Thursday, 13 April 2017

A Sad Farewell to Kera and the GLB

So if you have not heard by now, Kera and the Gothic Lolita Bible are ceasing publication. There has been a great outpouring online from people within the J-fashion community, so I originally wasn't going to make a post on this. But after having a bit more time to think, I feel it is going to have a deeper impact on me than I initially realised.

Firstly, I just want to firmly state my opinion on something- this is not going to be the death of Japanese fashion as long as we continue to wear the clothing we love. Yes, it is sad to see such a prominent J-Fashion magazine cease publishing, but it is not the first time we have seen a big name close and it wont be the last either. Fashion is always evolving and changing. I don't wear lolita because it is some 'flavour of the month', I wear it because it is a style I adore. I hope that a lot of you reading this feel the same way. It would be really sad to see people leaving the fashion because of Kera. When I think about Kera, I don't actually know that many people who buy it religiously (I don't count anybody who buys the odd issue here and there in this statement). The same goes for the Gothic Lolita Bible, although I know more people who do collect those, mostly for the sewing patterns.

Kera will be continuing online and their shop will be staying open. I suppose this is a sign of the times. Here in the UK we have seen a lot of content aimed at my age group moved from television to online only content. Research done suggests that younger audiences are more likely to watch Youtube videos or go on services such as Netflix. I have this friend who works in a library archive who used to be a fierce supporter of physical books. Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw said friend has been converted to e-books! She is the last person I would have expected to purchase an e-reader.

However, I don't think we should rule out the 'nostalgia' factor. There is an increasing demand for music on vinyl and lots more people are discovering the pleasure of collecting records. Some will argue the music sounds better on vinyl anyway, but there are other factors as well. Artwork, collecting rarities and simply being a fan of all things retro are also at play. Even with the rise of selfies, I don't think we will be seeing memorabilia such as autographs, set lists etc completely going away. Magazines are another item that could fit in to this 'nostalgia' category.

I mainly want to focus on Kera in this post because I think I have seen more posts relating to the GLB and I want to say why Kera had such an influence on me. Although I will continue to wear J-fashion whenever I please, that doesn't mean I am not devastated at the loss of both magazines.

I still remember the first time I read the English GLB and becoming enamored with a specific picture of a model wearing the Fruits Parlor Apron skirt. That one photo had such an influence on me and it was one of the major factors in me starting this blog. Without the original Japanese GLB I would have never encountered that picture which lead me on this long journey. But it wasn't until I attended the first Hyper Japan convention that I really paid attention to Kera. They were a guest at that first HJ event and were a massive part of the fashion show. Feeling curious, I picked up my first ever issue of Kera that day.

My first impression of Kera was 'wow, this is colourful'. Having only really read the GLB up until this point, I think I had a very narrow view on what Japanese fashion was. I felt that everything had to neatly fit in to their intended categories and follow the guidelines of that specific fashion. But in Kera, I saw a completely different approach to fashions such as lolita. Dare I say, they almost looked a bit... ita. However, in the context of the fashion shoots they somehow looked beautiful. Despite trying to stick to lolita's guidelines, the impact of reading my first ever Kera never really left me. It reminded me that fashion can be fun and you can play around and experiment. Yes, it may not strictly fit the rules of one specific fashion, but at the end of the day these were my clothes. I paid for them, so it was up to me how I chose to wear them. I suppose my attitude was that if something broke the rules a bit, wear it anyway and simply don't label it as being certain fashions.

But even if there was the odd questionable outfit choice, it is important to remember that Kera featured pages upon pages of street snaps. These pages serve as a guide of what J-fashion fans were actually wearing whilst going about their daily business. I appreciate that you get specific groups to share outfits, such as Closet of Frills for lolita, but a lot of the outfits that tend to get the most 'likes' on there are the OTT outfits which are worn for the more high-profile events. I have nothing against OTT, but in my opinion, a lot of the time Closet of Frills is not an accurate interpretation of how lolitas are actually wearing the fashion. I know some people feel that they cannot share their more casual outfits on there, for example. Sure, you do get some people who post casual outfits, but the majority of the time it seems to me that these largely get ignored unless there is something about it that particularly stands out (immaculate photo taking, well thought out accessories, etc...). This is somewhere where I feel Kera really shone. Even though Kera held special events for some of their snaps, the beauty of Kera was when they captured people on the street who had not had time to prepare beforehand. Sometimes the outfits did not amaze me, but sometimes I saw some real hidden gems among the snaps. I got a lot of inspiration from the close-ups. Also, it sometimes really helps to see how clothing looks on an actual person rather than on a shop dummy. It can completely change your opinion about certain pieces. I am a bit concerned about how the transition to online-only content will work for Kera. Will it have that same charm? The same impact? When I appeared in the Gothic Lolita Bible my first thought was I had to go and get myself the physical copy right away. I wonder how I would feel if I got pictured now? Obviously my initial reaction would be very different. Would I go an post a link on my Facebook? Would I grab a screenshot from the website?

But it is the fashion shoots that I think I will miss the most. They were fun and experimental. If Kera was a friend, they would be the friend who would encourage you to have that slice of cake, they would dare you to go and do something that seems scary and would tell you to laugh it off when somebody makes fun of you. I am going to miss the sense of freedom and quirkiness of Kera.

When I was sick recently and other times where I have been ill in the past, I would cuddle up with my duvet and my pile of Kera magazines. Every time I did, it felt as though I was reconnecting with Japanese fashion and it would be like I was falling in love with it all over again. Even after reading some of those issues many times, I am still finding new things which interest me. Sometimes I find my tastes have changed and I will fall in love with something I previously hated and vice versa! So I suppose for me, the end of Kera is a bit like losing an old friend. I guess now I will just have to cherish the issues I have kept and maybe if I see some pop up for sale I might consider buying them to add to my collection. I guess my advice for everyone would be to continue to support the other magazines which you love. This same situation could easily happen to other publications such as Larme or Otome No Sewing. Perhaps we need to cherish what we have while it is still around.

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