Category Archives: brand

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!

Fall 08

So after perusing the 30th volume of the Gothic & Lolita Bible, out today, I started thinking about the fall season from the brands.

metaPeople seem to always polarize their opinions about everything– they either really really love it or absolutely hate it. I’m feeling this especially with Metamorphose this season– almost every lolita I know feels strongly one way or the other. Honestly though, I’m neither extremely impressed nor disappointed (except with the raschel lace Swan Border pieces, which I have a deep distaste for). The school series is playing it safe, in particular.

Angelic Pretty, recently the constant center of attention, really delivered with the Fancy Melody series. I wish I’d acted quick enough to snag the black jumperskirt! I’m really regretting it now that the series is in stores. It’s amazingly cute. The Royal Poodle line is on reserve now, and the blue x silver socks and jumper sold out withing the first two days, so it’s definitely going to be a hit. I like it a lot. If the skirt would fit me I’d be all over it!

babyI was mostly excited about the GLB because I was hoping for better pictures of the Rococo Accessories print (ロココ小物柄). It didn’t really deliver on that, unfortunately. And all I can share with you is an even blurrier, tinier picture of the magazine article! That’s kind of sad…
Anyway though, the print appears to have all sorts of delightful things in it: parasols, fans, perfume bottles. It’s just adorable in my opinion. And I love the violet-ish color with bright accents. It really does scream Marie Antoinette! It’s so decadent.
candlesPersonally I’d like something a little more elegant/adult this season (maybe I’m starting to feel my age… noooooo!), and Baby’s “Rose Candle” onepiece is all of that and then some. I saw the skirt during a sample exhibition at Passe, and fell in love instantly, but Baby’s skirts have much too small of waists for me. This OP will probably turn out too small, as well, because Baby’s sizes rarely end up being what they initially guess for magazines. I think that it looks perfect in this coordination though. Perfect shoes, perfect hair, perfect everything!

Recently I’ve been drawn to brands I don’t pay much attention to; for example the indie brand Chantilly. I’ve seen their bonnets and a few other pieces at the Angelic Pretty here in Nagoya before, and they always seem impeccably made, but I never much noticed anything else about them. In this month’s Kera, which has some photos from the fashion show in France last month, I spotted a darling jsk that I’m just dying to have, black with big lace roses.
I also really really love this upcoming skirt/blouse combination from Mille Fleurs. It’s so ridiculous and over the top! If only it would fit me, I’d.. probably not be able to afford it anyway! Oh well. It’s lovely to look at.
It seems that their site hasn’t been updated in quite a while, though. I really wish some brands would stay on the ball. But I guess if you have a very small business, just keeping your blog updated might be enough. I’m not sure how… but maybe it is.
mille

As for coats, I think everyone is performing brilliantly there. Baby’s are perhaps a bit safe, AP’s appliqués are kooky as ever (though their normal coats and the trench coat currently in reserve are all fabulous), Victorian Maiden’s are to die for… but then, I’m a coat person.

At any rate, that’s my few cents on the Autumn releases from the brands… well, some of them! While it’s on my mind, I’m not too pleased with IW, either. I think they’ve been trying pretty desperately lately to do something ultra cute, but somehow they always seem to miss their mark. They should stick to making elegant and regal pieces, and leave the teddy bear prints to AP. You can’t really pull off stuffed animals in a print using dusty, mature colors, in my opinion.
I was also interested to note that this issue of the GLB is kind of lacking in the over-the-top deco goodness of recent times. Is the wearing-a-parfait trend finally dying out? I hope not… because that will mean I’m fashion-backward!

Ask not what you can do for your brand (4)

I didn’t realize that I had totally forgotten to talk about point cards! Which is funny, because they’re ever-present for a lolita shopper (or any shopper!) in Japan.

cards

Point cards are not only a way to earn incentives for spending money at a particular shop, they’re a sort of status symbol as well (they also have the unfortunate side effect of being a tangible gauge for how much you have spent on new merchandise). Generally you aren’t offered a point card until you have shopped at a particular brand several times, unless you buy a substantial amount the first time you go. I’ve never tried asking for a point card at a lolita brand shop, but I imagine they wouldn’t say no to you; I’ve asked in any number of other stores and been favourably received, though most places want you to get a point card the very first time you buy something.

You usually get one point per a specified amount of money spent at the store; for example, Angelic Pretty is 1 point per 3000 yen, and Baby is 1 point per 5250. Innocent World is the “most expensive”, so to speak, card that I have, with each point a steep 10,000 yen. The number of points required before you reach the goal also depends on the brand, usually between 15 and 20, sometimes as many as 30. The prize that you’re working toward is that the cards become coupons once they’re filled up– again, each brand is a little different, but for example AP’s cards are worth 3000 yen off of any amount, while Baby’s are worth 3000 off any purchase that costs more than 6000; Meta’s is a great deal: 5000 yen off any purchase plus a novelty item. In some cases, if you’re lucky enough to have a full or close-to-full card, brands will have novelty fairs wherein you can exchange your card for limited edition items instead of cash off.
Personally I think AP’s cards are the most customer-friendly– most brands give no credit for amounts that do not total up to a full point (several times I’ve been chagrined to discover that I am a few hundred yen short of another point at Baby), but AP simply writes the excess amount on the card and that’s added to your next visit’s total, so you never lose out. For once AP is on the customer’s side!

I also have to admit that point cards sometimes give me a bit of an elite feeling. My Baby card, for example, has a lovely number 4 written in a large block on the top of it, meaning that I’ve filled 3 full cards already. A card like that earns a little nicer treatment from the staff of any Baby shop when they see it. (Being a regular customer in Nagoya of course warrants a high level of customer care, but in stores where I’m not known, the little card says: I understand and love this style and am a loyal customer.)

Personally I think point cards are a great little benefit, especially for such an expensive fashion as lolita; but actually you can get point cards anywhere– from Tower Records to the discount cosmetics shops to the consignment shops! It’s fun to rack up points but for people like me, I tend to want to spend a little extra to make sure I always get the most points possible… it’s dangerous!

Angelic Ugly

(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.

Evil Pink
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:
boston bag
*sigh*