The reasons behind this boycott
Recent events have revealed problems for lolitas in the U.S., particularly related to Anime Matsuri and John and Deneice Leigh. For years they have sought to control American lolitas, and are now trying to gain influence in international communities as well. Their tactics have included bullying, bribing, and manipulating young women with the intention to incite animosity and promote their own business, the Anime Matsuri convention. They have also mistreated Japanese lolita designers and models who have been invited to their events, such as denying these guests access to food, translators, and guidance in foreign countries. Many lolitas have revealed that John Leigh has harassed them; these allegations include aggressive sexual questions and insults directed at young girls. John and Deneice Leigh use their powers as Japanese Lolita Association (JLA) Kawaii Ambassadors / Managers to influence lolita culture in negative ways, such as fostering jealousy, anger, and fighting among communities.
They promised free admission to another Convention (Delta H Con) to people who attended a concert they put on at a street festival (without the approval of that other convention). They borrowed $50,000 from an employee of theirs to start the convention (to cover the venue costs), with a promise that they would pay it by September 2007. They have not yet started paying him back. They also did not fully pay the bill for the venue until 2013. They convinced the same employee to purchase a $36,000 car as a show piece to get into the Japanese custom car show market, which the owners of Anime Matsuri drove as a personal car at one point. And finally, the convinced him to give them $10,000 to bring in a singer, who’s bill they also didn’t fully pay. There are multiple instances of them being sued for unpaid bills in the same article.
They scheduled a competing event at the same time as the indie brand-featuring event Nightfall in 2015 (scheduled for the day before Anime Matsuri was set to start), made the competing event free, brought in a few of their guests early for it, and then told the Anime Matsuri fashion show models (unpaid volunteers) and the JLA Kawaii Ambassadors (also unpaid volunteers) they were not permitted to attend Nightfall. Essentially, they used their position as heads of Anime Matsuri and JLA managers to blackmail lolita into not attending an event.
This is especially problematic when you look at the goals of the JLA (jlolita.org). The JLA lists their goals as:
- ロリータニュースの発信 (Sending out Lolita News)
- 全世界のかわいい大使の募集と任命 (Recruitment and Appointment of JLA Kawaii Ambassadors)
- お茶会の実施 (Setting Up Tea Parties)
- ロリータブランドやお茶会かカフェの募集 (Recruitment of Lolita Brands & Cafes for Hosting Tea Parties)
- 会員の情報交換 (Member Information Exchange)
- 学校及び教育機関の募集と任命 (Recruitment / Appointment of Schools and Educational Institutions)
That last one has to do with the idea of getting more students / exchange students to attend a lolita fashion design major program at a Japanese college that is a sponsor of the association. People who study lolita fashion design in Japan, or elsewhere, have two options in the lolita fashion industry. They can either work for an established brand, or they can start their own indie brand. Either way, it’s counter productive to this goal to intentionally try to keep people from attending an indie brand featuring event.
It has become abundantly clear that Anime Matsuri and its owner’s are focused on turning a profit, and not on building the community, or promoting Japanese lolita fashion (aside from when it’s profitable for them).
Lolita is a niche fashion. While there are many lolita out there, we are still relatively a small group. Predatory businesses that enter our community with the goal of making money at any cost do more harm than good to the community. While there are benefits to working with a large anime convention when it comes to bringing guests overseas, it’s not worthwhile when it comes at the expense of our safety, our security, and our freedom to attend events we want to attend. Our celebrities are people, and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not neglected and denied access to food, or forced to fend for themselves in a foreign country without a translator.
We feel that Anime Matsuri has done harm to the lolita community, and will continue to do harm to the community. To attend their events, is to say that we support their misbehavior, that it is ok for the people we admire to be mistreated. We do not feel that this is acceptable.
Because of this, we are boycotting Anime Matsuri.
We will not attend their convention.
We will not attend their satellite events.
We will not accept their sponsorship of our own events.
We will not invite them into our communities to appoint JLA Ambassadors that are mere figureheads for Anime Matsuri to use to turn a profit, corrupting the goals of the organization which initially sought to unite the lolita community.
And we will not silently sit by and let them dictate our access to our celebrities in our fashion.