To brand or not to brand

That is the question

Brand name Lolita is coveted, beloved, and overall more attractive and, let’s say, authentic feeling.  All of the latest prints, styles and colors come out through brand-name Lolita designers. The only problem is: How do you come up with that kind of cash on time? This is a small, casual and semi-brief guide for Lolita who are new, just getting started or don’t know where to start! Seniors are welcome to give feedback or input as they see fit.  ;186

Brand name Lolita tends to be on the more exclusive side with only a limited number of OPs, JSKs, skirts and matching accessories in certain prints being made. Each can cost you up to $300+. hk_omg2 (Course by now, most of you aren’t  or shouldn’t be too phased by this.) Many lolita prefer brand and are willing to just about anything to get their frilly little hands on prints that pique their interest the most. (Mine being Metamorphose’s Swan Lake in Black or Wine & Angelic Pretty’s Moon Night Story purse in lavender. hk_blink )

Getting that coveted item may or may not be worth it.

These days, money is getting harder and harder to come by. Especially, for the U.S. lolis. Jobs are harder to come by and when we do come by them, they don’t pay very much. So, beyond saving for a million years, what can you do to get that dream dress? Buy a replica? Look around on eBay? Or maybe, post a !WTB or find a !DS/!DT (If you have some thing to offer in return) on the EGL community sales. There’s lots of options for lolita, especially those of us on a budget. Let’s get started with the ho-down:

Buying direct:

If you managed to save up enough monopoly money and are unsure of buying second-hand or are not comfortable with it, you should buy direct. There are plenty of shopping services and in fact, some of the Brand stores will ship Overseas. Best to check their policies on this first. (Most have some form of English translation; If not, Google Translate for a rough translation, or ask a friend who might know; or better yet, check the memories section on EGL. It’s chock full of info such as this.)

Buying second-hand

When you buy second-hand, you need to take into account that the dress you buy, may or may not be in absolutely perfect condition. It won’t be an absolute train wreck, but you should not expect it to be perfectly new looking. We have all dropped food or drink on our dresses at one point in time so, expect perhaps tiny stains that the cleaner or laundry just couldn’t remove.  Never the less, this is still a great way to get that dream dress, at a low price.

Here’s a few places you can buy second hand  ;16 (May or may not require shopping service):

Ok! So there’s our name brand options.  Any direct sites can easily be googled and accessed. If anyone needs a list of shopping services which are well known and used in the EGL community, ask; I’ll be more than willing to provide one for you. hk_peace

Now that I’ve got my brand dress, I want more. I couldn’t possibly afford to do this all the time! Is there anything else?

At this point, you’re probably happy enough with your brand dress that you could live off it alone.  I know the feeling, however, you cannot draw a wardrobe on one dress alone. If you plan on doing this for more than super casual lolita, you’re going to need to thoroughly build your wardrobe. This can be expensive if you let it, but there’s lots of ways to get a lovely and frilly wardrobe without breaking the bank. (Well, not too much anyways. ;100 )

Let’s talk about Off-brand. Yes, OFF-BRAND. No, no, there’s no mistake.

O F F – B R A N D

This word alone scares a lot of new lolita who fear being shunned by their fellow lolita.  Don’t lie, you probably have sneered at a girl once or twice for not wearing name-brand or for “doing it wrong” as many lolita say. You may not do it now, or in the future. When your first started out, though, is probably a whole ‘nother story. (But, we’re not here to point fingers. ;290 )We’ve  seen these poor girls branded as poor, sloppy or worse; ita. I’ve had girls, who interested in the fashion but would never wear themselves, ask me if what I was wearing was brand as if it were critical to even classify me as a Lolita. I openly admit that I do not own a single brand name item. This does not make me an ita, poor, or does it mean I am “doing it wrong”. We all own, or have owned an indie dress or “worse” a Body Line dress. ;105 OMG NO WAI. Way. It’s not actually frowned upon as much as it once may have, but it’s during certain occasions (Brand tea-parties for example) unacceptable.

Off…brand? What exactly constitutes off brand and how can I avoid poor quality?
Off-brand is anything that does not belong to any specific Japanese name brand of Lolita. In fact, it applies to all walks of fashion, but we’re not talking about that. hk_dance Some of the most well known off-brand “brands” or companies are:

  • Fan Plus Friend
  • KidsYoYo
  • BODYLINE
  • Anna House
  • Rose Melody
  • Dear CELINE
  • INFANTA
  • Secret Shop
  • Momo & Jia
  • Dream of Lolita

(If you need a link list to any of these sellers, please let me know. Some you may or may not have to use a shopping service. Many of the TaoBao shops require a service OR! You can find them via Qutieland.com which, despite the splash, is a functional, reliable shop site that directly interacts with the sellers to provide quality off-brand dresses and products.)

Replication or totally indie?

We all know that China is all about quantity over quality, it’s cheap and people will pay for it. In the case of Lolita, this is still sometimes true. However, there are many manufacturers and sellers who go above and beyond replication and off-branding dresses. For example, a great AP replicator is KidsYoYo. In one EGL review This Merry Go Round JSK was compared side-by-side to the real print from Angelic Pretty. Other than a few small details (Non-leather saddle piece and the pompoms had to be changed colors to match) the dress was nearly an exact match.

If the idea of replication repulses you and makes you feel like you’re cheating the system, you can always go with someone like Dear CELINE or INFANTA, or even FanPlusFriend. While both these companies replicate as well, they also have their own unique pieces to offer you as well.

Good and bad quality? How can I tell?

It’s always hard to judge good quality from bad, this is especially true over the internet. Things can easily be skimmed over, or research can go ignored or un-searched.  So, in order to maintain faith in ever ordering quality Lolita online,  you can take the following steps:

  • Pick out a few shops
  • Check their reviews on the EGL community as they have the largest review database of Lolita shops around.
  • Do they have their own images or did they steal stock photos?
  • Read their policies; do they seem fair to you? Are they even comprehensible?
  • Study the photos as hard as you can and if need be research the shop on EGL. If no info turns up, feel free to ask. BUT!! Make sure you HAVE checked the memories and thoroughly searched. EGL does not enjoy repeat questions.
  • Study the potential quality of the fabric. Does the print seem fuzzy or pixelly?
  • Study the lace!!! Is there excessive amounts of it? Cheap lace? Does the lace look sturdy?
  • Is the dress made of cotton? Heavy cotton, and broadcloth dresses are typically higher quality than cheap satin (SHINYYYYY), or slippery polyester.
  • Find out if the dresses are true to color because if one thing makes an off-brand purchase undesirable, it’s the lack of true-ness to the pictured color.

This isn’t as hard as it looks. A little time consuming, but in the end you’ll be happier with your off-brand purchase.  :D

In the end, either or is going to build you a lovely Lolita wardrobe that’ll be as welcome in the community as cookies and milk on a Sunday morning. What the community recognizes is well-put together coordination, color schemes and the willingness to be unique and show something new: a unique way of putting together your personification of Lolita. Brand name or not.