Friday, December 25, 2020

Happy Holidays!!

Not everyone gets time off around the holidays, and in 2020 the holidays are an even weirder time than usual.  I hope that wherever you are that you're doing well, hanging in there, and that next year has lots of good things in store.  May you find some time to connect with people you love, enjoy a hot drink and have a sweet treat.

From left to right we have a gothic and OTT sweet lolita working on a snow-usakumya, an ouji serving hot chocolate to a sweet lolita wrapping presents, a classic lolita bringing people gingersnaps, and an oldschool lolita decorating a moi-même-moitié themed tree. It's lightly snowing and they're in front of a log cabin, decorated with colourful string lights, on a small hill in a pine tree forest.
From left to right we have a gothic and OTT sweet lolita working on a snow-usakumya, an ouji serving hot chocolate to a sweet lolita wrapping presents, a classic lolita bringing people gingersnaps, and an oldschool lolita decorating a Moi-Même-Moitié themed tree.

Stay safe out there! May Misako bless us and Mana forgive us~
A warm dark beverage in teacup with a strawberry design on it. It's sitting on a saucer along with a small stirring spoon. There's a dollop of whipped cream and puffs of steam rising from the drink.
Yours truly,
The humble lolotos and oujis of Quills & Frills

Art by Rooibos

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Big Frocking Replica Debate Explained

Fake, imitation, counterfeit or replica are all synonyms for an item that is not the real thing.

Lolita is a niche fashion that has a lot of small companies, private indie designers, love for quality and special attention to small details. As such, replica items are not well received in the lolita community and there have been discussions and debate about buying and owning them since the beginning of the fashion.

Why not buy a replica item?

Buying a replica is theft.

Art / prints used on lolita items are copyrighted and printing their art for commercial purposes is illegal.

It hurts the designer / company that created the product and kills the fashion we love.

When a company produces a lolita item, it requires a lot of investment (paying the designer, putting together the sewing pattern, costs of maintaining a store / website, etc.) they need to generate a certain profit to continue to exist. Once people buy a replica product, the money does not go to whoever worked on the real product. There have been cases of stores and designers that collapsed and disappeared due to replicas.

The garment you will receive will not be as in the pictures, or in the quality of the original item.

Usually companies that create replica items attract buyers with the help of the product's print and do not invest in the quality of the product itself. Therefore you will not get a product of the same quality as the original and in a fashion like lolita which emphasizes quality, it is a very important thing.

Why do people still buy replicas?

Here are some common reasons:

The original item can no longer be bought.

Usually original items are produced in limited editions and a certain number of items, so if the item you want is no longer in the store you probably will not be able to buy the item first hand. Despite this- there is an amazing and very active second hand market for lolita clothes! There is no bad stigma in buying second-hand lolita clothes, on the contrary - it is accepted and very common. And you can also find cheaper things than buying directly from the brand (And everyone loves getting a good deal!) There have also been cases where the brand sees that a particular item is very popular, and decides to re-release the item.

The original item is too expensive for me.

As mentioned above, creating an original item costs a lot of money, and the brands need a profit to continue producing more items. Buying a replica may sound like a good idea, but it actually kills the fashion and brand you love. If you really like the item, invest in it so that there are more items you will love in the future!

The original item is not my size.

Lolita fashion started in Japan, where the average sizes are usually smaller than the sizes in the West, but over time most brands realized that they also sell to audiences outside of Japan and increased their sizing accordingly. Still, sometimes there are items that just won’t be your size, but that's still not a good reason to support replicas. You can send a respectful message to the brand and show that there is a demand for larger sizes, buy the original item and take it to the seamstress to change the sizes, or contact private designers who can create a similar custom lolita item so you can get a special original fitted item for you!

I'm still not 100% sure I want to wear lolita fashion and just want to experiment.

Sometimes original items from bigger lolita brands seem expensive for beginners, but remember that an original item usually also retains a certain value. So if you decide that lolita fashion is not for you, you can sell the original item and recoup some of the investment. Plus, you can always start with a second-hand item, or an item in a similar style from another brand that is cheaper. 

