Pink and Pretty


Angelic Pretty, one of Japan’s top brands for Lolita fashion

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In the basement of Laforet Harajuku, the famous fashion building in Tokyo, a young woman is cheerfully trying on a soft pink coat. As she raises the hood over her head, two big rabbit ears pop up. She looks in the mirror and a shy but happy smile appears on her face.

The woman is shopping at the Angelic Pretty Head Shop right in the middle of Tokyo’s trendiest fashion district, Harajuku. Angelic Pretty is one of Japan’s most popular Lolita brands and was started in 2001. Before that it was called Pretty. The brand now has eight stores and also sells abroad, where it is fast becoming just as popular as it is in Japan.

So popular that Angelic Pretty’s French distributor, Boddywood, is actually holding an authentic Angelic Pretty tea party in Paris on July 6, while Wordpress has countless entries on Angelic Pretty.

60914-6786: Angelic Pretty Store Harajuku Tokyo
The Angelic Pretty store at Laforet Harajuku.

Lolita fashion is incredibly popular in Japan. “It comes in waves,” says Angelic Pretty designer Makiko Asano, better known as Maki. “It becomes popular, it fades away, then it becomes popular again. It has been like that for a long time now.”

60914-6790: Angelic Pretty Store Harajuku Tokyo
Angelic Pretty designer Maki.

Most of Angelic Pretty’s customers are between 15 and 30 years old, but junior high school students can also be occasionally seen in the store. It is not uncommon to see young women shopping with their mothers. “My mother wants to wear these clothes too, but is too shy,” an Angelic Pretty fan recently whispered into my ear.

60914-6797: Angelic Pretty Store Harajuku Tokyo
Angelic Pretty designer Asuka helps a customer try on a cute pink coat.

“The concept of the brand,” explains Maki, “is that of the princess you saw in picture books when you were small. Angelic Pretty is the store where you can transform yourself into a princess and become as pretty as an angel.”

The concept goes beyond clothes. Angelic Pretty for example regularly organizes tea parties (ochakai) all over Japan. “We have live music, we cheerfully chat and we eat cake,” explains Maki. The brand usually rents nicely decorated coffee shops for these events, which are attended by between 10 to 20 people. They are small intimate events where everybody has a chance to get to know each other.

60914-6807: Angelic Pretty Store Harajuku Tokyo
Angelic Pretty designer Makiko Asano (far left), a satisfied customer, a shop assistant and Asuka (far right) at the Angelic Pretty store at Laforet Harajuku.

Maki kind of happened into becoming a designer. “I entered the company as an illustrator. I always liked drawing and used to draw princesses a lot.”

When she was 15 she started making her own clothes. “I had no money, so I had to make them myself. I found that I really enjoyed making clothes.” Even so, she didn’t consider becoming a designer. “I wanted to become an illustrator.”

As it happened, Angelic Pretty was looking for an illustrator in 2003, and Maki applied for the job. Before she knew it, she became an Angelic Pretty Designer and also started to model the brand’s clothes. Among Angelic Pretty customers she is now very well-known and she has many fans.

Maki is Angelic Pretty’s second in-house designer. She was preceded by Asuka. Both of them started a blog last November, which is especially interesting because of its many photographs. For those who can’t read Japanese, there is an English translation on Visual Addicts. There is also a fan page for the two on myspace.

These days Angelic Pretty items can be conveniently bought online as well, so you don’t need to wait until your next trip to Japan to transform yourself into a princess!

Ramen Revolution did an interview with Maki (right) and Asuka in December 2008.

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

Those are really cute!!! i don’t know if they are too cute or not though haha. I think i might wear something like that. I love jackets with ears haha

Jun 9, 2009 (4867 days ago)

actually, i don’t really like the dresses but i love the coats and the shoes!!! AHH!

Jun 9, 2009 (4867 days ago)

Oh so cute! I remember seeing Maki in one of the Gothic & Lolita Bibles.

Jun 15, 2009 (4860 days ago)

I think she is in there quite often. The photographer for the Gothic & Lolita Bible often shoots right across the street from where Angelic Pretty has their main store. That is actually where I used to shoot, too and first met Maki, many years ago.

Kjeld Duits (author)
Jun 15, 2009 (4860 days ago)

I saw Angelic Pretty in Kyoto but my exchange group was leaving before the store could open, I live for lolita and to this day I still feel like crying at the memory. When I honeymoon in Japan I am going to Tokyooo! I wish to meet Maki & Asuka one day!

Jan 19, 2010 (4643 days ago)

I love seeing them talk about how they were wishing to open a store in the us… and now its a reality!!! ^^

Oct 11, 2011 (4013 days ago)

@Ellie: Glad we were one of the first to mention it! ^^

Kjeld Duits (author)
Oct 11, 2011 (4013 days ago)

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