Lolita Blog Carnival: What Made Certain Prints Like Iron Gate & Cat’s Tea Party, Etc, So Popular?

This weeks Lolita Blog Carnival topic is “What Made Certain Prints Like Iron Gate & Cat’s Tea Party, Etc, So Popular?”. For those who aren’t aware, “Iron Gate” and “Cat’s Tea Party” are two different lolita print series, from two different brands. These two series have one thing in common though: They were so sought after that they have sold second hand for over $1,000 USD, despite the initial prices being much lower.

This is something that really fascinates me personally, because at first glance, it seems almost arbitrary which pieces are and aren’t very valuable on the secondhand market. Personally, I think it varies from piece to piece, so I’d like to break it down by series, and I’d like to talk about a few other high price lolita items as well.

Moi meme moitie iron gateMana Iron Gate

First of all, Iron Gate. Iron Gate was released by Moi-même-Moitié in 2006. It was featured in Gothic Lolita Bible, Volume 20, where it was modeled by Mana, himself. One thing that is very interesting to note, in my opinion, is the opposite page. That left hand column talks about the latest album from Moi dix Mois; Beyond the gate. This issue of the GLB hit news stands a little less than a month after the album release. And in the side column, Mana talks about his latest Moi-même-Moitié collection and his latest musical work, which are tied together by this theme of gates. It didn’t all immediately sell out, though, in 2006, very few things did. In fact, In april, the JSK was still available in black x white, and black x navy, and the skirt was still listed in most colors in may. At least one cut/color of the skirt was still availableyear after release. So, while we can infer that the white colorway, the bag, and the OP cut, at least, were immediately popular, it appears that the series as a whole wasn’t immediately gone from stores. In fact, someone even posted in 2009 that they had an easy time buying it from CD Japan, who used to sell MMM overseas, because of how long it had been available.

It was, however, one of very few border prints available at the time, and it was relatively popular. It’s likely that there was a significant number of pieces made, since it lined up with the CD release. 2 years later, in 2008, a skirt auctioned off on EGL sold for 280 Euros. In 2012, a bag appears to have sold for $700 USD. In 2014, a faded dress was auctioned off with a starting bid of 400 Euros. It got no bids. In 2015, a JSK was listed for $850 USD. In fact, the first time I saw Iron Gate listed for over $1000 USD, it was a western second hand shop selling it, and it sat for a while because the price seemed too high to people at the time.

Royal GateIron gate now regularly sells for over $1,000, and while MMM has released a very similar print called Royal Gate, it doesn’t sell for anywhere near as much, though it does still fetch retail prices. (It is worth noting that Royal Gate is flocked and generally much less attractive). Overall, Iron Gate has an attractive motif, it was a border print in a time when border prints were just starting, and, I think most importantly, it’s still in fashion in a way that many of the other popular prints from that time period aren’t. For example, Angelic pretty’s 2006 print pastel a la mode looks dated when you compare it to other sweet prints, and there are so, so many cake prints to pick from. I think with Iron Gate, part of it is just that it was established as a status symbol, and once it became a status symbol, once Iron Gate became Iron Gate, I think it accelerated it’s value. Add a few people who were willing to pay way more for it, and the fact that it’s now well over 10 years old, and you have a piece who’s reputation as a rare, expensive status piece precedes it to the point where it easily fetches a 4-figure price.

puppet circusThere is another piece that is conspicuously missing from the lolita blog carnival topic’s title though, and that piece is Angelic Pretty’s Puppet Circus. By around 2010, if my memory serves, Puppet Circus and Iron Gate were pretty firmly established as the iconic lolita prints. Puppet circus has a lot in common with iron gate; it’s a monotone border print on a solid base, with lots of delicate detailing, it was one of a very small number of border prints available in 2006 when it came out, and it has a very solid design. Unfortunately, the wayback machine didn’t capture much of the Angelic Pretty webshop in the fall of 2006, but Puppet Circus was soundly and thoroughly sold out by February of 2007. It’s very interesting to compare it to some of their other pieces though; many other pieces that were popular at the time like Carnival mention that they sold out on reservation (pre-order), but Puppet Circus doesn’t say anything about that on the JSK listing. In fact, according to the sendai blog, only the OP sold out on reserve at all, and even then it was just red and white. The skirt, at the very least, was still available a month after release, even in red, one of the more popular colors per the same blog. So, while puppet circus certainly started out at least moderately popular (it did sell out in some cuts/colors relatively fast for the time), it wasn’t the most popular piece from AP that year.

