Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Lolita Basics 2: Where to buy, where not to buy

Hello! ♡
Aww yes- we have reached 2,000 views! Thank you to everyone for contributing, and let's hope Lilac's Journal keeps growing ^^ I have something special planned for when we reach 5,000 views, we can do it! :D
Welcome to the second part of Lolita Basics! Last time, we covered the Lolita substyles, and this week- we will talk about where to buy Lolita clothes- as well as which shops to stay away from. So, without any further ado, let's go! :D

Lolita Basics 1: The Sub-Styles ✓
Lolita Basics 2: Where to buy, where not to buy ✓
Lolita Basics 3: Building a basic wardrobe
Lolita Basics 4: Mistakes to avoid
Lolita Basics 5: Lolita Terms

A common misconception among newer Lolitas is that all dresses are $200 big brand pieces. That's not always the case! Although Lolita isn't the cheapest hobby, it's much less expensive than you think. Also, you don't have to completely stay away from AliExpress and eBay. These sites don't have the best reputation in the community, but it's a matter of knowing where to look, checking store ratings and reviews- and you can hunt down gems for affordable prices. With so many shady shops all over the internet, how do you know where it's worth spending your money? Where do you look for lolita fashion for different needs, and which stores should you keep your credit card away from? Keep reading to find out! ^^

Where to buy
There are many many places to buy Lolita- from the big brands to small Indie brands.
The big brands are very expensive- but by buying from them, you are supporting the designers and brands! You also get your money's worth- the pieces are very beautiful and high quality. This isn't to say that you can't be a true lolita without having any brand- whether your wardrobe is all handmade or all brand, you're still a lolita! Brands, however, tend to have smaller sizing- but many dresses also have shirring and elastic to fit a much wider range of sizes.

Indie brands tend to be cheaper (but not always), and there are more and more of them. By buying from them, you are supporting independent designers, and many of them also offer custom sizing.

There are also many other places to buy from. TaoBao and Bodyline are more affordable options, and eBay and AliExpress can be good places to find hidden gems. Of course, I can't list all the places to buy from in this post- but I'll list as many as I can. Discovering more shops is up to you!

What are the big Lolita brands?
  • Angelic Pretty- best for Sweet Lolita, but some of their dresses are also good for Gothic and Classic. While new dresses directly from them will average around 30,000 Yen (250$), they are very beautiful, detailed and well made, making them worth every dollar. AP requires a shopping service (more on that later) as they don't ship internationally.
  • Baby, The Stars Shine Bright- Similar to AP, with most of their pieces being perfect for Sweet and Classic. They also ship worldwide!
  • Moi-meme-moitie A gothic lolita brand, with prices being a bit higher than AP and BtSSB. It was created by Mana, a very important and famous figure in the community. Colours are rich and deep and motifs include gothic architecture and crosses.
  • Innocent World A brand perfect for Classic Lolita. While their dresses aren't cheap, they tend to be cheaper than the above brands. 
  • Mary Magdalene Similar to IW- also a Classic Lolita brand. 
  • Metamorphose temps de fille- While most of their pieces tend to be classic/sweet, they also have some perfect for gothic.

Bodyline is the perfect place for Lolitas on a budget. Their dresses are very affordable, most are very pretty and quality is quite good. However- there are some worse pieces, so if a piece interests you, make sure you look up reviews beforehand. Don't go into the Cosplay section, and use your common sense- don't go buying a lace monster. If you look up 'ugly Bodyline dresses' or something similar, then you'll see which dresses are just not for lolita. When starting with the fashion it can be hard to tell what's good for lolita and what's not, so the Internet is your friend ^^ This is a very helpful place for all things Bodyline! (Oh, and I wouldn't reccomend their petticoats. It's best to invest in a good petti) Their shoes also go up to larger sizes.

TaoBao- the massive Chinese online marketplace, where there are LOTS of unique and lovely lolita brands. I will in the future write a separate post dedicated to TaoBao, but here I'll cover the basics. Dresses tend to be more affordable (though some brands are more expensive than others). The catches?

