Bodyline takes center stage

Recently the much maligned Bodyline has become more and more popular among tried-and-true lolitas, for more than just petticoats and bloomers. In the past the brand was a laughingstock, the name considered synonymous with cheap lace and costume-like designs.

bodylineA recent major sale by the brand, however, led some people to give them another try– present party included. I personally purchased several items from Bodyline during the 50% off sale and was quite pleased with the quality for the price. For example, I got the skirt pictured here for only 1500yen (~$15US). It’s not the best-made thing I own, but it’s quite worth 1500 yen!
I also purchased a jumperskirt and was was happy to find that it was trimmed with soft cotton lace, and had no apparent major flaws.

However, one has to wonder about Bodyline– is it such a good thing? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting cute products for cheap, especially for beginner lolitas or old hands who would like to add some pieces for lounging around in. However, Bodyline has a history of ripping off other brands, sometimes more blatantly than others. Take, for example, these recent additions to Bodylines rakuten shop:
bodyline
The print on the skirt is an obvious reproduction of Angelic Pretty’s extremely popular “Fruit Parlor” (sometimes incorrectly translated as “Fruits Parlor”) series, which is pictured below.
AP

I am surprised by the reaction to these new items– at least, by the Western community. I’ve seen a lot of Japanese threads full of outrage, but most of the non-Japanese lolitas seem to find it an acceptable, cheap alternative to the original brands. I suppose this might be due to the fact that, with all fees and shipping included, buying brand from overseas is not only time-consuming and difficult, it is also significantly more expensive. Also, purchasing fake items– such as Secret Shop shoes (AP is certainly a frequent target for this sort of thing– is a common, well-known, and accepted fact within the Western lolita community.
In my opinion, I think people should only buy the knockoffs if they like the design of the knockoff, not because it looks like a brand item. If you want something that looks like Angelic Pretty’s Fruit Parlor, you should buy Angelic Pretty’s Fruit Parlor. If you think that this is a cute skirt, you should buy it for that reason, but not try to pass it off as the real deal.

These are pretty obvious fakes though; I have to wonder how people are going to feel while wearing them. Living in Japan I think I would be self-conscious about running into someone wearing the real deal; but I think even in America I would feel awkward about it.
But then, the irony of that is the skirt that I ordered, pictured above, is actually an Atelier Pierrot knockoff. Perhaps I feel less awkward about it because it is less obvious? Or maybe because I couldn’t wear the original design due to size issues… More grey area!

For all the stories that Western lolitas spread about Bodyline in Japan (I once heard a laughable tale about “real” lolitas standing outside of a Bodyline shop and lynching anyone who came out with a purchase in hand, which at least is an hilarious mental image before you have to admit that it is ridiculous), I think it’s more a source of embarrassment than anything else. Often you see girls caught in a Kera! Snap wearing a piece of Bodyline in their outfit, but never once have I actually seen it listed in their brand list– the item is usually simply referred to as “from Harajuku” or “I forgot”. While brand events have been known to put a “no Bodyline” clause into the invitations for parties with strict dress codes, I don’t think they’d go so far as to lynch anyone over it, either. Japan is too non-confrontational, as a whole, for people to actually be attacked for something like that; though they’ll probably be the stars of a malicious thread on an anonymous forum later on (kind of like the West, actually).

If anything, it just gives Bodyline more publicity. But if they are really trying to become a respectable brand, they need to carefully consider things like this. I think they may have seriously shot themselves in the foot; they’ll turn a quick profit on this, for sure, but they’ll loose some potential longterm customers in the process. …Well, maybe.
Personally, I can say that I lost what respect that I had gained for Bodyline– and I really HAD gained some, upon seeing the quality of the items I ordered. However, I still want to order some shoes from their site… even the most self-righteous lolita needs cheap shoes!

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19 responses to “Bodyline takes center stage

  1. I totally agree. We should buy something because we like it. I mean that’s the general reason we buy things, right.
    In general, where I come from, Knockoffs are so common and even the feeble mind won’t be able to tell them apart and get fooled by the seller downtown. Brands are important to an extent, but I think how someone dresses and puts themselves together is more of a bigger role. Well I can just say that LA is full of weird dressed people sometimes especially in the Hollywood and Sunset areas.