Cats Tea Party

Cat’s Tea Party is the first of the prints in this post that was released after I became a lolita. At 41,790 yen, it was significantly more expensive than the average Angelic Pretty dress at the time. It was released as set consisting of a choker, headbow and JSK. There were two colors, but that was it. Gray or Pink, one cut. It has quarter shirring, and while I can’t find anyone who actually lists the minimum and maximum measurements, it’s relatively safe to say it’s probably around 90cm +/- 8cm in the bust and 70cm +/- 8cm in the waist. So, it’s about on par with Innocent World’s standard sizing. When it came out, the dollar to yen exchange was horrendous, like 78 yen to the dollar, kind of horrendous, making this set something like $535 USD (and that’s before international shipping and shopping service fees).

It’s a cute print, sure. Some people really liked the snooty little cats in it. But it’s a pastel print with cats. There are a bunch of other ones. So, at the time, a few people were really excited about the way the cats looked in this print, and some of them could afford it and bought it. But, some people were also just really indifferent to it, and some people couldn’t afford it, and some people just missed the fact that it even existed, and some people it wouldn’t fit so they didn’t bother. And that matters, a lot. Because it was make-to-order only, and it was only available for a short period of time. My theory is just that not many people bought this dress and/or the people who did had to really, really love it if they were spending twice the cost of a new dress for a dress in an unpopular theme (cat prints did not sell well in 2012; it was hard to get rid of them second hand, even when they were new). When the dress is sold in the western community, it’s often a piece that has already changed hands before, and it doesn’t come up for sale often. A few people who really love this set have been willing to pay a very high price for it over the last 5 years, and because of that, in particular, the price has gone quite high. It’s sort of become a status symbol because of this, but it’s a very bizarre one, in my opinion, because it’s really only so rare because people didn’t want it.

By the way, if you are interested in the value, there is an analysis of sales prices by Nadinao.

4c38abdb8acef17a750d23a81d305a60--gothic-lolita-fashion-lolita-styleBut, while these three dresses are currently quite expensive on the secondhand market, that status isn’t guaranteed. Alice and the Pirates Elizabeth Bride of Death series released in 2012 shot up to over $3K USD at it’s highest point on one particular Japanese auction. In early 2017, the cut without the slit in the front was selling for a cool $1k on lace market. Then, Baby announced that they were going to re-release the cut shown to the right on make-to-order. Overnight, the value of both cuts plummeted, and now the pieces from the series are go unsold at half that price. If you are in love with one of the dresses above, but not their current price tag, my advice would be to check out other pieces from those brands. Search lolibrary for things like cats, or gates. You may find that one of the many other pieces with those motifs speaks to you, and your wallet too. Or, just wait it out. Values of most lolita pieces have been falling in general. Time will only tell if it will hit these iconic pieces as well.

545430_945698161629_573562109_nOther blogs participating in this theme:
Cupcake Kamisama’s Lolita WorldThe Bloody Tea Party ♥

Mirror Post : “History of GOSULOLI” timeline in Rococo Vol. 1

I own quite a few mooks, magazines and catalogs relating to lolita fashion, going back to 1998. And one thing I’ve seen in a few of them is timelines and histories of the fashion. However, I can’t read Japanese, so I can’t read them… and some of the publications are relatively hard to come by at this point. So I would like to share translations of the information for people who, like me, can’t read it normally. I was planning on painstakingly translating it all out with a chart and google translate, but I came across a link to an article on the Spanish blog, Noblesse Oblige, to an English article on a blog called “A Gothic and Lolita Grimoire” on the history of Lolita Fashion (no longer available on the live web, go wayback?) which also touches on the origin of the name. Apparently a movie about the book came out in 1998 and people started applying the name to the girls already wearing the fashion. Imagine that; our whole name would then be based on people shouting things at us in the street? It’s a shame there wasn’t an Alice in Wonderland or Cinderella or Little Bo Peep movie out instead; it would have been far less confusing!

Anyway, in the comments of that article the author sent someone doing a research project to a translation of “History of GOSULOLI”  timeline in Rococo Vol. 1 by sumire. That translation is also no longer available on the live web. I feel that this is really interesting information (actually her whole old site is! as is this post on her journal) and I’d like to mirror the translation here because it doesn’t seem to be available from the author anywhere else and wayback machine isn’t always up.

So, just to be amply clear:
This is not my work. This was translated by Sumire. I am mirroring it for historic preservation ONLY.