  • It's all in Chinese (I have a built-in translator in my browser)
  • You must search in Chinese
  • You must use a shopping service
When browsing TaoBao, I use this to help me search for what I need as well as Google Translate. As for shopping services- there are LOADS. I heard good things about TaoBaoNow and TaoBaoSpree, they basically buy from TaoBao for you. There is a service fee that's different for each SS, but it usually isn't much. There is also the question of shipping- every SS has different shipping options, but there are also shipping calculators online such as this one that will help you estimate how much you'll need to pay for shipping. Like any other online marketplace, TaoBao has its fair share of dodgy sellers. Make sure you check each seller's rating- TaoBao's rating system is explained here.
There are also some stores that are TaoBao resellers, such as GlitzyWonderland, which I love because FREE.SHIPPING. Here is a nice list of TaoBao shops.

eBay and AliExpress
Often, if you mention eBay or AliExpress to a lolita, they will tell you to steer clear. HOWEVER. Not all shops are bad! There are so many hidden gems you can find there, it's worth having a look. To avoid getting an ita piece, use common sense and check seller ratings. If anything, both eBay and AliExpress have buyer protection should you get anything weird. Make sure you also check feedback and reviews- if the store seems trustworthy, then go on ahead! If you see what looks like new brand pieces at very cheap prices- don't fall for it. They are either replicas or just rip-offs. The images are likely stolen and you definitely won't get the real thing. Seeing the same dress sold in many stores is a different thing- it's probably a TaoBao reseller, and should be fine to buy as long as you check feedback. Check the materials- does the lace look cheap? Is it shiny polyester? Is this labelled as Cosplay? Does this piece look cheap? Answer these questions in your head before taking the plunge. I would reccomend looking into eBay and AliExpress only when you have been into the fashion for a bit, so you can tell the good pieces from the bad. AliExpress is much better for lolita than eBay, as quite a few things on there are from TaoBao, and almost everything has free shipping. There's also no need to go through a shopping service, which is a plus. This thread is very useful for shopping on eBay ^^

Indie and Western brands
There are many smaller Lolita brands, with lots of them being in the West, with very pretty and original designs. Prices differ- some cost around the same as a big Japanese brand, others are much more affordable. One plus of Indie brands is that some of them offer custom sizing. While there are looooads of them, I'll list just a few nice Indie brands, as well as their price range and general style.

Wear It Cuter- Adorable sweet lolita skirts- each one costs around 80$, there are some accessories too ^^ Everything is made-to-order for your size.

Porcelain Doll- They have a physical store in the Czech Republic and the style is mostly classic, with some gothic and sweet-classic pieces. Skirts go for $40-60, and dresses are around $80.

Haenuli- A Korean brand with mostly Gothic, dresses are expensive- around the same as brand, perhaps even more sometimes, but very unique designs.

Lady Sloth- An Indie brand based in Poland, with a range of styles- I'd say mostly classic. A dress would be around $150.

Anna House- Based in China, with the style being classic and sweet. Although there are some more lace monster pieces out there, it's generally a good brand with almost all dresses being under $100.

For more Indie brands, click here!

Buying second-hand is the best way to get brand at much cheaper prices. Although some sellers like to overprice their pieces, if you look around a bit, you can find some great deals! It's also a good way to find pieces that are not available anymore.
There are quite a few places to buy second-hand lolita, including...

Lace Market- the international lolita marketplace. Some sellers overprice their pieces, but it's a great place to buy second hand lolita nonetheless ^^
Closet Child- Japanese site, prices tend to be cheaper than LM, there is a little guide for placing overseas orders (you must message them).
Yahoo! Japan- Auction site, but Japanese brands are easy to find at good prices. I'm not a fan of auctions in general, but I know plenty of lolitas who swear by this. Requires a shopping service such as Buyee.
Lolita Desu- Pretty website design,  good prices and a wide range of brands and styles.
Alice+Fururun- Also a Japanese site, similar to Closet Child. Here is their guide for overseas orders.
EGL Comm Sales- One of the best places to buy second hand lolita, it's hard to navigate at first, but a lot of lolitas swear by it!

Where not to buy
There may be plenty of places to buy lolita online, but as you discover more shops-not all of them can be trusted! Make sure you stay away from these stores ^^

Milanoo is notorious in the Lolita community for stolen photos, scams and hideous pieces that look nothing like the photos. DO NOT BUY FROM THEM!!! But it's not just Milanoo. It's also a bunch of other shops under different names that you should stay away from, a good list is here. There are also some helpful tips for identifying shady websites. Stay away from these sites and you'll be fine!

So, that's it for where to buy Lolita clothes! Of course, there are lots of stores out there and you'll discover many more while you're in the fashion, but I hope this guide was helpful! What is your favourite Lolita brand? Where do you tend to buy your Lolita clothes? Let me know in the comments!
Have a lovely day!

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