    About the whole embarrassment thing, I would be embarrassed to wear the fruit parlor to an AP store, obviously. Although lolita is not even THAT popular if not a minority within a minority. Most people won’t even know where the skirt comes from, so the fact that it can be hidden more is possible.
    I’m not saying this is all right, I do agree, if bodyline can probably hire graphic designers to make replicas, why can’t they use these same people to rather look up the prints and crate an even more fabulous print, or if they want to make a somewhat “inspired” replica, they could’ve changed the print somehow. Maybe, it didn’t have to be a repeating pattern but just maybe one parfait located on the side of the skirt with some other cute things. I mean they could’ve been more original.
    Personally, I’m interested in getting the IW knockoff because its adorable and I can’t find it in blue or pink anywhere (just the black one).

  2. Oh boo, I recently got a *lot* in the sale too [it’s not arrived yet, boooo] and I knew some of it was Meta rip offs, but since the Meta items are so hard to get right now + terribly expensive, [plus it’s a very generic design, not a special print, just floral] I figured “why the hell not?” – I liked the items. I don’t even know if it was Meta, because it’s so generic, it could very well have been one of the classic brands.

    Well, what I’m trying to say is… I agree with you. I generally live by the rule of not buying for ridiculous prices unless it’s a brand’s own print that I really like. I thought about it, and yes, AP’s Fruit Parlor is so rare and expensive right now, I wouldn’t ever get it for the price some people ask for it.
    You would think that a rip off is a good idea. Cheap, accessible…
    But then I thought about it again. Blatant art theft is just not cool, in my book. Generic designs, okay, that can happen – we think. You can only do so much with a skirt. I don’t think all the brands are saints either [in terms of design only] because one layer of ruffles, two layers of ruffles.. it’s hard to put a claim on something like that.
    Though prints? Those exact things that I said are the only things that I think really appeal to me in brands? [A simple black skirt with ruffles does not a unique brand piece make. – though specific prints are not “I can make this myself” material, so that’s what I’m talking about.] Those are the brand’s very own design, often with the name of the brand everywhere, custom made, specifically for one series, etc. I don’t think it’s acceptable to buy that or wear that. If you know about the real thing, you shouldn’t do it. It’s disrespectful to the designer.
    I know a lot of people in my environment wouldn’t know I was wearing a knockoff, and my wallet would be happier… but I think it’s not done. Okay, when something is totally not available anymore [in size, or in stock or even second-hand] one might consider it. But to just present such knock offs to the masses for cheap… I don’t know. It defeats the whole purpose of unique, special prints, no?

    I followed this link through EGL [http://rorikensho.web.fc2.com/kensho1/top.htm] and you can see the other designs Bodyline copied. I don’t think I’ll buy from them again :/

  3. Hi!

    I was thoroughly outraged by the blatant knock-offs lately. Before they had some respect and didn’t do it as obviously, and had gained a lot in quality it seems (I’ve never owned anything by them nor seen it in reality, but I’ve heard a lot about it from all the gazillion threads on EGL, and was considering buying things such as cutsews to fill out my wardrobe, but then they delivered this huge blow. I’m very happy I haven’t supported them!), but this time it has gotten out of hand. I sincerely hope the brands do something about it and don’t just sit there and drink their tea.

    It would’ve been more okay if they’d copied something that the brands usually do, such as the one coloured shirred jumper skirts and so on, instead of taking an original print series (it’s supposed to be original after all!)

    How the other Western lolitas are acting is very strange to me. I wrote a personal entry in my blog on the matter and a few said they agree with me, but it seems like nobody wants to stick their toes out in case somebody will come forth and say that they’re brandwhores and elitists and whatnot.

    I also wanted to ask you for links to the Japanese threads on this matter! I’ve been curious for a few days now.

    Thanks!

