Dealing with Smokey Lolita Clothing

02A while back, I bought this listing for an Innocent World Rose Trump One Piece from Winter 2006 on Mbok. I usually read the item descriptions, but don’t always read the personal profiles of the sellers. In this case, that was a BIG mistake because I missed this “家族に喫煙者あり、室内犬います”, (Smoking household, with a dog). 

Thankfully, I only paid 8,000円 (~$66 USD) for it, before shopping service payments and shipping.

The dress came in and the collar is yellowed badly, as are the sleeves and it reeeeks of cigarette smoke. Thankfully, it was sealed up well in the bag my SS put it in, so the smell didn’t get on other things.

But that leaves me with a problem. I have a smelly, stained dress. So, first things first, I checked the washing label. The dress is a corduroy and says do not wash. I know from experience that Innocent World is overly cautious about recommending dry cleaning, and I got this pretty cheaply, so I decided to wash it anyways. I first removed the waist ties and detachable sleeves. Then I cut two buttons which were loose all the way off. I’ll resew them later, but I didn’t want them to fall off in the machine. I wet the very tippy end of a waist tie with cold water and blotted on a paper towel. When that “passed” without running I filled the washing machine with cold water and detergent and dipped a waist tie in completely. Then I blotted it with a paper towel. Still no running. So, I put the dress, waist ties and detachable sleeves in the washing machine along with some color catcher sheets and washed it in cold/cold on gentle.

After it came out, I smelled it. The smell was pretty much gone, but the stains remained. I hung the dress to dry to deal with later.

In the past, I’ve done the same thing with velveteen skirts from Cornet. In that case, the skirts were already damaged and had been so cheap that the risk of ruining them outweighed the benefit of making them clean again. In that case, I first handwashed the skirts, rinsing them each out in the shower for a good 15 minutes in cold water. They smelled still, so I put them through the washing machine twice, then aired them out outside.

In both of these cases, I took a risk in washing a specialty fabric myself. If it was a significantly more valuable dress, I would not have taken the same risk. I would instead have brought the pieces to a dry cleaner. However, in both cases, washing the garment alone removed the scent (though not the discoloration).

For the innocent world OP, the discoloration is mainly on the collar portion of the dress, so, I’m considering removing the collar and replacing it with a new collar made of the same type of material in the same pattern. I’ve tried pretty much everything else I can think of (baking soda, soaking, etc), and the yellowing just won’t budge.

Have you ever gotten a piece with smoke damage before in the mail, particularly staining / yellowing? Were you able to fix it? Let me know in the comments!

Favorite Lolita Shoe Shops

Most people are already familiar with the fact that the major Japanese brands make shoes. I own shoes from Innocent World, Metamorphose and Angelic Pretty and while I do really like them, they aren’t the most comfortable or durable shoes out there and they do cost a pretty penny. So, here are some of my favorite places that sell lolita or loliable shoes that either stand up to a little bit more wear and tear, or are at a much better price point.

Empty Wardrobe (webshop) (weibo)


Empty Wardrobe is a Chinese brand, their weibo account was started in December of 2015 and their taobao shop was opened in November of 2015. So they are relatively new, as far as brands go. I really like their shoes because they use a lot of interesting / whimsical elements like charms, butterfly wing heel molds and leather punches in the shapes of butterfly wings. This makes their designs stand out a lot compared to many of the other designs on the market. The prices are good as well. The shoes above are only 240 Yuan, which is about $38 USD. They are very generous with bows and accessories with the shoes, as well. Sizing seems to range between 34 and 41, with some things cutting off at 39 or 40 (Chinese sizes).

Cotton Candy Feet (Webshop) (Facebook)


Cotton Candy Feet is a brand from Brazil, which appears to have started in 2015. They offer really cool finishes like holographic and glitter, and a pretty wide array of sizes: from EU 34 to 44 (that’s roughly a range of 22cm to 27cm). They offer a number of lovely, well balanced designs, and a lot of colors. Prices range from $54 – $94 USD. I don’t personally own any of their shoes (but I’ve been eyeing them up!), but my girlfriend does. A couple years ago, they were offering to make smaller or larger sizes if they had enough people who wanted a certain size, so she ordered a bunch of colors in her (very small) size. For durability, she really likes PU ones with the embedded glitter. While the glittery ones like the ones pictured above get a lot of attention, the material is a bit more delicate and can crack with wear. Cotton Candy feet also makes bags and wallets!

Dream V (Webshop) (Rakuten) (Facebook) (Brands and other sales platforms…)


Dream V is a Japanese brand established as a toy and household goods shop in May 1998. In July 2005 they branched out into clothing, and now they focus on clothing, offering a handful of house brands. They sell trendy, cute clothing aimed at Japanese teens and young adults. Because they are sort of trend-chasing, they only sometimes have lolita or loliable shoes, but they do usually have a few pairs. Think sort of like a Japanese Street Fashion focused version of Forever 21. Their sizing is pretty limited; many shoes only come in 23cm-24.5cm, which is pretty standard for Japanese companies. However, pricing can be really affordable. Shoes range between 1490 yen (about $14 USD) on the lower end for something like a pair of basic ballet flats, and 7990 yen (about $75 USD) on the high end for a pair of platforms that are clear on the bottom and full of silk flowers. Most of their lolita shoes are in the $20-$40 range. They also sell a lot of really great add-ons like poofball shoe clips, and straps to make any pair of (black) heels into mary-janes. Their shoes are seasonal and sell out, so if you see something you like, don’t wait too long!