Remember that you do not have to buy well-known Japanese burando to wear a lolita and no community will laugh at you for not wearing a dress from a "well-known brand" as long as you are well-dressed and in accordance with the lolita fashion rules.

Why would a big brand care if I buy a replica?

As mentioned, brands need to make a profit to continue to exist. Lolita brands, even the largest and most well-known, are still small boutiques that appeal to the field of niche fashion, which does not bring in large sums like the big companies we are used to from mainstream fast fashion. So if you love lolita fashion it's important to support them!

It can be a bit tricky spotting a replica when just starting out. Here are some tips to help you avoid them.

How to spot a replica product:

  • The store does not write the brand name that designed the item

  • There is a brand name on the item that does not match the store name

  • The store / brand that sells the item is known as a store that sells replicas.

Brands sites known for selling replicas:

Oo jia, Dream of Lolita, Jill Punk x Loli, Milanoo

Milanoo has several different stores and you can find a list of them here

  • The photos of the item have been stolen from another site.

If you see items with a lot of photos in different styles there is a chance that the photo was stolen from another site. Most often the brand has several house models and their own aesthetics for photography. A good way to check the source of an image is to do a Google reverse image search of it. You can save the image locally to your computer and run it in Google's search engine to see if the site where you saw it is indeed the original site that offered the item for sale.

  • The name of the product is generic, and looks like a combination of random words in order for it to appear in the search engine. (E.g. "Strawberry Lolita Dress Harajuku Kawaii Cosplay"), or the use of general anime and Japanese culture keywords, rather than keywords commonly used in the lolita community (such as "anime girl", "kawaii", as opposed to use of "JSK").

  • The appearance of the item is different from the original item (different color, different lace, small details that are missing…)

  • On Taobao and other Chinese language websites they'll sometimes use the "Mountain" character 山 as an euphemism for replicas.

  • The price is suspiciously low. Sometimes you can find an amazing deal on lolita items, but remember that if something is too good to be true it most likely isn’t.

Still not sure you are buying an original item? You can always ask your community or Facebook groups!

Examples of the sale of replica items:

As written in the description the dress is from Jill Punk x Loli and it is a replica of Toy Fantasy from Angelic Pretty. In addition, one can see the name of the original brand in the print of the dress, and that it is not the store advertised as the item source.

In this store they used a generic name and did not write the brand name in the description. The original dress is A Full Moon Night by Haenuli. The price is also suspiciously low for an OP.

An example of a fake item from Dream of Lolita (Right) compared to the original Wonder Cookie by Angelic Pretty (Left)

Is an item still a replica even when it has no print?

There are many items in Lolita that are without art / print, but are still very much associated with a particular brand. Such items are considered "iconic design" and a design that is exactly the same is a replica even without art / print.

Comparison of an original iconic item from the brand Mary Magdalene (right) and the cheap imitation (left) credit to 20dollarlolita.

On the other hand, there are items that are more generic (like a star-shaped bag or shoes with ribbons.) That are not identified with a particular brand and are not counterfeit as long as the item does not have a brand name that is not the one that produces the item.

The difference between imitation and inspiration:

Sometimes designers think of a similar idea or theme for an item. As long as there is some difference between the items they are not a replica.

Some brands are known for taking inspiration from items from different brands, but as long as it is not exactly the same and there are design changes it is not a replica. The buyer can decide which item they prefer.

Wait, but I saw the same print on original products from different brands?

Sometimes brands (even the largest ones) buy a fabric that has been pre-printed by the fabric manufacturer and already comes with a certain print, and at the same time another brand may also decide to use the same type of fabric for a different garment. In both cases both items will be an original product that happens to use the same type of fabric. This is called a “Commercially Available Fabric” and sometimes you can also buy it privately for your own creations!

But how do I support the brand when I only buy second hand?