  4. I think the issue with Bodyline knock offs is sort of in a way silly, in that all of their designs are knock offs, or I always assumed they were. The Fruit Parlor issue isn’t big to me, because I don’t see how you could even imagine passing it off as AP, I wouldn’t dream of it. I think it’d be fun to own BOTH, wearing them for different reasons. Though in a way the print didn’t hugely appeal to me, so I might buy the Bodyline version, if I love it enough and actually get wear out of it, I might save for the real thing.

    I think it varies by the piece and the person. Myself I plan to do a Bodyline order with my next paycheck(my first paycheck for my job arrives this week and my spare money goes towards some basics from Anna House, and a gift of bloomers for my mother, mainly because she keeps saying she wants my Meta bloomers. So when I get my next paycheck in two weeks, I’m hitting up good ole BL for the first time.), to expand my wardrobe. I’m trying to flesh out my basics, and I like the idea of clothes I can wear without intense worry (about damaging expensive items). I am also a thrifty person who can’t bear to buy something not on sale, clearance, or second hand unless I am buying with a gift card.

    As far as the amount of cute clothes they have now, yes I think it has improved a ton, but I’ve been eyeing them for years. Of course I lusted after the Brands more, but Bodyline interested me too. My first dream dress was Bodyline funny enough, and it followed my still existing love for Lolita with little to no lace at all. (I like a bit of lace, but a dress that is cute without it? I am in love.) I don’t have an image of it anymore, but I lusted for it for years. I think the fact is they’ve always had a few gems, but now they have quite a few gems.

    The embarrassment issue… this may just be me, but I think the only time I would be nervous wearing Bodyline would be in Japan. Just because I think we all think, and it seems you confirm it is more poorly thought of there. Where as in the western community most people started there, some having horrible memories of their Ita days, other just amusement of haphazard outfits. I think also it is slowly becoming acceptable wardrobe filler. Allowing us to dare and wear something more dressy (or a different style than we normally do) for everyday (for those of us who didn’t already, or couldn’t afford to), because hell it only cost me 20$! I wouldn’t care if I wore Bodyline and ran into another Lolita, if she were in Brand or not. If she gave me a dirty look, I’d just shrug and laugh at how silly it all is. If the outfit is cute? Why care! But on the other hand I would hesitate to wear it in Japan like I said before. Not because I care more what they think of me personally (OMG JAPANLOLI ARE GOD!!!??!!), more so I would be afraid to contribute to a bad stereotype of western Lolita. It’s kind of silly, but if I went to Japan I would be very careful in Lolita, because I want to not be an annoying American. In America I don’t think anyone would look at a good Bodyline piece and think costume/fetish/cosplay (more so than any other Lolita item) just because it is Bodyline, because most wouldn’t know what Bodyline IS, let alone Lolita. Not that Bodyline is so famous in Japan, I guess. I feel sort of silly thinking this way, because to me caring what other people think of the label on my clothes irks me. When I was younger it was my whole concern, if I wore the right clothes, maybe people would accept me. Then I just said NO, I wear what I like, and I don’t care where I got it and who doesn’t like it. I don’t always succeed in feeling this way, but I try. Most of my friends gag when I proclaim my love for my Croc shoes, or my Gap jeans, or my Hot Topic t-shirts… But I like them. They fit me, make me comfortable. If I had a friend who frowned at Bodyline I would hope to feel the same way. It is my body, my money; I’ll damn well do as I please. (Please don’t misunderstand this as an argument that Lolita doesn’t need ‘rules’ or whatever. It is not, by any means.)

    In a way it’s a lot of fuss about nothing.

  5. I’ve also recently bought a couple of things from BL and I was satisfied with the quality for the price. I’ve started to take them a little more seriously (except their shipping costs which are very high to the UK!).

    I agree that it would have been a lot cooler if they had done an ‘inspired by’ look; then people would say ‘oh, is that bodyline?’ rather than ‘oh, is that the bodyline rip-off of x?’
    Its like they don’t want to further themselves as a brandname in their own right.

  6. Actually, Bodylines copies are the least of my concerns. Even when Bodyline did a blatant copy of the house handbag from IW, I just laughed. I love IW, I love the house handbag, but the copy looks so obviously cheap and fake I would never get it. If noone buys the obvious copies, Bodyline will be stuck with heaps of clothes that don’t sell and in the end they’ll just stop. No company wants non-profit.

  7. I think that before we all start freaking out about bodyline ripping off AP and all the other brands, I want to know why it is that we only really care when it’s bodyline using the same fabrics?

    With APs last release of clothing, their starry night fabric was used by both them, and two other brands. One of meta’s floral prints is exactly the same as one used by AP and IW.

    Not to mention, Btssb’s fabrics have been found in fabric stores – even the ones with the logo on them!

    There are only so many ways to make a skirt, so if bodyline just bought the fabric from the same source as AP and made your typical gathered skirt with it, I don’t really see much of an issue.

    They’ve done it with almost all of their designs – I think that the reason that people are in such a fuss right now is because it is one of the more popular lines, and it’s pretty obvious where the fabric came from.

    Anyway, I’m going to wait to pass judgement for when I see the new JSK they’re putting out with that fabric. If it looks identical to the AP one, then maybe I’ll have lost some respect for them (though, I don’t have much for them to begin with.) but otherwise, I’m just going to keep considering them a cheap brand knockoff site with cheap products. (Not to say I don’t like cheap , and there are a few things I intend on buying- but, well, that’s what it is.)

  8. not like I’ve ever owned anything from bl and I don’t think I will ( who knows? Maybe they’ll have something which really amaze me) but I just have this feeling about it. Going out in bodyline for drinking or like somewhere where you don’t want to wear your precious baby op its fine but going shopping in a bl is embarassing.
    Today I was passing iw (i live in Hiroshima ) when I just looked in and there was a girl wearing that alice printed one piece and I was like no! IF I’d own that dress I would never never never dare to go shopping in it! I would feel ashamed because simply everyone knows that its bl and you colud see the shopgirls glancing at her like “hey what are you wearing?”

  9. hi there!

    I agree with you, discussing about the reproduction of the print (such as in the fruit parlor), but the difference between Ap’s one and bodyline one is visible!
    I often buy stuff from bodyline because of size… the brand’s one would never fits me, except of the total shirring jsk (and sometimes none too), and so I’m obliged to buy things from or bodyline, or the others sites (for example anna house or f+f) who have the custom size… same thing for shoes, even if usually the L size or 2L size fits me ^^
    Usually I do not like to buy reproductions, I like to have cheap skirt to go to concerts, or just going out on saturday night.

  10. I live in England, near-ish to London, but in an area dominated by people wearing trainers, tracksuit bottims, denim jackets and huge gold hoop earrings. I haven’t been dressing in Lolita for long (well I liked it anyway but I didn’t know that the way I sometimes dressed was an actual fashion), but living here I’ve never met another Lolita, and nobody would ever know where your clothes came from. People just assume you’re either dressing like a doll for some strange unknown reason or some patriotic fool taken the English image too far. But people generally agree it looks pretty. The reason behind all this is, I have the freedom to do what others are too shy to: to wear what I think looks nice, and that often means getting things from charity shops and e-bay and putting them together in a way that reflects Lolita fashion and is even more unique because you can be sure no other Lolitas have the smae outfit. The point is, it’s not about where you’re buying it from, we follow this fashion to dress in a way we enjoy and reflect beauty and cuteness or elegance, and it’s unfair for people to slate others for not being “real” Lolitas because they don’t wear brand names, they wear random items from here and there brought together in a vision of creativity. =] Yes, it’s totally unfair to rip off another designer’s clothes, if you don’t know it’s a rip off, which is probably often the case with some of the things I own, then buying an affordable piece of clothing you love should be okay. =] x

  11. I’m relatively new to lolita fashion. I never knew Bodyline ripped off designs from AP until I saw AP’s tartan JSK and was like “ooh…Bodyline has something similar.” Bodyline offers cheaper alternatives for someone like me who cannot afford AP or Baby’s clothing. The only brand stuff I own are from Meta which are either bought second-hand or bought when the item was on sale. However, I have never taken Bodyline to replace any of the said lolita brands. In any case, Bodyline’s quality is still lower than that of the lolita brands. For example, my Meta JSK is lined on the underside, but not for my Bodyline JSK. And I do believe that one must own at least one OP/JSK/Skirt from a famous lolita brand to be known as a true blue lolita.

  12. i’m a new lolita (at least new cuz i’ve worn lolita outfits only twice, but i’ve been always a lolita inside) and i bought the fruit parlor skirt from BL and i found it awesome cuz i’ve never had a brand one in my hands S: what i REALLY hate is BL shipping methods. i can understand why they only ship via EMS (DHL now) but they don’t charge what they have to. when i received my order from they i realized that there wasn’t a “500g carton” as they said in the shopping cart and the price on my package was lower than what they charged me. when i asked them about it they said “sorry no exchange”. but i wasn’t asking for an exchange! i only wanted and explanation! i sent them another email and never got a reply. now they’re only shipping via DHL what is even more expensive ($43 for a pair of socks…)
    oh well, forgive me for my long rant XP

  13. I don’t own any brand items; everything that I have is self-made or bodyline. I need money for groceries, rent, and university.

    I love bodyline because it is affordable and some of the items are very nice. It would cost me a lot more money to buy the fabric and sew certain items, so I just purchase them from bodyline. I can’t afford to spend 200 dollars on an OP/JSK/Skirt from a *famous* lolita brand. I would rather spent 100 dollars on 2-3 pieces, and the rest of the money on food.

    That’s just my two cents 🙂

  14. thatsojason@gmail.com

    Aloha from Honolulu! I just wanted to say great job on this Web site and thanks for all the wonderful information on Lolita lifestyle. The photographs are great and make me feel homesick for Japan. I’m actually from Hawaii, born and raised, but I lived in Kyoto for a few years (1997-1999). I was a teacher on the Japan Exchange Teaching Program (JET Program). While I was living in Kyoto, I would make trip to Osaka to see wild, whimsical and technicolor street fashions of America-mura and Osaka-jo. Occasionally, I would get to see Lolitas that were straight out of the pages of my Fruits magazine, which I read for fun. Your Web site reminds me of all the wonder and fun of Japan I miss so much. I came across your site because I am finally planning a trip back to the Kansai Region. This time, I’m going back as a magazine writer and photographer. I am staying for a few days in Nagoya, your hometown. Would you say that Nagoya has lots of interesting people to photograph? Are there any cool events in June that I can take photographs at? I am kind of fascinated by the fashions that exist in Japan and I’d like to document my travel! As the resident expert on Nagoya, if you can make any suggestions for photo tour opportunities, I would be very grateful!

    Mahalo!
    Jason

  15. Well, I know I’m probably a few years and months late in joining this conversation. But I bought stuff from Bodyline around 2009 and they’re actually quite crowded (store wise) and no one actually critisize it as much as I think some people do. And honestly, being in China (the land of rippoffs haha) more than once, I know ripp off when I see it.

    But! Bodyline vs BTSSB and AP… this conflict is almost the same as comparing brandname jeans to that of cheap breakable jeans that people can get in Hottopic etc. I doubt people actually care all that much. And if Bodyline is supposedly “ripping off” other brands’ designs, wouldnt AP or BTSSB be all over Bodyline by now? (after more than 2 years later?)

    I think it’s more of a customers’ disagreement and their naive perception that “expensive is better”. Which in real life, it’s not always the case. I bought things from AP, BTSSB, as well as BL the year I visited Japan (and my cousin hehe) and I actually compared their qualities, which werent all that different… I mean there’s only a number of fabrics and styles to choose from. Maybe BTSSB and AP have their own fabrics but there’s not an infinite possibilities in making a dress for lolita…

    • I think that it’s more and more common for real lolitas to shop in Bodyline, especially for basic items like blouses and undergarments, but it still holds that you’re not allowed to wear Bodyline garments to AP tea parties and things like that. As for brands responding to Bodyline blatantly ripping off their designs and prints, the only brand I know of that has done so is Milky Ange, which used to (perhaps they still do) have a page that lists all of the designs that Bodyline has stolen from them. Counterfeit items are hugely popular in Japan, so I don’t think the overall opinion about it is the same as it is in other countries; you can get fake LV and Ferragamo anywhere, after all, right alongside the real deal. I think the issue with Bodyline in Japan is more that they market themselves as a “cosplay” store and produce a lot of cosplay-lolita items. Like their Western counterparts, Japanese lolitas are forever fighting the uphill battle of convincing people that lolita is a legitimate fashion and not a costume. Bodyline just makes it that much harder.

