(Or, Why are the AP Girls so MEAN?)
In Japan, as everyone knows, customer service is incredibly important and is rarely taken lightly. Because there’s really *not* that much competition as far as price undercutting is concerned, and also because of the importance placed on politeness in this society, you can expect to be treated like a queen when you walk into a Prada boutique– or into a McDonald’s. There are exceptions to every rule though, of course, and unfortunately, Angelic Pretty is a rather infamous exception to the rule of… well, good manners.
At first, shortly after I moved to Nagoya and started shopping at AP, I was treated quite well. There was one particular girl on staff who always greeted me (it’s pretty common for certain staff members to attach themselves to specific customers, and vice versa). Shortly thereafter, though, that girl disappeared, and staff interaction became worse and worse. I thought it was just me, or just foreigners; perhaps they were afraid we wouldn’t understand Japanese, or perhaps in their xenophobia they believed we didn’t know anything about lolita or Angelic Pretty as a brand. I appeared in their store several times in head-to-toe AP and was continually snubbed. Perhaps they were racist.
All of my non-Japanese lolita friends reported similar stories. We had trouble getting staff attention when we needed help, we were not welcomed upon walking into the store. One of my friends with a good understanding of Japanese overheard the shopgirls making fun of her while she was shopping. I personally have been told– TWICE– that I couldn’t reserve certain special items because they had already sold out in reservation, only to find out later that it was totally untrue.
I stuck with this notion of possible racism until meeting a new Lolita friend– this one an adorable Japanese girl, born and bred, the perfect size for Lolita clothing. When she told me that she was also treated rudely, I started to wonder who, exactly, they WERE nice to.
I can’t begin to explain this phenomenon, though. Some have suggested that it may be due to the large “gyaru” (or “gal”) clientèle that AP (almost exclusively among the brands) serves. Gyaru are widely perceived to be snobbish and rude, so at first glance, that might be a logical explanation. I don’t think that’s really the case, though. Regardless of how gyaru behave on the streets, even in actual gyaru shops, such as Liz Lisa and the notorious La Pafait, a customer can expect to be treated with an overabundance of generosity– even if it’s obviously an act, it’s still present. After all, even if the customer doesn’t LOOK like they would wear/fit/be suited to your clothing, doesn’t mean you can’t make money off them. So it’s not the gyaru issue.
Angelic Pretty’s popularity has skyrocketed as the forerunner for the ever more excessive sweet lolita style. Aside from raking in the cash on all of their sure-to-sell-out prints, these very limited pieces have given the brand a sort of prestige that might have resulted in this snobby attitude.
Or maybe they’re just bitches. Who knows?
Anyway, don’t let that stop you from visiting AP, really. Many people on vacation, only visiting the store once, report only good things about the brand, so it’s possible that problems would only arise after multiple trips to the same store. Personally, though, I’m quite sick of it, and haven’t bought anything from their boutique for myself in quite a while as a result.
But then I’ll admit, that’s also in part due to the fact that they’ve either not had anything I want, or they have but not in the color/price range I want it in….
I might be carrying this soon: