Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Great Shoe Race ~Buying Lolita Shoes from Taobao vs Aliexpress vs Amazon~

Last year, I decided I wanted to answer the ultimate question: Can I buy a Sosic Shoe from Amazon and/or Aliexpress and it be (1) cheaper? (2) shipped faster? (3) the same shoe?? Sosic Shop is my favorite shoe shop on Taobao but I often see the images from their shop used again on Amazon and Aliexpress. Combined with countless newbies asking if it is okay to buy lolita shoes on Amazon or Aliexpress, I decided I would test out if the shoes on Amazon and Aliexpress were actually from the same manufacturer.

I thought that October 1, 2021 would be a good opportunity since the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival would be over and there should not be significant delays other than the usual delays as a result of the pandemic.  However, there was a very good shoe sale on Aliexpress, so on the evening of Sept 30, I ordered the shoes. 

I already own several pairs of shoes from Sosic Shop, including their tea party style shoes.  I wanted some additional colors, so that is the shoe I tested.  I also figured that this is a common show style, so hopefully the cost comparisons would be relevant to many people.

Shoe #1 - Aliexpress Shoe

This was the shoe I saw that was on sale. They are calling CN 41 = US 9.5. I own these shoes in CN 41 so I thought that I could trust this measurement.

The total I paid for this shoe was $28.50 USD, but it was also on sale for half price. If I had paid full price for this shoe, my total would have been $42.64 USD. The expected delivery was Nov 2nd, and from all other Aliexpress orders, I expected it would take the most time.  However, this shoe actually shipped October 6th and arrived October 15th!!  Amazing!! This shoe is the clear winner for fastest delivery, however, that is the only nice thing I can say about this shoe.

The shoes were wrapped fairly well and had paper in the toes to help them keep their shape.  When I opened the package, they had that fresh factory smell.  I immediately noticed that these shoes seemed slimmer than the tea party style shoes I owned already, and that the PU material felt thinner.  It felt like this was a single layer of PU, whereas my other shoes had two layers.  The snaps seemed to be the same, however you can see the hardware in these shoes whereas in the Sosic Shop shoes, you cannot.

Some minor differences I noticed where the Aliexpress shoe has a heart on the inner heel, and the dots in the lining are larger compared to the dots in the Sosic shoe.  These are really minor points and I thought that perhaps Sosic has changed since I last ordered from them.

I tried on the new shoe, and it was NOT comfy. I tried on the old shoe (which to be fair, the old shoe is around 2 years old now, so maybe it is broken in more), and it remained comfy with lots of room in the toe box.  To see if I was imagining the new shoe being smaller, I lined them up.

The new red shoe is shorter.  You can also see that the straps on the red shoe are attached to the outside of the shoe, whereas with the Sosic Shop brown shoe, they are attached to the inside.  

They are both marked as Size 41, and another note is that Sosic Shop has a bow imprint on the sole of their shoes.  So while the Aliexpress Tea Party shoe arrived extremely quickly, it is not the shoe that I wanted.  These shoes were resold shortly after taking the notes and images for this review.  

Shoe #2 - Sosic Shop Shoes via 42agent ~Theoretical Tea Party Shoes~

I actually only wanted black and red tea party shoes, so I ordered different shoes from Sosic Shop instead.  What I did instead was put a fake order of tea party shoes into 42agent to see how much the shoe plus fees would run you (without shipping added).

One pair of shoes, including fees, would be $28.84 USD.  I weighed my pair of tea party shoes and they are 567g, but I have removed the ankle straps.  If we round up, the shoes are probably 600g and with packaging, let’s be safe and say 1000g or around 2.2lbs.  42agent’s shipping calculator at the time of making these orders estimated $25.27 USD for eYouBao, $36.53 for Chinese EMS and $43.04 for FedEx shipping.  Since October 2021, shipping prices from China have increased dramatically in some cases, but I will address this later.

In order to properly race the Aliexpress and Amazon shoes, I instead ordered two pairs of different shoes from Sosic Shop using 42agent, using eYouBao shipping.  Those shoes arrived at 42agent's wearhouse on October 18th, and shipped them the next day.  My actual shipping cost for 2 shoes, weighing 1170g, was $30.23 (including PayPal fees).  These shoes arrived October 29th, and met all expectations.  They had the same smaller dot lining and the thicker PU fabric.  

