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.


Girlism: A Chinese Lolita Fashion Magazine

Girlism Volume 6

I’ve been “reading” Girlism since they started publication (I say “reading” because I can’t read a single word of Chinese, so it’s more of just a picture book to me), and it’s quickly becomes one of my favorite lolita fashion publications. I just picked up volume 6, shown above.

Each issue comes with gifts, and I’m not talking just a post card (though they do often include those!). This particular issue came with a heavy duty screen print canvas tote bag from Yolanda…

20170506_142038 20170506_142052
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this set of post-card sized prints from Yolanda in a sheer envelope,
two cute postcards from the Japanese otome brand, Leur Getter,
…and a big double sided poster!
Here are the front and back covers of the latest issue. One thing I will note is that shipping inside of China is a little rough. Some of the issues (including this one) have gotten to my shopping service with busted corners. One of the earlier issues came with a clear file that got shattered in the mail. It’s definitely happening before it gets to my shopping service or at the office of my shopping service though, as they are putting them in the middle of a package full of lace for their trip overseas.
Overall, the photo quality in Girlism is really high, as is the print quality. It’s nicer, IMHO, than Kera or the GLB. Here is a quick flip through of the latest issue. It features Japanese brands like Angelic Pretty, Innocent World, Baby and Meta, as well as the best of Chinese lolita brands.

Each issue is 80 yuan + 10 yuan shipping inside of China, which comes out to about $13 USD. Some of the nicer gifts are limited to the first x-number sold though, so to get the most for your money, order early! Some of the past gifts I’ve gotten included a peel-off lip stain, a Berry-Q heart shaped pouchette, Baby the Stars Shine Bright Clear files and a ton of post cards and stationary.

A Raine-y Wardrobe ~ 2014 Edition

Last year I shared my wardrobe and my library.
This year, I’m going the more traditional route and just sharing my wardrobe.

