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 ♥

How to Buy Putumayo Outside of Japan!

Putumayo is a great wash and wear casual lolita and punk brand. Most of the clothing Putumayo makes can be washed on the gentle cycle in the washing machine on cold (Velveteen or other special fabrics might not be though; I’ve never tried washing anything they have made of velveteen). Because they sell both punk and lolita items, not everything they sell is suitable for lolita. Putumayo’s lolita items tend to be short; I would recommend their pieces for people under 5’4″ (163cm). If you are taller, pay close attention to the lengths of the skirts and dresses. Some of their dresses are longer, but most are pretty short!

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Buying Putumayo New

Harajuku Hearts – Ships worldwide and they can special order anything that is in stock from Japan as long as you meet the minimum order amount.

If you would like an item that is listed in the primary label’s Japan website but is not listed in our store, we can place a special order if the item if it is still available. The rules for special orders are the following:

* $150 Minimum merchandise purchase are required for all Special orders.
* Special order services does not only apply sales, and exclusive regional store items.
* 50% non-refundable deposit required (charged after stock is confirmed and reserved)
* No cancellation, so make sure you’re absolutely sure before you commit.
* Patience, due to the nature of special orders.

Tokyo Rebel – Ships worldwide, and can also special order anything that is in stock in Japan as long as you meet the minimum order rules.

Minimum order: $50 *per item* (unless ordering three or more of the same item)
Maximum order: $1,000

Accessories usually cannot be special ordered in quantities of less than three per item. Please note that we are not a shopping service. We accept special orders as an extra service for the benefit of our customers, but we are a retail store ordering wholesale from our brands, so we cannot easily order single small items.

Putumayo Japan – You can buy from Putumayo Japan directly now using Tenso (Just like with AP Japan!).  There are instructions on the Putumayo site.

Kera Shop – You can use a shopping service like FromJapan to buy Putumayo from Kera Shop online.

Buying Putumayo Used

Putumayo is really, really cheap second hand aside from certain popular pieces!

It’s cheapest to get Putumayo on Auction from Yahoo! Japan Auctions, Mbok or Rakuten Auctions. However, you can also get it pretty cheap from second hand shops.


  • Shop In Wonderland – It’s run by people who are well known as shady people in the lolita community.
  • Toabao – It’s probably fake; a few places make replica Putumayo clothing items that cost more than buying the same thing second hand and are waaaay worse quality.
  • Ebay – Again, it’s often fake, unless it’s second hand, and even then it’s better to stick to reputable second hand sales platforms like lacemarket or egl-comm-sales.

Advice I Dissagree With: Garment Fit

So, I recently started using tumblr and I decided to follow a popular tips-and-tricks tumblr feed for lolita. Why? I don’t know. Half the time I read it, I run into mistakes which irk me, and tonight was no different.

Someone asked how much bigger clothes (garment size) should be than their body size and got an answer that basically went “most things have shirring, and so you should just be within the range, but if you are the same size as the maximum measurement, you should look for reviews because some brands run small”

Now, maybe the person who writes this column is a very small individual who simply has never run into that situation; I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that it’s something like that… but that’s really not the answer the person was asking for. Yes, your average sweet lolita JSK has some shirring in the back… but blouses? Not so much. Also, some classical brands like Victorian Maiden and Mary Magdalene rarely put shirring in their dresses, and while Innocent World offers many shirred JSKs, they usually don’t put shirring in their OPs or Blouses.

First of all, since it’s something a lot of people don’t pick up right away, Japanese brands don’t post size charts with the measurements of the people that fit in the garment. They post up the physical measurements of the outside of the garment, measured flat with a tape measure.

So, that said, if you are the same measurements as a blouse, it won’t fit. If it’s a button up blouse, or a blouse with pintucks… doubly so. (In fact, anything with pintucks can’t be too tight or it looks terrible, trust me. Been there, done that.)

Innocent world recommends that you buy clothing with a maximum measurement that is 4cm-5cm bigger than your measurements. This is not because the garments are flawed; it’s because human beings breathe and physics won’t let you occupy the same space as the fabric. Now, granted, you can physically put on a dress sometimes if you are the same (or, more rarely slightly larger) than the max measurements. That doesn’t mean it fits. It means your body is re-positioning you out of the way of the fabric. Unless the garment is a corset, or other similar garment, you don’t want this. First of all, it’s not flattering. Second of all, it puts strains on the seams, and if there is corset lacing in the back that goes through lace, it can destroy the lace. In an ideal world, you want to be able to take a deep breath and not have any resistance… but still not have your clothing be baggy.

So, now that we’ve established that; this extra space, or ease, should not be included in the measurements you give a shopping service when ordering on taobao. Taobao shops are asking for your exact body measurements, and then they add ease. If it’s winter, they add a lot of it for layering apparently, so you might consider looking up sizing reviews and possibly mention to your SS that you want the ease to be the summer amount if you are concerned. When you give measurements to a seamstress, you can specify that they are body measurements, though it’s typically assumed. If you measured a garment, and the measurements you are giving are garment measurements, you always want to mention that, because it’s usually not done that way.

Two more things to think about. If an Angelic Pretty item has shirring, but only one measurement is recorded on their site/hellolace/lolibrary, it’s the minimum measurement. If you are buying second hand on closet child and the measurement seems impossibly small (like a 35cm waist), double it. Sometimes they post flat measurements where they only measured across one side and haven’t doubled it. In those cases, they usually have not stretched the shirring all the way either so you can guesstimate another couple cm on shirred items (but not too many).

That said, if you buy an item with corset lacing and you are worried it won’t fit, try taking the lace-up ribbon out entirely before you try it on. As long as it’s not going through impossibly small holes, it shouldn’t be too terrible to put back in later, and it’s so much easier and a lot more accurate. If it’s looped through lace and you are closer to the maximum measurement than the minimum, you might consider just keeping it out so you don’t pull the lace.