Shoe #3 Lorie and Knight Amazon Shoe

I also bought from the Amazon seller Lorie & Knight.  I had heard rumors that this shop was just Sosic Shop, and considering they use the same images, I figured this would be a safe buy.  This was shown as the same model of shoe, however they are calling CN 41 = US 9 (which is what my US size is anyway).  

The total for these shoes was $49.10 USD, which included the $39.99 price tag, $5 shipping and the rest was local state taxes.  Amazon estimated delivery between November 5th to December 3rd.  I ordered these at the same time as the Aliexpress shoes, and I figured that surely these would arrive before the Aliexpress shoes did.  I was horribly, horribly wrong.

Amazon shipped these shoes October 4th and gave me a tracking number.  The second half of 2021 had me staring at many packages getting stuck in Guangzhou, but by October 20th, these shoes were in LA.  I thought I had avoided disaster.  But alas, October 28th, these shoes were still in LA customs. At this point, my 42agent order was on its way to me already.  And then November 4th, my shoes were scanned GUANGZHOU?!

November 8th, both 17track and Amazon's internal tracking service say that the shoes were being returned. I was never given a reason and to this day, I still have no idea why they were sent back.  Around November 21st, Amazon just deleted all their tracking information and 17track said that the shoes had been returned.  I decided to wait til Dec 4th to contact the seller, mostly because Amazon would not allow me to contact them because it was still before the Dec 3rd delivery deadline.

I messaged the sellers on Dec 4th, and they issued me a new tracking number a week later.  Are these the same shoes? Did they just send me a different pair and the original pair was lost in the void?  They reached Guangzhou on Dec 15th, and then I kind of forgot about the whole thing until a few days ago.  I assumed that now with Omicron and all the news of lockdowns and electricity rationing in China, it would be awhile.  But then I checked Jan 16, and behold, my shoes were in LA once again.  Then Jan 21st, the Lorie and Knight shoes FINALLY arrived.  

I immediately got flashbacks to the red Aliexpress shoe, with the heart patch and the thick dot lining.  The straps on this shoe are also attached to the outside of the shoe rather than the inside. They were well packed and came with an included heel pad that can be attached to the shoe.  I tried one one of these shoes, and the toe box was once again too small.

I measured the bottom of the shoe and it came out to ~25.5cm.  I made the same measurement on my old Sosic tea party shoes, and it is 26.5cm long. Also note the lack of bow imprint on the Lorie and Knight shoes.  So the Lorie and Knight shoes are not the same as the Sosic Shop shoes.  For transparency sake, these shoes are also being resold.


The original questiones I proposed to answer were: Can I buy a Sosic Shop shoe from Amazon and/or Aliexpress and will it be (1) cheaper? (2) shipped faster? (3) actually the same shoe??

Are these tea party shoes on Amazon or Aliexpress cheaper than ordering from Sosic Shop?

Technically, yes the shoe from Aliexpress was the cheapest, followed by the Amazon shoe and finally the shoes from Sosic Shop/42agent.  At the time of ordering, the Aliexpress shoe was $42.64, the Amazon shoe was $49.10, and the theoretical Sosic Shop shoe would be approximately $54.11 (eYouBao). However since I started this experiment, shipping from China has increased by a TON. As I cannot estimate how much a single shoe and packaging would weigh, we will use the weight of my 2 shoes from Sosic last year, which was 1170g for 2 pairs.  eYouBao now costs $35.33, EMS costs $83.19, Fedex costs $54.31 and DHL costs $67.32. With this increased shipping, the shoes from Sosic/42agent are even more expensive compared to Aliexpress and Amazon, who for the most part have not increased their shipping costs.

Current screenshot and link to the Aliexpress shoe:

Current screenshot and link to the Lorie and Knight shoe:

Are these shoes from Amazon or Aliexpress shipped faster than ordering from Sosic Shop/a Taobao Shopping Service?

This is really difficult to answer, since shipping from China has been extremely slow during the second half of 2021 and even now I know people who are waiting on Taobao orders from last October and November.  From my personal experience, the Aliexpress shoe arrived first, then the Sosic Shop shoes using eYouBao, and finally the Amazon shoe that took 113 days to get back to me, including being shipped from LA back to China and then back to the US.  I don't know when shipping from China to the US (or to other countries) will speed up.  If I was to order from Amazon or Taobao today, I would estimate that eYouBao would take slightly over a month, based on when the Lorie and Knight shoes arrived after being re-shipped in December.  The Amazon listing linked above gives a much shorter timeline, however unless there is now a US-based stock of these items, I would not believe that.

