In this part I’m going to talk about fukubukuro (福袋), widely known as “lucky packs” in the Western world. Like novelty fairs and sales, fukubukuro sales occur for several occasions, and also like fairs and sales, they can depend on the specific shop or be nationwide.
Some brands release “special sets” along with their “lucky packs”– these aren’t really fukubukuro because you know the contents and the value of said contents before purchasing. Regardless, most people think of special sets as being a kind of lucky pack– maybe because they come in big bags too? I don’t know.
Fukubukuro from lolita brands are usually available for the basic prices of 5,000 yen or 10,000 yen, plus tax, and of course content varies by price. Some brands will release cheaper accessory packs. Kera shops carry fukubukuro from a number of brands usually, from Suppurate System to Marble, depending on the brands that particular store stocks.
Of course the most famous time for fukubukuro is New Year’s day (or the days just after, if the store is closed on New Year’s. Just about every store in Japan is having a huge sale (many with fukubukuro) on this same day, so you usually have to choose which brand you want and forsake all the others. Because the Lolita brands release such limited numbers of fukubukuro, it’s unlikely that you’ll get one if you don’t line up early. Because the winter sales are a widespread event, fashion magazines usually devote at least the news section of their December/January issues to listing special events by stores, including specific lists of what day (and time) fukubukuro will be released, so the smart shopper can plan well in advance.
The second most popular time for fukubukuro is in mid-summer, along with the summer sales. It’s less likely that special sets will be released at this time, or that special fukubukuro-only items will be produced, so the packs are likely to be full of a selection of items from the previous season.
It’s important to note about fukubukuro that, while the contents are (usually) worth significantly more than the price of the bag, these contents are also often items that didn’t sell particularly well in the last season, hence the availability of these items to be sold so cheaply. One should be wary of lucky packs released immediately after long sales periods because the contents are almost assuredly things that didn’t sale in spite of ever-lower prices. The value of the pack is usually posted somewhere (in a magazine, or sometimes right on the pack) but this does not reflect the “sale” value, of course. You might have saved money had you bought the items on sale instead of getting a fukubukuro!
Along with this consideration, of course the buyer has to understand that the contents of the pack are random, though most brands attempt to put together a coordinate or at least a similar color, and there is no guarantee that the things are going to fit or be flattering if they do. You would *think* that putting things that fit a wide range of sizes into the bags would be the natural choice, but as I have known people who got something as specifically sized as shoes in a pack, that’s not the case. Buyer beware 🙂
Along with other promotions, brands will sometimes have fukubukuro to celebrate other occasions, and these are usually advertised only in blogs or on the brand’s website– less likely in magazines. For this reason it’s important to keep your eyes open!