History of GosuLoli Timeline
translated from the “History of GOSULOLI” [sic] timeline in Rococo Vol. 1
translation by sumire
(further notes and references under construction)

The 1980s

1983: Indie label “Nagomu Records” is founded by Kera, vocalist of “Uchoten”
Spawned such bands as Kinniku Shoujo-Tai, Jinsei (later Denki Groove), Tama, Tomorowo Taguchi’s Bachikaburi, and Shine-Shine-Dan. Expressing something different from the rock that had been dominant up until that time, it causes a subculture movement. Nagomu-kei fans known as “Nagomu Gals” appear. They are connected to the later lolita fashion.
1984: Indie label “Trance Records” is founded.
Represented by such bands as YBO2. The polar opposite of Nagomu-kei bands, they play dark, heavy music. Connected to the later goth fashion.
(NOTE: The bands’ fans were known as “Trance Gals.”)
Kitschy, American-casual-style brand HYSTERIC GLAMOUR is founded by designer Nobuhiko Kitamura.
Vivienne Westwood first comes to Japan
She first shows her collection in Tokyo with Hanae Mori and others.
Calvin Klein, Claude Montana, and Gianfranco Ferre were the others.)
1985: The “Hoko-ten Boom” begins.
Replacing the Takenoko-zoku, live street performances on Harajuku’s Omote-Sando Boulevard become popular. This led to the “band boom” that continued until 1995. Bands coming out of this scene include JUN SKY WALKER(S), THE BOOM, and BAKU.
1986: BUCK-TICK make their indie-label debut.
Still popular with gothloli girls today, they make their indie-label debut with “TO SEARCH/PLASTIC SYNDROME2.” They set a legendary record for indies-chart sales at the time.
1987: Mandarake Inc. founded.
They not only sell old manga and retro toys, but also spread the culture of cosplay and doujinshi into the world.
1988: X (Japan) make their indie-label debut.
The now-legendary band X’s debut “Vanishing Vision” goes on sale. The costumes subsequently worn by X fans can be called a culture. Its history begins at the same time as the arrival of the Visual-kei band boom.
The brand now synonymous with “lolita” is founded.
1989: Audition program “Ika-Ten” begins airing.
Brings about the debut of such bands as FLYING KIDS, BLANKEY JET CITY, Tama, JITTERIN’ JINN, and BEGIN.
Jane Marple’s first shop opens.
Having operated up until now without having its own shop, clothing brand Jane Marple opens its first shop in Laforet Harajuku Part 2.

The 1990s

1990: The “Shibuya-kei Boom” arrives.
The last wave of the “Band Boom,” stylish bands like Flipper’s Guitar, Pizzicato Five, and ORIGINAL LOVE known as “Shibuya-kei” bands, become popular. Music fans change from the older style of ban-gyaru (band girls) to the “Olive Shoujo” (“Olive Girls”). Their keywords are stripes, berets, and Agnes B.
(NOTE: According to the accompanying article, the women’s fashion magazine Olive brought about the “natural-kei lolita” boom.)
(NOTE: In the character profiles of 1996 shoujo anime “Gokinjo Monogatari,” lolita-dressing character Pii-chan’s favorite style of music is Shibuya-kei.)
1991: Juliana’s Tokyo opens.
In the last days of the “bubble economy,” large-scale disco Juliana’s Tokyo opens in Shibaura. It becomes a social phenomenon, spawning terms like “body-con,” “otachidai,” and “juri-sen.”
Were both the “kurofuku” who worked at the disco and the “kurofuku” worn by Visual-kei fans originated by Trance Gals?
(NOTES: “body-con[scious]”: the fad of tight, short, spangled, tank dresses to show off one’s body; “otachidai”: tiered platforms for dancers to stand on at discos; “Juli[ana]-sen[su]” (“Juliana fan”): a feather-trimmed fan held in one hand while one dances. “Kurofuku” (“black clothes”) had two different slang meanings at this time: a) a disco staff member or other service-industry employee, usually clad in a black suit, and b) the all-black, body-covering outfits favored by Visual-kei fans.)
1993: JUDY AND MARY debut with the single “Power of Love.”
Lolita punk clothing modeled after vocalist Yuki’s outfits becomes popular. English duo Shampoo are also symbolic. Harajuku-kei brands like MILK and HYSTERIC GLAMOUR become popular.
1994: Laforet Harajuku is wildly popular.
Crowds of 2-3000 people, including some who camp out all night, line up for the New Year’s bargain sales. Harajuku-kei high-brands, decidedly not cheap, are popular. Customers swarm stores like Jane Marple and BA-TSU.
1995: Vivienne Westwood Tokyo opens in Hibiya.
Designer Vivienne Westwood comes to Japan for the grand opening. She presents both a floor show and a talk show.
Tomoe Shinohara, last of the Nagomu Gals, makes her debut.
Her eccentric fashion, spastic movements, and unique way of talking become popular. “Shinollers” who imitate her appear in Harajuku. Producer Takkyu Ishino describes her as “the future ten years of Nagomu Gals turned into a marketable product.” Clothing brands SUPER LOVERS and Betty’s Blue experience a boom.
1996: MALICE MIZER debut.
MALICE MIZER debut with their first single “Uruwashiki Kamen no Shoutaijou. They make a sensational entrance with their medieval European concept and aesthetic worldview.
The late-night program “BREAKOUT” leads to a revival of the Visual-kei boom.
MALICE MIZER is at the head of the list that includes bands like SHAZNA, La’cryma Christi, FANATIC CRISIS, SOPHIA. It is at this time that gothloli is born.
Metamorphose is founded.
Classical, romantic lolita brand Metamorphose is founded by designer Kuniko Kato.
1997: Ura-Hara-kei “individualistic” high brands are very popular.
20471120, MILK, MILK BOY, Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Nemeth, Takuya Angel, and other unconventional brands with a strong individual style experience a boom.
1998: The remake of the movie “Lolita” is released.
Adrian Lyne remakes Stanley Kubrick’s 1961 “Lolita.” It is based on Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita,” which is the origin of the terms “Lolita complex” and “Lolita fashion.”

