Wednesday, 26 February 2014

My favourite (mostly Otome) Japanese brands....

Ok it would be a dream come true if any of these brands opened a shop in the UK but I highly doubt that will happen any time soon. I often think about what Japanese brands I would include if I were to open a hypothetical select shop, well here are a few;

The brands I would definitely put in my shop:

1. Emily Temple Cute

Macaron JSK

Without a doubt possibly my favourite Japanese brand. ETC never fail to produce cute prints in a range of designs. Luckily they have started to ship overseas so people around the world can enjoy the wondrous clothes of Emily Temple Cute. I found it quite hard to pick a few items of ETC that I like, I narrowed it down to the 'Macaron' print which was one of their very popular prints. I love the chiffon fabric and the lovely macaroons. ETC also make some lovely complimentary blouses, cut-sews and cardigans. I personally love the 'Melty' long cardigan.

Melty Cardigan

A melty chocolate cardigan wouldn't be complete without some sort of confectionery dress to match, since I've already mentioned the macaroons how about doughnuts? The lovely 'Cutlery and Doughnut' print looks good enough to eat. Unmistakably ETC, the cut of this jumperskirt is not only flattering but cute.

Cutlery and Doughnut jsk
 And finally one of the ETC I personally own and love, the 'Canned Fruit' print. A little like an Andy Warhol print but much cuter. I love the design of this one piece, the waist-bow and chiffon ruffle hem really add to this dress.

Canned Fruit OP
 2. Jane Marple 
Royal Order Mini OP
Jane Marple never fail to produce beautiful high quality pieces. Rich colours and ornate motifs feature highly on JM pieces. I love JM's use of the peter pan collar hence I picked out the 'Royal Order' OP as one of my favourite pieces, the print is so fantastically regal and I love the written text waist-belt. 

Alice print blouse
For the Alice print blouse JM took their wonderful print and featured it on a chiffon blouse with cute peter pan collar and removable neck-tie. I just love Alice prints and this one does not disappoint, every item in this collection is equally beautiful so I found it hard to choose one.

Flower lace collar OP
Jane Marple's non-printed dresses are equally delectable. I love how they pick out details such as the flower lace collar and buttons to make it a unique JM piece.  The only downside to Jane Marple is that their items are very expensive, a typical dress would be around ¥38,000 (around £220) making JM a higher end Otome/Lolita brand. I do find that JM items are of much higher quality than other brands.

3. Lois Crayon

Gobelin print coat
I love love LOVE this brand oh so much! Much like Jane Marple, Lois Crayon is a higher end brand in price and quality. Slightly shrouded in mystery as they do not have an online shop or sell anywhere online that I am aware of but the few items I have seen are gorgeous. I've picked out the gobelin fabric coat as a stand-out piece, simply because I love the fabric and the design which is not overly fussy. I have seen many gobelin coats which have over complicated designs, fur collars and lace which just clash with the fabric and print. LC manage to find the perfect balance with this piece.

Violet print jsk
Lois Crayon seem to have many 'Violet' print pieces, I believe it might be their most popular print. As I've featured the other Violet print jumperskirt on another post I shall put this version here. I love the cut of this dress and how the purple flowers stand out on the crisp white fabric. The cute wait-bow just brings the dress together perfectly.

A few Lois Crayon's skirts the names of which I do not know, I found them while browsing their shop blog. I love the musical note print skirt, the pleats and length look perfect.

Palace print jumperskirt
Finally, the 'Palace' print dress, it's the only piece I could find a modelled picture from so I had to include it. What's not to love? the lovely autumnal colours and lace v-neck collar are lovely. I really wish Lois Crayon items were more accessible and not just on second hand shops and auction sites

4. F.I.N.T/An Another Angelus

Fruit pattern OP
I'm not sure if F.I.N.T can be classified as a Otome brand or even a Gyaru brand but one things for sure they make beautiful feminine clothes. If I needed a cheaper brand for my hypothetical shop F.I.N.T would definitely be it, not as expensive as the other brands I have mentioned above but still on the pricier side of high street shops. I love the fruit patterned print of this dress and the cute lace collar, it's just perfect for spring. The length is not too long or short and the sleeves are very flattering. 

