This week, for the 52 week lolita challenge, it’s question 6; my favorite lolita brand. This is really hard, because I have two.
First of all, I love Angelic Pretty. I love the style, I love the prints, and the splashes of color. I love how fun, and bright and just happy every thing is. The art style, the material choices, the construction style, the skirt fullness and shape… basically, everything. And, at the end of the day, when I sit down and think about my wardrobe, the first pieces to spring to my mind are from AP. I’ve had a pleasant experience with both their international and US webshops. They go beyond the minimum requirements with cute gifts, cute packaging, and free stickers. I read their blog, follow their new releases, and stalk their website at odd hours of the morning to try to get items. I like a majority of what they make, and they probably are the most likely to make me impulse buy. Aside from minor flaws in lucky pack items, the quality is high, and I’m, happy. I’d totally consider myself a “fan” of AP.
When I think of AP, these are the first 4 things I think of.
But, I am an advocate of Innocent World. What do I mean by that? If I had to say which brand was the most pleasant to work with, if I had to pick a brand to buy from based purely on the experience of buying, it would be Innocent World, hands down, every time. Not because AP is unpleasant, mind you, I still think they are above average, but because Innocent World is so above and beyond. They don’t have a fancy shopping cart system, you copy-paste from input boxes on the item page into an order form, which really is nothing more than a fancy email form. They email you order status and total by hand, and invoice you over paypal. It’s not a technically advanced system. Their international shop person only works a couple days a week. During sales times, that could mean a delay of almost a month for an order to be processed; but that’s ok. I don’t mind, because they have made me love them. Yes, of course, I get anxious when I don’t hear from them for a while after I put in an order; I’m a nervous person… but it’s always “perhaps the email server has eaten the email” in my mind, never “perhaps they won’t answer”.
They are incredibly human when you are ordering from them. There is this warmth, this sense of working with an actual person, who actually really cares that you are happy, that is absent from online sales almost everywhere else these days. When an item sells out, it’s not an automated “oops, sorry, we took this off because it’s sold out”, it’s a personalized email, and then, then they ask you if you want to change your order. All of it, any of it… I think I went through 2 or 3 different possible outfits with the poor international shop girl once. Which is crazy, and I was embarrassed for taking up that much of their time, but through the whole thing, she was polite, and helpful and sweet, and I ended up happy. Recently, they let me join a wait-list for a skirt that was sold out in case there were enough cancellations (there weren’t, but that’s ok). It’s not the kind of service you get in the western world, and, given the choice between ordering from, say Tokyo Rebel in New York, or directly from IW, I would go with IW, even if the shipping were more, because it’s worth the experience. Each package I’ve gotten from them comes with a little note, personalized with your name on it.
I have a bunch more of these now, and I keep them all up on a little photoboard on my wall with the postcards I’ve gotten from other brands.
As far as quality goes, Innocent World makes the highest quality items that I have the pleasure of having bought. The heirloom details, like tiny bows and pin-tucks have a degree of professionalism and complexity that show a real care and attention to detail. They tackle more complicated materials and construction details, from what I have seen, and the end result is more polished as well. On top of that, I’m quite fond of their lace choices, and the shape of their blouses.
At the same time, I don’t like everything that Innocent World makes; and to be honest, I probably dislike twice as many things from IW as I do from AP, and yet, I’m hard pressed to not call IW my favorite brand in and of itself, which I think is a testament to them as a company and the people they employ.
My current favorite 4 items from Innocent World
Lastly, there is an up-and-coming brand that I think I would be remiss not to mention, and that’s Haenuli. I’ve only purchased from her once (though I bought two dresses and head bows) but I was absolutely impressed by her professionalism, her communication through out the processes, the little freebies she included (I have a haenuli sleeping beauty print cloth to clean my glasses, no joke.) and how beautiful her work is in person. For now, Innocent World and AP top my list, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Haenuli was in one of those top spots a few years down the line.