity to such an extent that the Japanese brands have become more aware of their growing international consumer base, and more interested in working with us to help promote the fashion. So now, the mook is coming out at a turning point for Lolita fashion in the West, which is very exciting!
Q: Is this the first international edition of the Gothic & Lolita Bible, or has it also been published in other languages?
JW: This is the first international edition. Right now, TokyoPop has rights to distribute in North America, but of course we’d love to publish the content in other countries like France or Germany, where there’s a strong interest in Lolita.
Q: I flipped through the first issue and noticed that it's a mix of 'greatest hits' from past Japanese issues, plus new and original content in this U.S. edition that was not published in the original Japanese edition. What was the thought behind approaching it this way?
Jenna: The first issue was definitely a learning process, both for the staff at TokyoPop and for the licensor in Japan. We really wanted to put together a cohesive mook with a lot of recent content, but not everything we wanted to translate was available, either because the licensor didn't have the rights to publish the material outside Japan or because the files themselves weren’t available to us. So, together, we worked through the most recent material they could provide us at the time, and we chose the content we though the audience would be most interested in from what was available.
Now that we have the kinks worked out, future volumes will be more thematic in nature. From volume two forward, we’ll be picking up content from the Japanese version that is a year behind—but only content that isn’t time- or trend-sensitive, such as interviews, short stories, and articles. We’re going directly to the Japanese brands to obtain up-to-date styles, and we’re also going to be supplementing the Japanese material with some great content covering events, designers, community happenings, and the like in the States and beyond.
Q: How did you first get turned on to Gothic and Lolita fashion, and how did you get this assignment to work on this mook?
Jenna: My background with Lolita is actually kind of interesting. When I was a freshman in college, my roommate was a Japanese exchange student. I was really open to learning about other cultures, and she was great about sharing her experiences with me. We shared a similar fashion sense and, at that time, we were the same size, so we could share wardrobes.
She was always introducing me to cutting-edge music and fashion, and she was the first to bring Lolita to my attention. We’ve kept in touch all these years, and she remains one of my best friends. When I’ve gone to visit her in Japan, we’ve made it a habit of making a special trip to see the Japanse Lolitas. So, both of us were surprised and pleased that I was able to work on this project, with our history and interest there!
Otherwise, my background is primarily in books—writing and editing children’s books, gift books, and art books. I’m the senior editor for TOKYOPOP’s light novels and have been with the company for a year.
Michelle: I’ve been an avid fan of Lolita since I was in high school, many moons ago. I have a large personal collection of the clothing and was really fascinated by the Japanese fashion scene, which is why I picked up Japanese language courses when I entered college. I interned for TokyoPop back in 2003, which is when I pitched the idea of an English-language G&LB.
Since then, I’ve been traveling around Japan, spending three years on and off in Tokyo and Osaka. While I was in Japan, the mook progress really took hold, and I served as a contributing editor from abroad. This past December, I moved to Los Angeles to join the TokyoPop team and am working exclusively on the mook.