Ero-kawaii has always presented the fashion world with something of a problem, not least because Japanese fashion is actually very conservative on the whole, but mostly because the pre-existing ero-kawaii art and illustration scene comes laden with controversy and accusations of misogyny that even leaders of the field such as Aika Makoto can’t shake off. It is one of those situations where you end up defending the indefensible, if you claim that designers such as Rurumu (full report here) have some interesting points to make about gender and society through ero-kawaii elements in the work (which I do), you also have to accept some pretty dodgy stuff into your definition of fashion – and even those who walk the thin line well, such as Lady Spade, do cross the line on occasion to the point where it is hard to justify the whole as credible.
If that is the situation in Japan then it is a situation worsened ten fold the moment you take this kind of fashion abroad where people looking at normal Lolita fashion, nevermind ero-lolita fashion, see ageplay, and the overall perception of Japanese women remains stuck in something of a colonial bubble on the whole. Personally it makes it a topic I avoid unless the overall message is empowering as even if I put ero-kawaii fashion in the correct context, all is takes is a reblog on tumblr of a single image to strip it of its context and then suddenly we are perpetuating stereotypes once again.
That is precisely why I am such an advocate of Keisuke Kanda, Mikio Sakabe and newcomers such as Otona Toy (report coming soon) who handle the same issues without the potential for sexualization that inherently come from the ero-kawaii genre. That means there is a whole lot that won’t see the light of day, from strip fashion shows by h.Naoto to some of the racier work from Chaos Lounge, regrettably we just aren’t ready for it yet.