The 2000s

2000: The movie “Battle Royale” is released.
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku. The violence of this story of classmates killing each other earns the film an R-15 rating and status as a societal problem. The uniforms in the movie are designed by popular brand BA-TSU. They are sold in stores, and some fans attend the movie in costume.
h.NAOTO’s first collection.
The brand h.NAOTO is created by designer Naoto Hirooka. His strong sense of design earns him the esteem of musicians both within Japan and abroad.
Novala Takemoto debuts as a novelist with “Mishin” (“Sewing Machine”).
Novala Takemoto, whose essays and writings have made him a charismatic figure among young girls, makes his debut as a novelist.
The movie “Sleepy Hollow” is released.
Directed by Tim Burton. Its beautiful images and costumes express a gothic worldview similar to that of a Western fairy tale.
(NOTE: They’ve neglected to mention the publication of the first Gothic & Lolita Bible, since they’re a rival publisher.)
2001: 2001 TOKYO GOTH & DARKWAVE 01 is held.
The first occurrence of the largest gothic event in the Kanto region. The event continues to be held until the seventh and final time at Shibuya DeSeO.
The movie “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is released.
Based on the bestselling novel that caused a worldwide sensation. Around the world, young people gather at sneak previews dressed in costume as the characters.
2002: MALICE MIZER breaks up.
After continuing in the face of obstacles like Gackt’s departure and the sudden death of KAMI, MALICE MIZER finally ceases activity. The early 2000s see a rush of Visual-kei bands breaking up.
2004: Concept-kei bands become popular.
Kishidan, Psycho le Cemu, and other conceptual bands that ignore genre become popular. Their concerts are overflowing with cosplayers.
Many solo artists debut.
As Visual-kei bands continue to break up, solo artists become popular. DAIGO STAR*DUST, Miyavi, and others bring about a revival of Soft Visual-kei.
Kendzi Otsuki’s “Rocking Horse Ballerina” goes on sale.
A slightly silly and lovable coming-of-age story about a punk band and a lolita girl traveling.
The movie “Shimotsuma Monogatari,” based on a novel by Novala Takemoto, is released.
Lead actress Kyoko Fukada, dressed head-to-toe in Baby, the Stars Shine Bright clothing, draws mass media attention. This dissolves the conception that gothloli equals Visual-kei fan, and gothloli is recognized as fashion.
The movie “PEEP “TV” SHOW” is well-received around the world.
This movie about a gothloli girl, with a script collaborated upon by Karin Amamiya, is highly praised at international film festivals, leading to articles introducing the term “gothloli” in magazines and the New York Post. With this, the spelling “GOTHLOLI” changes to “GOSULOLI,” as it is pronounced in Japanese, and gains worldwide recognition.

I’ll follow this up at a later date with the brand timeline from the Gothic Lolita and Punk Brand book I have at home (which I’m working on translating out).