An Informal Survey of Brand Reach: Top 50 Lolita Fashion Brands
As many of you know, I work with Lolibrary as one of the many, many lolibrarians who upkeep the site. One of the challenges we have with the site is balancing the list of brands. If too many things are added to the brand list, it slows down adding items / searching for items and becomes difficult to navigate the site. On the flip side, omitting popular brands isn’t good either.
We were talking in the lolibrary discord about what the threshold for being a brand, versus having an indie brand tag, versus just having the brand name in the item name should be, and that got me thinking: I know what is in my closet, and to a general degree I know what is popular, but I don’t really know which brands have the biggest reach in the western community. I thought it might be interesting to poll rufflechat and see what brands have the biggest reach among people who are active on rufflechat.
Now, it’s important to note that rufflechat skews younger and newer than the community as a whole so this is biased data. I find that many older / more experienced lolita aren’t interested in open / general discussion groups because of the repetition / frequency of newbie-type topics / content, and I mean, it doesn’t bother me personally, but I get it.
However, it’s still a snapshot of a certain portion of the community, and it’s difficult to really poll the community as a whole without bias as there is no central point where the community gathers.
The basic premise was this: people were asked to select every brand they owned a single item from. It didn’t matter if their wardrobe was 99.9% baby, if they had a single item from Infanta, they were to mark both Baby and Infanta. You can view / respond to the topic still.
I expected Angelic Pretty to be the top of the list, followed by Meta and then Baby and Innocent World. I figured Bodyline and Chocomint might be pretty high up, and I figured some of the older Chinese indie brands might be pretty high up, as well as some of the petticoat companies, like Me likes tea and/or Aurora & Ariel.
I was a bit surprised by the actual results. I’ll put the number of votes as of the time of writing in parentheses after the brand
1. Angelic Pretty (653)
I mean, is anyone surprised? Just looking at what gets traction on lolita updates, Angelic Pretty is the darling of the western community, and they generally get the most attention in general.
2. Baby the Stars Shine Bright /
Alice and the Pirates (564)
This did surprise me. Rufflechat and Lolita Updates are sister groups managed by mostly the same team and usually reflect each other, but Baby / Pirates doesn’t get much traction on LU compared to other brands. I guess it makes sense given how many stores Baby has, they clearly are financially successful. I’ve also noticed a lot of people talking recently about how they are starting to favor Baby over AP for various reasons.
3. Bodyline (456)
I mean, I expected bodyline to be high up, I just don’t think I expected them to beat out everyone other than AP and Baby.
It’s doubly interesting because I feel like a lot of newer lolita are starting with other lower cost brands instead of Bodyline.
4. Metamorphose (418)
I feel like Metamorphose has done more to cater to the western market than most other brands with their development of English content early on, their easy to use overseas shopping site, their plus plus size and their copious number of lucky packs. While Meta isn’t my favorite brand, they made my favorite blouse, which I wear all the time.
5. Innocent World (336)
I’m glad IW is this high up because I worry about them sometimes when I see how much they put in sale and with the brand actually saying they were having financial troubles.
6. Infanta (212)
I’m both surprised and not all at once. Infanta has been known in the western community for years, they are fairly consistent and have a good price point. I just ordered a JSK from them on 11.11 so, and I’ve owned items from them in the past. I think my main thing with Infanta is I always just want the things that I buy from them to be a slight bit better.
7. Lady Sloth (203)
This honestly really surprised me. Not that I don’t think Lady Sloth is good or anything, I’m just really surprised that they have this high of a reach. Keep in mind we have only seen 4 of the capitol-B “Brands” so far. I’m really impressed. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense though, I mean, a lot of people do recommend Lady sloth, especially for blouses and plus-sized options
8. Violet Fane (180)
I did not expect this at all. I know their custom prints have been popular, but I feel like I don’t see their stuff being worn a ton? I think their print work is strong, I just didn’t know they had this big of a reach. It might be in part because I’m not into horror/gore/gothic stuff and I think their first few prints were more gothic?
9 SouffleSong (162)
Souffle Song is cheap, visually interesting, and absolutely is working to sell to the western community. I can’t say I’m particularly surprised they are this high compared to other Chinese indie brands. I don’t buy their stuff because I’m super picky, and my preference for lower
10 Haenuli (148)
Absolutely no shade to Lady sloth or Violet Fane, but if I had to guess which indie brand had the highest reach, I would have guessed Haenuli. So I’m surprised to see Haenuli lower than the other two, but not surprised to see Haenuli in the top 10.
11 Moi Meme Moitie (139)
Moitie has a cult status in the community and I feel like it was never going to be number one, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if some people own a token Moitie piece just because it’s Moitie. I mean, and then you have the people who are really big Moitie fans and own a ton of it, but I also kind of think those people tend to be a little less likely to be members of rufflechat, which skews more sweet/young.
12 Emily Temple Cute / Shirley Temple (132)
This was kind of surprising to me, because while I feel like ETC and ST are fairly common in publications and in closet child and in street snaps and misako’s wardrobe, I haven’t really seen the western community as excited about ETC as I would expect for it to be up this high. I suspect part of the reason it’s up so high is that it’s very wearable, and lower resale prices for older pieces.
