"Lolita": Imaginative self and elusive consumption

Osmud Rahman, Liu Wing-Sun, Elita Lam, Chan Mong-Tai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Although the term "Lolita" originates from Vladimir Nabakov's novel Lolita (1955), the current Lolita subculture has no direct reference to this novel or with any sexual connotation. It is more about personal expression and manifestation. It is a form of escapism-a way of taking flight from adolescence or adulthood and returning to childhood. By wearing a childlike Lolita style in a fantasy setting, the wearer may enter into an imaginary world and momentarily remove her/himself from everyday reality. Lolita subculturists "wear more than one hat in life" and their lives are filled with performance, imagination, illusions, and even confusion. In order to understand this fluid, contingent, and contradictory identity, a research project was initiated to investigate the significance of this subculture in Hong Kong, with an emphasis on Lolita behaviors and attitudes in particular. In-depth interviews, virtual ethnography and daily observations were employed to uncover the underlying motives of those engaged in the Lolita subculture. According to this study, it is evident that today's young consumers are constantly searching for and constructing a personal and social identity through symbolic consumption. A Lolita style enables young people to achieve an image for which they would not be accepted in everyday life. In short, Lolita consumption is a great source of pleasure, exhilaration, and delight for many Lolita subculturists in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-27
Number of pages21
JournalFashion Theory - Journal of Dress Body and Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


  • Imaginative self
  • Lolita
  • Postmodernism
  • Subculture
  • Symbolic consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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