Thursday, 22 October 2015

Goth is Dead: The End of Moi-même-Moitié

Mana-sama bless this long-ass post.

I’d been planning on writing a blog entry about this for a while. This document had been sitting half-finished on my desktop for weeks until I had a conversation with some other nostalgic Moitié fans. Brace yourself, it’s a long one.

Gothic lolita isn’t dead yet, but it’s definitely on life support. The slow death of Moitié (and gothic lolita in general) reminds me of what’s currently happening in the goth scene.
As any real goth would tell you, goth is dead. The heyday of goth is long gone – most people have moved onto a new scene, leaving behind an ever-shrinking number of hardcore (and rapidly ageing) devotees. The younger newcomers to the scene are starting to redefine what it means to be a goth, causing splintering within the subculture. 

Admittedly, I don’t know jack about Japan, but I don’t think that Mana or Moitié (or gothic lolita/aristocrat/visual kei music and fashion) are as influential and popular anymore. There’s still a base of hardcore older fans but there’s not much new blood coming in.  
Plenty of Japanese gothic brands have disappeared or wound down – BPN is a good example (RIP). Outside of the usual suspects – Atelier Boz, Atelier Pierrot, Moitié, h. Naoto, and a few small Japanese indie brands – gothic is pretty much nonexistent.

People just aren’t really interested in goth anymore…even though old school is starting to come back, old school gothic is pretty much nonexistent on this side of the pond. I hear that in Europe, especially Germany and France, gothic lolita has maintained a strong presence. I’d probably attribute that to the fact that goth subculture and schwarze szhene in general are much bigger in Europe, since almost all of the big-name bands, stores, and festivals are based there. Wave Gotik Treffen, Whitby Goth Weekend, and M’era Luna are still on my bucket list.

Online, many of the coords I see that are described as gothic aren’t very gothic at all…they’re usually sweet with a gothic motif, or classic coords that capture the elegance/opulence of gothic but not the…well, gothic part. Or you’ll see coords that are kuro sweet marked as gothic just because they’re black. I guess people forgot that gothic lolita goes beyond wearing black (just like with proper goths!) and has more to do with cuts, fabrics, motifs, etc. 

Cute af.

I’m not trying to bash on that at all – for instance, the black Holy Lantern zippered JSK is one of my dream items. It’s a perfect example of sweet with a dash of gothic. I cried a little when I saw that the MTO release didn’t include this colourway, and my wallet sighed with relief. But overall, it seems like the original spirit of gothic is being lost and replaced with hybrids of sweet-gothic or classic-gothic. So, where does that leave Moitié?

For the past couple of years, Moitié seems to have been running out of steam. The indidivual brand stores have closed as far as I know, so they’re only sold online and in other retail shops or catalogs. A lot of people have expressed that they’re disappointed in the newer releases, and I almost never see any hype over them. It’s pretty rare to see someone wearing Moitié that’s not one of their old classical prints.

Back in the early 2000s when I was a fledgling babybat goth weeb, I was hooked on anything and everything Mana: Malice Mizer, Moi dix Mois, and Moitié. Mana inspired my interest in EGL/EGA.  To this day I’m still a huge fan – I buy the merch and I try to buy new whenever I can afford to. I even dyed my hair royal blue to match my coords! 

Moitié is probably being held up by the hardcore fans who buy everything they possibly can and go to every Moi dix Mois concert. Sometimes I buy stuff directly from them, but as much as I love Moitié I can’t always justify spending $300-500 on a single item when I have student loans and car payments, you know? 

The secondhand market is a mixed bag – the classic prints are still incredibly expensive despite their age, but a lot of non-print stuff is reasonably priced and I’ve found some great nonprint pieces for under 10k yen. Lacemarket has pages and pages of beautiful items sitting unsold. I remember seeing a black x blue Silent Moon OP for $150 on Lacemarket just sitting there unsold for weeks and weeks. Same story on Japanese sites – it’s just not selling the way it used to. So even though there are plenty of affordable older gothic pieces out there, people don’t want it.