Compared to replica items when buying an original item, even second hand, the money from the initial purchase goes to the brand that designed the garment and not to the company that stole the design.

In addition, when buying second hand there is a possibility that the seller will use the money to buy more original brand items. Buying an original item also gives you an opportunity to see their quality for yourself, and perhaps as a result you will decide to buy from the brand directly in the future.

The store I want to buy from has both original and replica items. Should I buy from them?

My recommendation - no. Although you are buying an original product, you also support a store that sells replicas. Usually in such cases it is possible to buy the original item from another source and not support replicas.

There are also stores that sold replicas in the past but today only sell original items such as Fan + Friend. In these cases, there is no moral problem to buy from them.

But I've bought a replica item in the past, what should I do with it?

Just acknowledge that you have already made the mistake. I hope that with the help of this guide you will learn and next time you will not buy a replica :)

In my personal opinion it is better not to wear the replica for lolita meet-ups or events, and especially not lie that the item is not replica, because it is something that can be easily identified through a skilled enough eye.

You can use fabric to create other creations (pillows, clothes for dolls…) but in the end it is still your own garment and you can use it as you see fit.

May your petticoats always be fluffy,

Milk Tea

Friday, December 11, 2020

Casual Lolita: The Forgotten Substyle

The online lolita community has this collective amnesia about casual lolita, a substyle that seems to be largely dead these days. Casual lolita peaked around 2008-2012, featuring cutsews, parkas, miniskirts and the like. However, nowadays people call things casual lolita when you’re looking at a lolita coord that is actually more suited for daily wear, such as a coord omitting a wig, using solid colored legwear and fewer accessories. I tend to refer to these sorts of coords as “Toned down lolita.” Toned down coords are super wearable and can be a great way to wear your wardrobe less ostentatiously. 

I think casual is most often seen in its sweet variants, particularly because cutsews and parkas lend themselves really well to sweet. However, some of the earlier examples of casual lolita come from Putumayo, and have a sort of street wear punk or gothic vibe.
(GLB 24 Feb 2007)
The defining characteristics of a casual lolita coord are: knit upper pieces-- cutsews, parkas, cardigans, cutsew OPs; shorter skirts-- mini skirts, dropped waist, salopettes; no or low poof skirts; and flat or low heel shoes-- flat/low heeled tea parties, colorful beribboned sneakers, flatform sneakers or creepers for punk or gothic flavored looks. You don’t necessarily need all of these variables to make a casual coord of course, but a good number of these will get you headed in the right direction. A lot of the typical lolita-adjacent brands (Milk, BPN, Amavel, Jane Marple, Emily Temple Cute) have pieces that work really well for casual.

Casual lolita is not just a complete lolita coordinate that isn’t OTT. It does not mean you don’t wear wigs/style your hair or don’t wear makeup. It’s still about looking polished. It has a distinctly more street wear feel to it. Here are some brand examples of casual coords:
(Angelic Pretty, Cream Cookie Collection, 2014)
(Angelic Pretty, Love! Denim Salopette, 2011)
(Metamorphose temps de fille, Trump Poodle Short Sleeve T-Shirt, 2008)

And a couple of non-brand-advertisement example coords, in each three main substyles, used with permission:

(Sweet casual ft Angelic Pretty by @rosequartzroyalty)

(Sweet/Gothic casual ft Angelic Pretty Holy Lantern Dropped Waist Skirt by @kDycu)
(Sweet/Classic Casual ft Angelic Pretty Chocolate Rosette Skirt by @ladyalicelily)
Casual lolita can be a great way to wear lolita on a more day-to-day basis, especially if you have to do a lot of commuting! Plus, it can be easy to try out without having to buy a ton of new things. Try taking an existing JSK you own and wearing a parka or cutsew sweater over the top! You may find a whole new way of coording your items!

Yours truly,

Friday, December 4, 2020

What is a Dream Dress?