13 Atelier Pierrot (130)
AtePie is a fantastic brand that makes some fantastic blouses that are very size inclusive as well as lot of really flattering dresses. I feel like the only thing that really holds them back in the west is the western community’s obsession with sweet prints.
14 Fan + Friend (121)
I’m surprised F+F is still this high up. They don’t get talked about much. I mean, I realize they still exist, but I feel like the community is a little “meh” about some of their stuff. I don’t know… there just is something slightly amateur about a lot of their custom sized solids to me that I can’t quite put my finger on. They have been doing more print work in the past few years though, so, that’s a thing. I’d be really curious to see what F+F things people have in their closets.
15 Putumayo (120)
I’m not surprised Putumayo is this high, their resale prices are super low, which makes their cutsews very attractive for padding out a wardrobe. I feel like anyone who budget shops second hand Japanese auctions or closet child and it’s ilk has ended up seeing some really cheap Putumayo. I don’t see a ton of people like super, super excited about Putumayo (I remember attending a Putumayo tea in the US where a lot of attendees weren’t wearing Putumayo main pieces) so I think their price point second hand probably is boosting them.
16 Me Likes Tea (115)
Everyone seems to talk about MLT petticoats, so this is pretty in line with what I was expecting.
17 Diamond Honey (109)
Diamond Honey is cheap, they put out a lot prints that are pretty trendy. This makes sense to me.
18 Aurora & Ariel (103)
I really want to know how many people clicked yes because they bought a petticoat from A&A. I think their clothes are really cute too, don’t get me wrong, but I suspect a lot of this is petticoats.
19 Sweet Dreamer (102)
This is interesting because Sweet Dreamer isn’t a brand that really sticks in my mind. But when I looked them up just now, I was like, oh, yes, of course. So Sweet Dreamer is a Chinese indie brand that makes some Pink House styled pieces and they also make a lot of florals and solids with very detailed designs. They also make some nice accessories. I’ve looked at their stuff quite a few times, wanted it, and then just not made the plunge (not feeling like looking up something on taobao to make an order saves me from ordering a lot of stuff personally).
20-21 Victorian Maiden & Axes Femme (100)
Next, we have a tie for 20th / 21st place between Victorian Maiden and Axes Femme. Victorian Maiden is kind of a very specific aestetic that I feel like isn’t the most popular right now. It’s also mostly solid and I think people also tend to assume all their stuff is very, very small even though they have been expanding their sizing a lot. I think those things hold them back from ranking higher like at an Innocent World level.
Axes Femme on the other hand is one of those lolita adjacent brands. I think the reason they are so high on the list is because it’s easy to find their stuff secondhand for pretty cheap, and they do have some nice prints in their lolita line. Their stuff is also good for more casual wear. So even though they don’t get the same excitement and traction in Lolita Updates as some of the other lolita specific brands, I’m not terribly surprised by this placement.
22 Chantilly (96)
Chantilly is great but, again, not the most dominant style right now. They do have some larger sizing and I’ve never seen Chantilly for sale super cheap second hand. Like, I feel like if secondhand Chantilly sold for cheap, I’d have a ton of it, but it really retains value. I think it’s one of those things where if it was cheap, it would be way higher on this list, but because it’s a very specific style that isn’t the most popular right now, I think it doesn’t do quite as well.
23 Black Peace Now (90)
I mean, yeah. They are out of business, and they are more punk/goth. This is honestly higher on the list than I expected.
24 Dear Celine (89)
I’m surprised they aren’t higher because honestly I think of them and Infanta as going hand-in-hand. I think their reliance on found fabric versus a lot of custom prints and the fact that they aren’t really marketing very strongly to the western community probably impacts their sales.
25-26 Little Dipper & To Alice (86)
Another tie, both are Chinese indie brands. Little dipper is popular for their underskirts and solids. They have a nice size range… I really like what I have gotten from them.
To Alice is the opposite, it’s all trendy prints and super cheap, I think the reason they are so high is that they are so cheap and the do so many trendy things, and the reason they aren’t higher is because you don’t get prices that cheap without cutting quality. It’s the Forever21 of lolita.
27 Triple Fortune (81)
I want to know how many of these are bonnets. The western community went crazy for 3f’s bonnets a few years ago and I feel like a lot of people bought one because it was trendy. Their clothing on the other hand… I haven’t personally been impressed with and I feel like the community isn’t super into their print style.
28-29 H. Naoto & Chocomint (79)
Another tie! H. Naoto just doesn’t get traction in the western community and I don’t know why. I assume it’s because they aren’t doing a lot of border prints and they are going more goth? I also feel like this probably was impacted by the audience I polled.
Chocomint is hard to find these days, so I suspect that’s why it’s lower than I expected? I feel like if I asked the same question around 2012, the answer would be different, lol.
