Once again, I spent Memorial Day weekend in San Jose for Fanime Con! This event report is going to be a little different than last year’s event reports for Fanime because for the first time, I was staff for the j-fashion department! This department is only it’s second year, so there has been a lot of learning as we figure out what kinds of events our attendees want to see and how our staff can run them best.
Fanime 2023 had two fashion shows. The Elegant Fashion on Saturday featured styles such as lolita fashion, EGL, EGA, ouji, otome, or natural kei. This show featured 9 designers with more than 60 looks! These shows are run by Mindy (mintypile) with support from the whole j-fashion department. Making sure that 60 people arrive on time, change into close, take photos, and walk down a runway requires a ton of coordination, but by all account it sounds like not only did everyone look great, but they had a great time doing it.
I have quite a bit to say about the Elegant fashion show, so it’s going to get it’s own blog post. Stayed tuned!
On Sunday, the J-fashion department hosted the Pop! show, which featured styles like fairy kei, decora, gyaru, and menhera. This fashion featured 6 designers and around 30 looks. Unfortunately, I was working during the entire show at the info desk, so I can’t give a detailed run down of how the show went. I can tell you that we had a line to get into the fashion show starting at 1 pm for a show that opened at 2 pm! Both shows had tremendous audience interest, and we’re already brainstorming how to let more people enjoy them next year.
In addition to hosting designers on the runway, the J-fashion department held a “trunk show”, where designers sold their pieces to the general public. The trunk show held an astounding 18 designers (which was actually probably more than that because Flores Astorum had tons of Japanese indie brands as part of their stock). The designers including kawaii styles of all kinds, and the selection ranged from inexpensive accessories to elaborate main pieces. The trunk show had two dressing rooms, so potential buyers could try on their pieces before they took them home. I fell victim to the trunk show’s siren song and went home with a cutsew and socks from the Black Ribbon, a rosette from Mossbadger, and a main piece from Cloudberry Lady. Sadly, someone else bought the matching bonnet before I got there.
Community Fashion Walk and Handmade Coordinate Contest
The community fashion walk is meant to be a low key way to show off j-fashion that people are actually wearing around the convention. While many of the staff are heavily into lolita fashion, we’re always excited to see other styles! We also had some of the amazing Fanime photographers document the event, which meant that our participants were able to get great shots of their coordinates.
The handmade coordinate contest had some seriously creative entries. The contest was judged by two of the participating designers, Halley of the Black Ribbon and Jordana of Mossbadger. Ultimately, our judges needed a little more time than expected to determine their winners, which meant that the j-fashion staff had to do a lap on the stage to give them a little longer to decide.
Because I’m chronically incapable of saying no, I ended up doing 3 panels over the course of the week, each with a different person. On Friday, Seams-Witch and I did a panel all about sending and receiving mail. Tina’s original memes and deep knowledge of postal logistics were seriously impressive and I’m so glad that she agreed to let me contribute in some small way.
On Friday night, Obsixwi and I did a “Print-o-Rama” panel, where the audience suggested and then drew a truly spectacular print for a lolita dress. We had some actual artists in the audience, so we were afraid that we might get a half way decent print. Fortunately, between our unhinged audience suggestions (which included Febreeze and peanut butter) and a mediocre touch screen tablet, our print turned out exactly as chaotic as we hoped.
Finally, on Sunday, Kelp and I did a panel about the real life fashions that inspired anime character designs. Kelp has been wearing j-fashion for much longer than I have and also actually lived and studied in Japan, so her knowledge was truly humbling. We also had the amazing experience of getting to meet some beginner j-fashion fans who had way more questions than we could possible answer in our panel time. I was really glad that I was able to point them in the direction of some resources, which hopefully sparks a deep love of Japanese alternative fashion!
Because of my work schedule, I didn’t get a chance to pop into many other panels. I did have a chance to pop into Plentiful Pie’s Posing Panel, which was a great way to brush up on some new skills before the fashion show. Even if you’re not modeling, it’s an excellent instructional panel!
The j-fashion team saw my deep love of board games and promptly made it my job to ensure that we had a casual social event on Sunday night. Since I love both board games and lolita fashion, this was not a difficult task. We had all kinds of people stop by to play some games, including some non j-fashion fans who were just looking for a nice place to hang out for a little while.
While I brought more than 10 games, the crowd favorites were two very similar party games. Superfight is a game about building fighters and having them battle, arguing why your fighter is clearly the best for the job. Many of the people didn’t know each other well, but that didn’t stop them from getting into impassioned debates about why Dalmations would/wouldn’t be affected by a fighter who can control hair.
The other game that proved immensely popular was brought by our very own guest of honor, Jordana of Mossbadger. She modified her Cards Against Humanity deck, pulling out unfunny cards and adding in some truly “inside baseball” lolita specific cards. At one point, the game swelled to include 3 of our j-fashion vendors, multiple attendees, and friends and partners. Lolitas howled with laughter and struggled to explain why “This ______ will be your friend now.” being answered by “Cabbage” was so funny to the uninitiated.
To everyone who came and enjoyed this weekend in any way: thank you from the bottom of my heart. This was a huge undertaking but it would not happen if we didn’t have panelists, models, event hosts, and attendees. If you have any feedback for us, please let Fanime know! They’ll pass it on to us. If there’s other events you’d like to see, we’d also appreciate any suggestions you have.
When I wasn’t doing a specific active that I signed up for, I was helping out with whatever the j-fashion department was doing at that moment. I felt like I didn’t stop moving until about 10 pm every night, and woke up before 8 every morning to get the day going. By the end of the weekend, I was so tired but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Because I was part of staff, I had the chance to spend time with all the j-fashion department staff who are seriously dedicated people.
It wasn’t all hard work though. We took time to have some fun too.
Staffing was a new way for me to experience a convention, and while it didn’t allow me total freedom, I enjoyed how close it brought me to the parts of Fanime I cared about the most.
There’s no doubt that the J-fashion department generated a ton of interest in just it’s second year at Fanime. It was exciting (and chaotic) to be part of the team to be part of the team that helped pull it all together. If you attended and you have any thoughts to share, Fanime would love to hear them (and they’ll pass them on to us).