Are these shoes using the images from Sosic Shop actually the same shoe?

Absolutely hell no.  Even if you were to argue that I should have sized up (the Aliexpress shoe did offer a size 10, which I did not buy because I was under the impression their Size 9.5 would fit, based on all information I had), the shoes were made by different manufacturers. The PU is different between Sosic and the Amazon/Aliexpress shoes, the dot lining in the bottom is different, and the soles of the Amazon/Aliexpress shoes lack the bow impression that Sosic puts on their shoes.  Considering that all three shops are using the same images, there was no way to really know which shoe is which.  The images where the shoe is being modeled shows the straps are attached from inside the shoe.

However, other images from the Aliexpress site show images of shoes with the strap originating from the outside of the shoe.

The Lorie and Knight listing on Amazon only has images directly from the Sosic Shop Taobao, however if you look at the customer review images, some of them have straps that attach to the outside of the shoe while other review images have straps that attach to the inside.

Where should you buy your shoes from?

So now what can you, dear reader, do with this information?  There is nothing technically wrong with the shoes that I ordered from Aliexpress and Amazon.  If you want to give the Amazon or Aliexpress tea party shoes (or any other lolita style shoe you find on those sites) a shot, I would recommend measuring your foot and possibly other lolita shoes (if you have them) to double check your sizing, and check reviews (especially on Amazon).  However, even this is not foolproof. 

Personally, I am going to eat the shipping costs and re-order from Sosic Shop in the future and hope eYouBao shipping isn’t too backed up.

If you have reached the end of this post, I applaud your patience and hope that this has been somewhat informative!!

❀ Chamomile ❀

Friday, January 14, 2022

Lolita Survey ~dresses~

There are many things to love about lolita fashion, however at the heart of it are the main pieces. One pieces, jumper skirts, salopettes, skirts - the base upon which a coordinate is built. Today, I have asked some of the lolitas behind Quills & Frills about some of their favorite (and least favorite) pieces.

What is your current favorite main piece?

Secret: Brick House Switched JSK In brown

Chai: Angelic Pretty Diner Doll JSK in pink. This was my ultimate dream dress and I finally acquired it last year!

Lady Grey: Marine Island!

Rooibos: The blue colourway of Tartan Check Scalloped JSK! Specifically because it's so comfy.

This version:
but this colour

Pocket Enthusiast: My red riding hood OP, it's incredible you can take off the hood, the sleeves, the ribbons,... and it got pockets!! pockets and a hood. So exciting

Vodka: What a difficult question! In terms of what I seem to like wearing the most right now it's this tartan "OP" which I generally wear as a JSK. I got it recently at a swap meet and I love it. It's just perfect for the colder weather and extremely comfy!

Mocha: Gosh this is so hard. Probably IW's Ribbon Appliqué jsk. It was something I wanted way back when I was a poor lolita-at-heart and I'm so pleased to have found it in great condition. IW is often notorious for their unflattering tube-like bodices, but the cut of the jsk is flattering and surprisingly comfortable unlike a lot of lolita pieces from the 2000s. And yes, although it's from 2006, it's a very timeless piece.

What is the most interesting way you've acquired a piece in your wardrobe?

Secret: Pink Hawase Doll OP- I woke up at 3 AM unable to sleep, saw it was up on WW and bought it and immediately fell back asleep. I thought I dreamed it the next morning at first.

Chai: When I attended Paradiso in 2019, Angelic Pretty was a guest vendor. They sent out a survey beforehand asking what people would like them to bring to sell in their booth, and I said "Magical Horoscope in navy" because the release was a total bloodbath and I'd failed to get it. They actually did bring ONE JSK and I managed to buy it! I have since tracked down all the accessories as well; it's definitely one of my favorites!