Rose print square collar blouse
How cute is this blouse? I must admit I thought the square collar was unusual but worn with a skirt or trousers it really stands out well. The rose print on the collar just elaborates on F.I.N.T's feminine aesthetic. Both these items are from F.I.N.T's sub-brand An Another Angelus. The staff always look like they are having a fun time I mean I would too if I could wear those clothes everyday ^_^

A few brands that I might put in my shop:

1. Ank Rogue

Ribbon lace up pumps
Predominantly a brand for Gyaru, I think Ank Rouge still has many items that can be worn into any style. Much like these ribbon lace-up pumps which are similar to rocking horse shoes and wouldn't be out of place in a Lolita outfit.

Antique embroidered blouse
I do like a good blouse, especially ones with a unique collar and pin-tuck detail. Not to mention the airy chiffon material, again perfect for spring.

2. L'est Rose

Gobelin dress

I especially love L'est Rose's gobelin fabric items, right about autumn they always release such lovely gobelin fabric dresses. They are always a hit and rightly so! Much like F.I.N.T, L'est Rose features highly on the feminine designs, a lot of floral and pastel colours here.

3. Juliette et Justine

Rosery Solennel jumperskirt
ロゼリィ ソラネル ローブ
It would be quite an extravagant edition to my shop but I just love everything Juliette et Justine do. The prints are always beautiful and I really like that JetJ are not afraid to experiment with different cuts and style of dress.

I am sure there are plenty more Japanese fashion brands that I could include in my (fake) shop, I think it would make a pretty fantastic shop to be honest, if only I had the money and the connections. If you had to choose any brands for your own shop what would they be? I'd love to know.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Angelic Pretty 'Classic Garden' (クラシックガーデン) Series

Today Angelic Pretty released a series called 'Classic Garden'. Normally I am not one for AP's sweet style but this classic design stood out to me. I love the textured Broderie Anglaise material and the cute design. It proves AP can do classic just as well as they do sweet. Both Jumperskirt and One Piece version come in 3 colours; White, Ivory and Black.
Classic Garden OP
I prefer the OP to the JSK in this series mainly because of the Peter Pan collar and the puffball sleeves. The Broderie Anglaise material makes this perfect for the springtime and adds to the classic feel. The bottom lace part is a thinner embroidered material.

Also I love how the top portion of the bodice is a more sheer material, the contrast of materials gives the neckline a more feminine appearance. Sheer fabrics are still very much in this season so AP are not missing out on this trend.

The collar bow and waist ties are removable so this dress can be worn quite casually too without a petticoat. Maybe for a nice picnic? who knows.

Classic Garden JSK
The Jumperskirt features cute bow detail on the bodice and the waist belt. I'm not sure but it looks like the waist bow could be an organza type material. Both the JSK and OP are 100% cotton which makes it ideal for spring/summer.

 The back of the JSK features a corset type lace-up as well as shirring to accommodate more sizes. I normally don't like lace-up backs for dresses but this one looks really tidy and suits the style of JSK quite well.

As I mentioned I really love the embroidered lace at the bottom, the JSK features two rows of lace instead of one like the OP.

Overall I really love this series, I hope AP Continue to make more in the same vein. Already this series has proved to be a hit, both the international and Japanese site has sold out of most of the OP's and the Ivory colourway of the JSK's. The OP version seems to be the favourite.

What do you think of this AP release?
If you like the design of the Classic Garden Series, many other classic brands have done a similar style:

Innocent World 'Frigg' Jumperskirt
Innocent World 'Roman Playing Cards' Op
Mary Magdalene 'Claudette' OP

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Taobaospree Review 2014 - Part 1

First of all I'd like to apologise for being lacklustre with the entries, part of the reason being my inability to complete anything. I had many ideas in my head, just never got around to making a post.  I feel as though I need to continue because my cousin made me this lovely tea party themed layout for this blog, it would be a shame for it to go to waste.

Well here I am one year later, still buying from Taobao >_> who'da thunk it? You would think the shipping cost from my last order (Read here) would be enough to put me off, well you'd be wrong! haha. I think most people who buy from Taobao using an agent have come to expect the astronomical shipping fees. This makes the prospect of buying items from Taobao less cost effective as I have shown in my previous post. I had all but given up on Taobao, as it's probably cheaper to buy from Chinese sellers directly on Ebay.