Alice and the Pirates Briar Rabbit’s Paysage JSK II and
Juliette et Justine Le Cadre du Lapin JSK
Alice and the Pirates Wicked Queen’s Poison Cellar JSK II and
Innocent World Flower Garden JSK
Angelic Pretty Wonder Queen Soldier JSK x 2 Excentrique Original Print “Crown and Lion Motif” JSK and
Alice and the Pirates Elizabeth Bride of the Death JSK II
Angelic Pretty Day Dream Carnival Tiered JSK with
Day Dream Carnival Echarpe and
Angelic Pretty Day Dream Carnival Twilight Set(oops, I forgot to put the chiffon puff back on the lavender JSK)
Angelic Pretty Candy Sprinkle JSK
Leif My Tart JSK (International Re-release) and
Angelic Pretty Sugar Fairy Cake Halterneck JSK
Angelic Pretty Star Night Theater Bare Top JSK and
Angelic Pretty Star Night Theater OP
Alice and the Pirates Masquerade Theater JSK and
Infanta Powers and Thrones JSK
Innocent World Charles Crown OP and
Surface Spell Judgement Day Long OP
Innocent World Grazia Crown and
Alice and the Pirates Chandelier Flocky
Innocent World Sukeā? Rococo JSK and
Angelic Pretty Ball JSK (I believe this is a later re-release of the Ball JSK, as it’s not made of velveteen like the 2004 version)
Innocent World Rabbit Letter JSK and
Innocent World Luna Stripe JSK
Innocent World Royal Crown Embroidery OP and
Innocent World Rocaille Playing Cards JSK
Innocent World Ribbon Crown and
Haenuli Sleeping Beauty OP and
Innocent World Crown Embroidery JSK
Haenuli Sleeping Beauty Special Edition OP and
Innocent World Stripe Jacquard Bustle JSK
Innocent World Round Collar Ribbon OP and
Alice and the Pirates 2012 Lucky Pack JSK
Angelic Pretty Cherry Print JSK and
Angelic Pretty Shoulder Ribbon JSK
Angelic Pretty Toy March JSK and
Innocent World Strawberry Fields JSK
Innocent World Emblem Embroidery JSK and
Innocent World Chess Print JSK (From Special Set)
Innocent World Roman Trump OP and
Innocent World Beatrice JSK
Angelic Pretty Fruits Parlor JSK and
Angelic Pretty Miracle Candy JSK
Angelic Pretty Dream Magic JSK and
Angelic Pretty Chest Ribbon Strawberry Floral JSK
Angelic Pretty French Doll Low Waist JSK and
Maxicimam Strawberry Lace Ribbon JSK
Metamorphose Balloon Popping JSK and
Angelic Pretty Dressing Up Jabot JSK
Angelic Pretty Candy Pop JSK and
Baby The Stars Shine Bright Strawberry Cherry Ruffle JSK
(the red Angelic Pretty JSK is missing it’s middle button. If anyone has a spare they would be willing to part with, I’m looking for one. I got fabric to make a new button, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet, even though I said the same thing last year.)
         Lief Sacred Night JSK and
Innocent World Antique Book JSK
Innocent World Flora JSK and
the Snowfield JSK
Innocent World Crown Embroidery and
A lovely floral JSK from Miscy.There is a lovely chiffon underskirt that goes with this Miscy JSK, and a velveteen sash. This photo does it no justice.
Innocent World Royal Library Ribbon JSK and
Innocent World Chocolate Fountain JSK
Putumayo Stripe 2WAY Halter JSK
Angelic Pretty Dressy Eternal JSK Putumayo Crown Check Ruffle Jsk
Angelic Pretty Dream Fantasy Pina Sweet Chiffon Ruffle OP
Chantilly Phantom Merry Go Round Skirt from
Harajuku Hearts Special Set
Angelic Pretty skirt from Fancy Bustier and Skirt Set
Angelic Pretty Sleeping Princess Skirt Angelic Pretty Sleeping Princess Skirt
Innocent World Atropos Skirt Juno Skirt (Re-release)
Innocent World Chandelier Skirt (front) Innocent World Chandelier Skirt (back)
Metamorphose Horse Print Skirt Baby the Stars Shine Bright Dripping Lace Rococo Accessories Skirt
Bodyline g1265 Candy Skirt Bodyline g1265 Candy Skirt
Angelic Pretty Rockabilly Dot Skirt Putumayo Cat Note Round Skirt
Angelic Pretty Dot Angel Pony Applique Skirt Angelic Pretty ???
Angelic Pretty Sweet Ribbon Strawberry Skirt Meta Candy House Skirt
Angelic Pretty Strawberry Picking Skirt Angelic Pretty Gingham Triple Tiered Skirt
Angelic Pretty Pastel à la Mode Skirt Angelic Pretty Star Night Theater Skirt
Baby the Stars Shine Bright Clockwork Teaparty Skirt Jane Marple Chandelier Print
Meta Lucky Pack Skirt
(This is really weird in that is has white lace, and cafe au lait ribbons. I’ve been debating about just dying the lace or selling it because I don’t wear it much)
Taobao (R-series, I think)
Bodyline (This is one of the first pieces I ever bought. I knew that I liked bright colors, but I hadn’t really solidified what bright colors worked well for lolita yet, and I’m really not sure why it’s a classic/old school cut and a deco-sweet color/pattern…) Bodyline
Putumayo Autumn Garden Scalloped SK Ma MAXICIMAM Punk Lolita Mini Skirt
(it has a tail that buttons onto the tag that I never use XD)
Angelic Pretty Dream Doll Skirt Angelic Pretty Day Dream Carnival SK
Excentrique Angelic Pretty Bustier from Fancy Bustier and Skirt Set
Innocent World bolero in wine Same bolero in bown I also have a cream one which I missed
Angelic Pretty Tote and Parka Putumayo Cutsews
Angelic Pretty Angelic Pretty
Angelic Pretty Angelic Pretty
Angelic Pretty Angelic Pretty
Putumayo Cutsew and
Angelic Pretty Cardigan
Innocent World bolero and
Angelic Pretty Cutsew
Angelic Pretty and Bodyline (dyed pink by my girlfriend. I have another copy of the same blouse that is dyed a light teal as well) Innocent World
Innocent World Innocent World
Bodyline and Taobao Meta
Innocent World Innocent World
Innocent World Musette Bustier, Innocent World Blouse Angelic Pretty Lucky Pack Coat
Metamorphose Vest
(anyone know anything about this? like when this came out?)
Angelic Pretty Cutsew