On a side note, I feel like Iron Gate has become a status item rather than a piece that people buy out of love. Royal Gate is relatively inexpensive and in my opinion, it’s even more beautiful and luxurious than Iron Gate. The prints are extremely similar, but I think people just want to be able to say they own a rare, valuable dress. I dunno, maybe I’m just being a salty-chan because I still don’t have IG.

Écailles de Lune, kicking ass as usual.
On a more hopeful note…I think that the sudden explosion of lolita in China might revive gothic. Even if Japanese brands aren’t really interested in making gothic lolita and aristocrat stuff anymore, Taobao brands like Ista Mori and Écailles de Lune are absolutely killing it with new releases. These releases are more affordable than Japanese brands and have a wider range of sizing (a common complaint with older gothic pieces) so I hope that the Chinese brands can revive the true spirit of gothic once Moitié kicks the bucket for good.

Until then…


  1. It's kind of sad to watch Moitie disappear but then again I don't actually buy anything from them because it's just a little too expensive. I really love the St.Peter's cross dress they recently released. But I don't love it ¥36000 much. And the inflated second hand market isn't helping.

    1. Haha, I was eyeing that dress as well but I wasn't feeling the price tag. I haven't seen it for sale on secondhand markets yet, so I guess everyone felt the same way we did too :P

      The secondhand market is pretty ridiculous anyway, I see people trying to sell raggedy stuff that's 5+ years old for close to retail. Give me a break!

  2. I'm in Japan right now, so maybe I can shed a little light on this subject. Goth in Japan (both the Gothic & Lolita version, and the "western goth" version) is still alive. Lolita brands are still heavily associated with goth/punk brands, and I've seen lolitas at goth events too. Visual kei is wildly alive, much more than I could have imagined. It's not popular or mainstream, but does have a fresh and lively subculture surrounding it.

    In the US, all of this is completely and utterly dead. Nobody is into Visual anymore, or the "gothic" part of "Gothic & Lolita" anymore. I went to an h.Naoto panel at a major anime convention last spring and there were maybe 10 other people in this giant room that had been anticipating a hundred or so. It was embarrassing. When my partner went to BtSSB San Francisco earlier this year, and asked the shop girls if anyone nearby carried Atelier Boz, they were like "Bows? Like a bow and arrow???"

    Goth and Visual kei are a lot more popular in Osaka than in Tokyo. There are more shops and the shops are larger, with more variety. I also see at least one person wearing one of these styles every time I go out in Tokyo. Actually, because these styles are SO DEAD in the US, I was really worried that I wouldn't find what I was looking for on this trip, but I was pleasantly surprised.

    I was sad that I wasn't able to find a moitie store; I didn't realize they'd all closed down. I wonder if this is due to lack of interest, or due to a personal choice of Mana's. There is still enough of a demand for gothic lolita (nothing close to what it used to be in 2000, but still enough to sell, I think?), and moitie is still fairly popular. Kera Shop, which sells a mix of brands, carries moitie, and Closet Child Shinjuku just hosted a sale this month boasting increased stock for moitie and alice auaa.

    I don't really keep up on lolita news though, or on the second-hand market. I hope my observations are helpful anyway.

    "Online, many of the coords I see that are described as gothic aren’t very gothic at all…" YESSS to this whole paragraph! I say these same things ALL THE TIME.

    1. Awesome to hear from someone who has firsthand experience in Japan! I'm glad that it's still alive and well over there even if it has quieted down. Regular old western goth and vkei/gothic lolita is extremely dead here (Canada) so I'm pleasantly surprised that it's not the case in Japan too.

      That's so sad about the h.Naoto panel. They probably won't return after an experience like that, lol...

      I'm not sure why all the Moitie shops closed down. I heard rumours that the brand wasn't doing very well financially so they moved over to Kera Shop and places like that, but it was just hearsay.