That until I decided I wanted an underskirt similar to the ones being sold at Juliette et Justine. These beautiful chiffon layered skirts looked amazing underneath any dress or even on their own. I really wanted to buy one but couldn't justify the 25,200 Yen (nearly £150) price-tag.

Juliette et Justine 'Petal de Rose'

Juliette et Justine 'Robe du Azrael'

Failing to find any similar cheaper underskirts in various other places (Ebay, Etsy etc) I decided to look at Taobao Lolita shops and came across one in a shop called Little Dipper for a fraction of the cost of JetJ's. Many other Lolita's vouch for the quality of this skirt so I decided to give it a go.

Little Dipper 卡斯达1
Currently on pre-order the skirt costs 253 Yuan (around £25) and comes in 8 colours and a variety of lengths. I chose the brown colour as it would compliment my classic themed items well. I felt like I couldn't just order one item so I searched around for a few more items I could add before I made an order. So in total 4 items, yep not much at all.

Somehow I seem to always coincide my orders with Chinese New Year, this is not purposely done just coincidently. I would not recommend this as orders get backed up so it might take more time for your agent to get back to you and most Taobao shops close during this time.

This time I decided to use Taoboaspree, as I felt they would be more efficient and since I was ordering a pre-order item it would be easier to talk to a person rather than randomly leaving messages in cyberspace, as was my experience with Taobaoring.  Taobaospree's service fee is slightly more expensive than Taobaoring at 10% but you get a more personal experience I think.

The ordering process for Taobaospree is slightly more tedious than Taoboaring's as you have to individually add items to an excel spreadsheet which you download from their website.

The document has two spreadsheets, one without insurance (the main spreadsheet) and the second one with 5% Paypal insurance. I'm not exactly sure if the insurance refers to shipping insurance or something else, I am assuming that you are covered by Paypal Buyer Protection when you pay unless you chose to 'Gift' the amount to Taobaospre. Also I am sure that full value insurance is included with EMS shipping unless you choose to mark your items down in value.

Firstly you have to fill out the fields that are highlighted green, Name, Address etc. and  whether you would like your items sent via EMS. Also you can use the empty fields at the top to write any notes for delivery e.g. customs declaration or how you would like the items packaged.

The first two columns do not need to be filled in. The next three (TB Seller, Name and URL) do have to be filled in with the correct item details. It's better to copy and paste these in the untranslated format so that it doesn't get confusing.

The next columns to fill in would be Quantity, Price, Shipping (This is for domestic shipping and sometimes it is not clear so you can leave this field blank for Taobaospree to fill in if you are not sure.) and Buyer Comments. The skirt I wanted to order was a pre-order item and required a deposit of 80 Yuan. The full price of the skirt was 253 Yuan so I put that in the 'Price' field. Now when filling in the 'Buyer Comments' section it is best to have a translated version of the page open as well as a non translated version so you can copy and paste the Chinese text directly. The 'Buyer Comments' section is used to write any information on the colour, size, length or anything regarding the item.

Once I had completed the form I emailed it to Taobaospree (email address is on their webpage) 07/02/14. I got an automated message saying that they had just got back from Chinese New Year holiday and had a backlog that they were currently going through.  A few days later (10/02/14) I got a message from the agent Cici asked if I would like to proceed with the order because the skirt would take 1 month to manufacture. Also she asked for my waist measurement as I had forgot to note that down. I emailed back saying I was prepared to wait and gave my waist measurement. The next day Cici emailed me asking to pay the total amount (The Balance figure on the spreadsheet) to Taobaospree's Paypal account. After paying I emailed Cici letting her know and she emailed me back the following day she will buy the items now.

Here are a few pro and cons of using Taobaospree as your agent from my experience so far.
  • The Taobaospree agents speak very good English so there's no need to worry that they won't understand you. The are very helpful and polite.
  • Taobaospree respond very quickly to any questions and are quick to confirm your order once you place it. 
  • They will mark down your package.
  • There is a wide variety of shipping options available, including discounted EMS.
  • The spreadsheet system is quite tedious and mistakes can easily be made
  • The service fee is 10% which is quite high compared to some others.
  • You can't easily keep check of the status of your items without asking your agent for a update. Taobaoring's website made this very easy to do.
Hopefully in a month or so my items will have arrived and I can do a more thorough review.