If you head into any lolita community, online or in real life, you're more than likely going to hear talk of what someone's "Dream Dress" is. Either how hard someone is looking for it, how they cried upon finally receiving it, or how they had an East Ender's Vanessa Gold level tantrum upon missing out on it. 
But what actually is a “Dream Dress”? A lot of newer lolitas will see a brand new release that hasn't even come out yet and declare that this is now their dream dress, or they'll see something that is currently available and they're planning on buying it as their dream dress. To run the risk of sounding like a dang, dirty, gatekeeping nitpicker, I would argue that neither of these cases qualify as "Dream Dresses". A dream dress does not merely hit you upside the cranium with an aluminum baseball bat. There also to be a certain level of scarcity or inaccessibility for it as well (this goes for any "Dream" item). Whether it be that the dream item is out of your price range and you have to save up for a long time, or that by the time you started wearing lolita fashion and were able to afford it, the item is no longer readily available.

If you can buy it on the release day or the moment you see it, then you can merely call it a wishlist item. Or, if it really hits you that hard, a "Soul Dress". Yes, I made that phrase up. A soul dress is a dress that really speaks to you, when something about it just clicks and clicks HARD. So, it can work as a "dress I absolutely love, but it is not a Dream Dress". A dream dress does not necessarily need to be a soul dress either - A "Grail Piece" is a term already in use that describes your ultimate dream dress. The one that hits you hard (as in a soul piece) and is usually (though not always) a big pain in the rear to find. Some common examples of this are Angelic Pretty’s Puppet Circus, Rose Ribbon Embroidery JSK in white (from Baby the Stars Shine Bright), the red Elizabeth OP (also from Baby), or Moi-même-Moitié’s Iron Gate.
Now, some of you may feel put out by me saying: "That dress Angelic Pretty dropped a month ago that you bought on release day (or within days of it dropping) is not a Dream Dress." And that's fine, but let me tell you something - you do not NEED a dream dress. You don't even need a soul dress, especially not right away. It's okay that the Little Witch JSK you got in the bloodbath or Neverland/Soufflesong’s Wishing Stars JSK from a reseller doesn't qualify as a dream dress. Having a dream dress does not make you more of a lolita compared to those who don't have one.

Do a lot of lolitas have dream dresses starting out? Yes, I did, however it's honestly not required to have one. The part of the "lolita experience" that dream dresses occupy is the actual hunting and searching for the dream dress. Buying a newly released dress as a dream dress feels nothing like the screaming rush of seeing your dream dress listed second hand at a scalped price, and then feeling like you're fighting seconds to get it. And then when you are finally told that you've gotten it, the tear inducing joy that you've finally acquired it- it is coming home. Your weary and obsessive search is over. After months, maybe years, or maybe even going into over a decade for some. Everyday you checked all of the second hand markets you knew of, and everyday you were disappointed. But, at long last, when that package lands in your shaking hands as you eagerly cut into that cardboard (carefully I hope!) and you take that dress out, you get a feeling of joy that cannot be beat. You hug that dress to your chest as tightly as you can. It's yours. Your own. Your precious.

That is what a “Dream Dress” is!

Until Next Time~

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

♡ Welcome to Quills & Frills ♡

When I first discovered lolita fashion in the mid-2000s, a lot of the community and resources existed on blogs and forums. There was a certain magical feeling to the blogs and forums and the lore which it contained. Over the years, the lolita fashion community has moved away from LiveJournal and personal blogs and onto modern day social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Discord and Amino. These platforms have the benefit of helping lolitas across the world connect and interact, however they lack the exciting feeling which the old platforms evoked. Some of us were participating in lolita fashion while the community existed on LiveJournal, while others of us have only known the community from Facebook and Instagram.

‘Quills & Frills’ is meant to be a love letter to the nostalgic feelings we share for the old lolita blogs and LiveJournals, and to share this feeling with the newer generations of lolitas and ouji. We hope to share guides, reviews, art and the opinions of some lolitas in the community with this blog.

To learn more about us, please visit the Meet the Team page. For more about our mission, visit our About page.

 ♡ Your humble loloto ♡