      As for quality, I have quite a few Bodyline items, and of course other brands; there is a rather noticeable difference in quality on a lot of items. The fabric on Bodyline’s items just isn’t as fine, and of course the lace isn’t. Their blacks tend to wash out over time and their dyes bleed occasionally. This isn’t to say I think they’re terrible– obviously I don’t, or I wouldn’t own anything from them. I just don’t think they’re in the same class as Baby or AP, and not just because they don’t have their own laces manufactured. Basically, you get what you pay for in that respect, even if I totally agree with your “expensive isn’t better” mentality. High cost doesn’t equal high quality, but the higher cost brand items are actually a higher quality in this instance. It’s just a matter of personal preference, whether or not it’s worth it for the person spending the money.

  16. If only I had a quarter for every time I came here! Superb read.

  17. I’m a new lolita but I live in Japan near Tokyo and the vast majority of the stuff I own is bodyline. Why? Because I plan to use my savings for my Masters degree as opposed to a brand name dress. I absolutely adore Innocent World stuff and will go there for accessories but I cannot really afford their clothes.

    I understand the problem regarding the quality, and here I have a big advantage over people over seas because I can actually go to the shop in Harajuku and check out the clothes myself. And speaking of the Harajuku store, it is hardly maligned in Takeshita. The queue is about 15 mins long on the weekend. The clientele is varied. Some are lolita, some are foreigners, some are more punk kids, some are there for the cosplay. Just last week there was a group of lolita girls (in clothes I did not recognise as bodyline) looking over their packages at the top of the steps.

    In the end, the success of the outfit depends on your taste. I have seen some really great outfits in Harajuku and I have seen some terrible ones. There are these two regular girls in Harajuku, who are fairly chubby, overly made up, with gigantic blonde or pink wigs, blinging jewellery and the ultra sweet pale blue and pink AP prints. They had all the brands, what they lacked is the taste to put it together well. On the other hand, I saw this girl gorgeously decked out in an Innocent World country lolita skirt and shirt with a straw boater.

    It’s all about figuring out what your budget is, what style suits you and how to put it together.

    • Of course lolita is all about how things are put together– no one will argue with that! And really the point I was trying to make is just that: cheap doesn’t mean bad, in any way, and if you’re saving for something else, Bodyline (and the taobao shops, which weren’t known by non-Chinese lolitas, that I know of, when I wrote this article) are a great option for girls who want to look cute on the cheap. In the 2+ years since I first published this article, Bodyline has produced some really cute stuff that is of much higher quality than their things in the past, but it’s also made some really… interesting… pieces as well. And not in a good way.

      Bodyline is still maligned in Japan among lolitas, make no mistake about that– for example, tea parties sponsored by brands still have a strict “no Bodyline” clause. But most of the time, who will know? Like I said even in this article, no one. It’s our little secret.
      For the record, at the time of writing this article, I was living in Nagoya; I lived in Nagoya and Osaka for a total of two years (and visited Tokyo several times) as a student and a teacher, so of course I visited Bodyline’s brick-and-mortar store and found nothing offensive about it… but I still would never walk down the street wearing Baby and carrying a Bodyline bag xD

      I’m not sure what your point is about the “chubby” girls in AP– they just sound like typical OTT sweet lolitas, which seems to just not be your taste. I haven’t seen the girls in question so I can’t say for sure, but as a new lolita you might not be aware of all the substyles yet. Just because you prefer classic doesn’t mean that sweet lolitas are doing it wrong!

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