To Alice (Webshop) / (Japanese WebShop) (Twitter)


To Alice is a Chinese brand that has been operating on taobao since January, 2011. They periodically release shoes, but don’t really keep them in stock on taobao. When they do release shoes, they are typically a decent price, and cute, so it’s worth keeping an eye out. If you see something you like, order right away, because it won’t stick around. Sizing is limited.

F.i.n.t. (Webshop) (Website)


F.i.n.t. is a Japanese otome shop with a number of house brands. Established in May 1, 1984 as Mellow, they later changed their name to Free International Corporation, or F.i.n.t., in September 1996.  Because their style is primarily vintage / otome, their shoes tend to be pretty simple and classic. They do occasionally toss in an off-the-wall color option like teal or mustard, so if you need a weird color to match a classic piece, they are a good place to check out. Sizing is limited; they only offer standard Japanese S/M/L. Prices range between 6,000 yen and 9,500 yen (~$56 – $90 USD). However, because they are a normal retail shop with normal retail seasons, they frequently have end of season clearance sales. They also have an outlet section which often has good sales!

Melissa (webshop) (website)


My favorite shoes are a collaboration between Vivienne Westwood (inventor of the rocking horse shoe) and Melissa. Melissa is a brand located in Brazil that makes shoes out of a special ecco-friendly plastic material that smells like bubblegum. The shoes are very durable and while they still aren’t cheap, the collaboration pieces are a bit more affordable than buying straight from Vivienne Westwood’s normal shoe collections.

American Duchess (webshop)

colette-button-boots-0-340x340-american duchess

American Duchess is an american shoe brand that makes 16th – 20th century historical shoes, including shoes that are Victorian inspired for wear with lolita. The designers / owners originally ran a historical costuming blog, but branched out into making shoes in 2010.  American Duchess uses high quality materials like satin and calf leather. Sizing ranges from US lady’s 6 – 11. Prices range from about $120 USD to $199 USD. While the prices are a bit higher than many of the other brands above (with the exception of some of the Melissa shoes), the higher material quality, and the attention to historical detail makes them absolutely worth the money. The Colette Boots (pictured above) are striking for a classic or gothic look! I don’t own any of their shoes yet personally, but I know quite a few people who do

What is your favorite place to buy shoes to wear with lolita?

How The Western Lolita Community Is Failing Chinese Brands

Recently, I made a change to one of my resources pages. For a long time, I’ve had a page called “Taobao brand list“. Which, it was. It was a list of shops, on the platform taobao, that sold lolita. That’s what the western community calls them, right? Taobao brands. Except, we don’t call western indie brands “etsy brands”, or “store envy brands” or “paypal brands”. We call them indie brands. And it doesn’t matter if they are in England, or Australia or Canada, or the United States, or anywhere else in the non-asian world. We call them indie brands. Sure, there aren’t many of them, so it makes it easy right? But, if an indie brand is in Korea, it’s a Korean brand or a Korean indie brand. And if an indie brand is in Japan, it’s a brand.

But if an indie brand is in China, it’s a taobao brand.

And if someone says “oh, that dress looks really taobao-ish”, you know what they mean, right? Somethings not quite right about it, right? Maybe the design is weak, or the lace is cheap, or the art style just isn’t quite right.

But, it’s ok, right? I mean, everyone knows it, right?

It just looks Chinese, right?

…was that last statement jarring? I really hope it was.

If it wasn’t, it should be. In fact, a lot of this should be jarring.

Because it’s really quite racist.

Long Ears Sharp Ears - Girlism Fashion Show

Long Ears Sharp Ears at the Girlism Fashion Show

China has one of the most sophisticated manufacturing infrastructures in the world, and China is second in the world for countries with the most billionaires. It’s also arguably one of the largest markets for lolita fashion, if not the largest.

There are more Chinese indie lolita brands and Chinese lolita brands than there are indie lolita brands and lolita brands in the rest of the world combined.

And, if you go on taobao, and look at the sales numbers on popular pieces from popular Chinese brands, they easily eclipse the sales numbers of some of the companies that western lolita consider “brands”. And these pieces aren’t carbon copies. They are fresh, and innovative. There are new shapes, and details and motifs coming out of these brands. Different Chinese brands hit different price points (and, by necessity, quality levels), making lolita more accessible to more people.

There is a Chinese lolita fashion mook, Girlism, with high quality photography that makes the GLB look cheap.

And the Chinese lolita community is setting trends that influence the design choices of brands in Japan.

And yet, western lolita have the audacity to not only be disrespectful to hundreds of designers and brands by lumping them into one and calling them taobao brands, after their sales platform, but to use that as a put-down for low quality or ugly pieces, as if all of China is a hive-mind producing cheap crap.

It’s shameful, and it’s racist, and it needs to stop.

Today, highly skilled workers in Chinese factories produce some of the highest quality designer goods in the world. Most Japanese lolita brands have at least some of their items produced in Chinese factories, and they have for years. The idea that Chinese made lolita items are low quality because they were made in China is a misconception fueled in part by the fact that for many years, China simply was exceptional at manufacturing things inexpensively. That naturally led to western companies who needed cheap stuff made cheap to turn to Chinese factories, which in turn led to an association between cheap stuff and Chinese manufacturing in western culture. The fact that cheap items, or low quality items, or fake items produced in China exist, does not negate the accomplishments of hundreds of Chinese lolita designers who make nice things. After all, cheap and low quality lolita items exist in Japan and in the west as well.

I’d like to encourage people to be mindful of the language they use to describe things. Lolita is changing, and evolving, and I believe that Chinese lolita fashion brands are likely to hold a more and more pivotal role in the future.