30 Sweet Mildred (78)
I love Sweet Mildred! I have so many headdresses from her and the JSK I bought from her recently is so super comfortable and nice. I think she does a really good job of offering accessories across a lot of price points so that there is something that is going to appeal to the person who is pretty set on just buying BTSSB dresses, as well as things that appeal to the person who is brand new to lolita. She also makes a great mix of inexpensive simple dresses and more involved / more trendy pieces. She has been closing her Etsy lately due to high order volume, so if you are interested in checking her out, I totally recommend subscribing to her patreon.
31 Puvithel (77)
Puvithel is great too! Puvithel does a lot of more creepy / medical themed stuff which isn’t my personal style, but it’s pretty popular in the community. She also does some very nice accessories.
32 Juliette Et Justine (75)
JetJ is one of the brands that I feel like really has more of a following with experienced / older lolita, and even then, I think they damaged their own reputation with some of their sewing mishaps a few years ago.
33 Cotton Candy Feet (74)
Cotton Candy Feet has such a nice range of sizing, and a nice collection of different styles. I feel like they are a great option for shoes and I’m not surprised to see them here.
34-35 Qpot & Maxicimam (73)
Another tie! Qpot… exists. I mean, I just don’t see people talking about them that much. I think the fact that they are so expensive and that you don’t get the full experience in the US definitely hurts their case.
Mam has been on the rise lately, I feel like, with the old school trend and with their extended sizing options. I think if they offered more AP-style border prints / more frequent releases, they would get more traction, but they are a really small brand.
36 Antique Beast (71)
How many of these are the cat headdresses that look like bat wings?
37-39 Atelier Boz, Magic Tea Party & BB & B Deco (70)
Another tie! Boz is great, I love the smooth, elegant lines of their clothing, but it’s gothic, this was a poll in rufflechat, and they don’t do prints. But their stuff is really nice, so if you like the look, do check them out.
Magic Tea Party has a lot of trendy prints at low prices, I don’t really have any strong opinions about them, but price point and prints make up most of their appeal.
BB & B Deco… I don’t know a whole lot about them. People talk about them, so I guess they are popular? They are more of a west coast thing, I believe?
40 Peacockalorum (61)
I don’t know this brand? I looked them up and they are a UK indie brand which is probably why I’m less familiar (I’m more familiar with US based indie brands), and it also looks like they don’t regularly promote on lolita updates, so that also impacts how likely I am to know the name. It looks like they have some cool print tights.
41-42 Peppermint Fox & Alice Girl (60)
A tie, again. I love Peppermint Fox. They are well known for their “Tiny Companion” wood pin series which features soft art of small animals in lovely clothes. I really love the ones that I have, and their clothing has been lovely as well.
Alice Girl is another Chinese indie brand. They have been putting out a mix of trendy prints and interesting solids. I personally keep looking at their solids, loving them, and then realizing they are too high waist for me and not getting them. But, it’s all really cute…
43 Surface Spell (58)
Ah, this is a name I’m well acquainted with. Surfacespell, like Infanta and Dear Celine is one of the Chinese indie brands that was well known in the western community even 10 years ago. Their price points tend to be a little higher, and they tend to skew more classic / gothic. So that probably keeps them from being up where, say, Dear Celine is.
44 Lief (57)
Lief is a Korean indie brand. Their Sacred Night collaboration with Mew back in the days of EGL was very popular as was their garden berry series. They have been putting out custom prints in the past few years and have been moderately popular.
45 Red Maria (54)
Red Maria is a Chinese indie brand. They weren’t really on my radar, so I’m surprised, but looking at their stuff I can see the appeal. It’s not really my style, but they do a lot of custom print work and their print work seems pretty strong.
46 Mary Magdalene (53)
If Mary was still putting out clothing, they would be higher up than this, I’m certain. If anything, I’m surprised they are this high up.
47 Krad Lanrete (52)
I’m honestly surprised that this one is this low, because I thought Krad was pretty popular with older / more established lolita. I suspect their higher price point, difficulty to obtain and more gothic style might make them less appealing to this specific slice of the community?
48-50 Jane Marple, Ista Mori & 6% Doki Doki (49)
And bringing up the end of the list, it’s another tie. Jane Marple is a lolita adjacent brand, which again, I feel like is more popular with the older more classic leaning crowd. JM also isn’t cheap, it’s more expensive than most lolita brands. There has also been some controversy surrounding the brand in the western community due to two of their past series which depicted vintage children’s characters that were racist tropes.
Itsa Mori is a Chinese indie brand which is known primarily for a single nun-style dress they put out which I suspect is what the vast majority of respondents own. They do also have some gothic border prints, which seems to have quite nice artwork.
6% Doki Doki is primarily an accessories brand, and is popular with OTT Sweet and Deco Lolita. A lot of the popular Chocomint pieces are copies off of popular 6% pieces. I really like my 6% accessories, but they can be harder to get in the US / it might not seem worth the shipping since unlike how you can get Chocomint new from Closet Child and just bundle it into your order, the 6% site is stand alone and has a minimum order quantity.
So, what do you think? Any of these surprise you? Any you think should have been higher / lower? Do you agree with my assessments? Let me know in the comments!