Angelic Pretty Toy Drops Cutsew Op and Angelic Pretty Blouse
Offbrand Cardigan and Jacket Infanta
Innocent World (sorry this is out of order) Floral corsages I made to pin to my Pina Sweet OP, Baby the Stars Shine Bright tiara, floral comb from taobao and some pins to go with Elizabeth bride of death.
Angelic Pretty, Innocent World, Innocent World, Angelic Pretty, Angelic Pretty, Angelic Pretty, Meta, Angelic Pretty, Modcloth Star Tights, Offbrand tights Back row Angelic Pretty, front row Grimoire, Grimoire and Spica
Innocent World, Innocent World, Angelic Pretty, Innocent World
Innocent World, Alice and the Pirates, Angelic Pretty, Innocent World
Angelic Pretty
Alice and the pirates, Innocent World, Chantilly, Putumayo,
Innocent World, Angelic Pretty, Angelic Pretty, Offbrand
Victorian Maiden
Back center Boom Design, Front Baroque Antaina shoe bows ( there is another pair of lavender and one of the sax ones has a missing match…)
Angelic Pretty and Alice and the Pirates tights, Innocent World socks.
Innocent World, Alice and the Pirates Alice and the Pirates
Offbrand (Craft Store), Baby the Stars Shine Bright Offbrand (taobao), Offbrand (modcloth)
Alice and the pirates, Innocent World Angelic Pretty, Bodyline, Innocent World
Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Shirley Temple Angelic Pretty, Angelic Pretty
Baby the Stars Shine Bright Innocent World
Angelic Pretty Putumayo, Offbrand
Sweet Mildred antique book headpieces
Each of these features an actual miniature antique book.
Sweet Mildred Headpieces. The left and right were convention purchases, the center one was commissioned to match Innocent World’s beatrice.
Sweet Mildred Headpieces.
The left was commissioned to match the Pina Sweet OP above.
The center is from her etsy.
The right was commissioned to match Angelic Pretty’s black dressy eternal JSK.
Now Voyager Animal hair clips
Angelic Pretty Angelic Pretty
Angelic Pretty Back row is Angelic Pretty, front is Innocent World
Angelic Pretty Back most bow is from Sweet Mildred, others are Angelic Pretty
Angelic Pretty, Alice and the pirates, Leif Back are Baby the stars shine bright, front is Angelic Pretty
Angelic Pretty Angelic Pretty
Angelic Pretty, Innocent World and Sweet Mildred Innocent World
Offbrand (teal), Innocent World, Innocent World, Innocent World(Nicholas Fruit), Heart E (plaid), Innocent World, Offbrand
Offbrand (top), Innocent World, Innocent World, Alice and the Pirates, Alice and the Pirates, Haenuli
Putumayp (stripes) with offbrand pin,
Innocent World Canotier and comb
Angelic Pretty Combs, Haenuli Headbow,
Taobao headband (brown) and offbrand (clair’s) lace headband
Detachable bows from Innocent World, Innocent World Crown hair tie (I have two)
3 Paris kids barrettes (far left, bottom 3), offbrand.
two innocent world Jabots and a pin on bow from Sweet Mildred.
Bodyline headbow, 6%DokiDoki (Dark Pink & Blue) & Chocomint Angelic Pretty Barrettes and Canotier
Innocent World My derpy pirate had that I decorated. I have an Angelic Pretty ribbon badge that I pin on in the center
Some of my flower collection some of my bow collection
Fake pearls from Paris Kids, Innocent World & Offbrand Metal Necklaces, brooches, bracelets, hair tie and shoe clips (Paris kids, chocomint, Temple St. Claire, Etsy, Bodyline, Offbrand)
AatP wrist cuffs, Innocent world pearl chokers, Moss Marchen Apple Necklace and Ring, Belladonna anchor necklace, putumayo waist chain. Angelic Pretty crown necklace, Innocent world heart ring, and angel wing ring, Angelic Pretty navy and yellow star rings, putumayo butterfly oval rights, angelic pretty crown chocolate ring, moss badger bunny necklace and puppy ring. Innocent world velvet bow, downton abby gold scallop necklace… Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Pink x red wrist cuffs are belladonna, others are Angelic Pretty book necklace was made by milkteamilk, biscut pin and gold bow by sweet mildred. Ribbon Groupie barette is from Misako’s brand. Alice and the pirates eye patch. Assored Angelic Pretty, Indie and chocomint makes up the rest. Chocomint, 6% dokidoki, indie and Angelic Pretty
I found more bows! Also Indie/handmade, Chocomint & Offbrand. Meta, baby, chocomint & offbrand
Chocomint bows & Bracelets. Yellow & Bubble ones are 6%DokiDoki Gold Star bangles are offbrand, ones with music clefs & Stars are chocomint, all else is Angelic Pretty
Angelic pretty & Chocomint Chocomint, Angelic Pretty & Meta
Sorry for the bad photos, I totally forgot both of these things. Handmade clockwork crown. Handmade carousel headdress (sooorry, I need to take a better photo, this was from when I was making it)
Offbrand Offbrand
Offbrand (Union Bay), Vivienne Westwood x Melissa Offbrand
Bodyline, Offbrand Bodyline
offbrand Offbrand
Vivienne Westwood x Melissa, Angelic Pretty Vivienne Westwood x Melissa

While I think I captured all my dresses and skirts this year aside from a couple under skirts and a couple Cornet skirts which need to be repaired and one taobao dress, I only did about a third of my blouses and half of my socks, and I know I’m missing a bunch of accessories. I have a bad habit of leaving accessories in my purse or tote after an event and I didn’t check all of my bags. I also missed all my parasols.

Sorry not everything is named; if you want to know more about anything, just ask.

In the mail:

Innocent World Shaw and Shoes, F.i.n.t. Skirts (not strickly lolita, but I think they are cute.), and bodyline heels in brown and wine.

Thank you for looking!