Chamomile: It is not especially exciting, but my very first secondhand dress was one my friend found for me on Xianyu. Before that, I wasn't very familiar with Xianyu or which shopping services would let me buy from there. However with her help and a very very patient shopping service, I was able to get one of my dream dresses <3

Lady Grey: This isn't THAT interesting, buut I was pretty silly when I bought my first brand piece (which was Marine Island LOL) I saw it on BTSSB SF for like $125. Plus ALL the jewelry. Current me would be screaming and adding to cart. Buut no, I hesitated and as soon as I saw it was out of stock, I desperately ran to LaceMarket and ended up getting the dress for about $100+ more LOL Why did I hesitate?? I honestly don't know!

Rooibos: Not interesting per say, but I love getting pieces secondhand from friends. It's nice because when I coord with that piece, it'll remind me of them, and I hope it makes them smile to see me enjoying it even if it didn't fit in their wardrobe anymore.

Pocket Enthusiast: Not really interesting but it was so "on the spot" lol. I was at a friend's house and she was going through her wardrobe while I was chilling and she took out 2007 Toy Parade saying "I definitely won't fit into this anymore and there's a melted candy in the pocket that made a stain, I don't know how I could even sell it" and I turned my head briefly and instantly fell in love with how beautiful it looked in black with long sleeves and candy lace and I crawled so fast toward her going "I'LL TAKE IT!!" And that's how I came to own Toy Parade lol. If you're reading this, I'm still taking very good care of it like I promised you <3

Vodka: Hmmm, I think the most interesting one is the story of my Little Witch JSK!  I bought the cutsew OP on release day, then swapped it for the OP, and then swapped said OP for the JSK! So I've had all the cuts of Little Witch.

Mocha: Does going to Japan and buying in person count?

What is something you regret buying?

Secret: A lot of very cheap Bodyline when I first started. I sold most of it. They were good starter pieces at least.

Chai: Anything in a solid color. I see how pretty other lolitas look in solids, and then I buy one and instantly regret it because I really only like prints on me.

Chamomile: Soufflesong Don't Eat Bunny. This was before it was well known how sketchy Soufflesong was beyond simply being a brand that is sometimes low quality. I liked the name of the print and the print itself was very cute (bunnies and sweets and cookies, etc), and it fit me well enough. However the fabric just seemed kind of cheap to me, and I didn't love it. I ended up selling it and I hope it has made someone else happy.

Lady Grey: A lot of my Bodyline pieces. Unless it's a solid dress, two of the printed Bodyline pieces just did not look good. I can't tell what it is. Even though the lace is similar, print pieces from them just do not look good on me

Rooibos: Cheap synthetic fabric blouses. I sweat more when I don't wear breathable fabrics and I'm less likely to decide to put something on if I have to be uncomfortable like that all day when there are natural fibre alternatives that don't do that.

Pocket Enthusiast: An overpriced printed Baby skirt I ended up barely wearing and sold for pebbles.

Vodka: The Meta miniskirt that just doesn't seem to fit anyone who wants it! I wish I'd know it wouldn't fit and be so difficult to sell.

Mocha: Definitely a lot of stuff from Bodyline that weren't shoes. No shade on BL - there are people who can pull off their stuff well, but I was never happy with them. At the same time, I can't truly be regretful because without BL making affordable lolita pieces, I'd probably not have figured out if lolita was for me.

How has your style changed from when you first started wearing lolita to now?

Secret: My general preferred style stayed the same but I’ve def expanded into other styles

Chai: I thought I would wear skirts as well as dresses, but it turns out I just really love the look of JSKs and have since sold all my skirts.

Chamomile: When I first started, I thought I would be a sweet lolita. Even from the beginning, this was a lie though because my first dresses were more classic anyway. I am really more of a classic lolita, and mature sweet is about as sweet as I usually get.

Lady Grey: Sort of. I remember in 2020 I was gravitating towards a lot of solid pieces. I was also into subtler prints. Now, I want something as bright as possible. At the same time, I really want more gothic pieces that look very....vampire-y.

Rooibos: I got swept up in the whole: "You should have a theme" when I first started wearing lolita and thought I was going to buy a lot of star and moon stuff. Ends up I just like wearing solids! No theme needed.

Pocket Enthusiast: Basically I came in for some gothic, ended up being into really cutesy OTT sweet and now I'm into old school. What a ride uh?

Vodka: I started off being a Baby fan, then an AP fan for the longest time!  So super sweet haha. Nowadays the sweet I wear is old school or 2005-2009 stuff. And recently I really started appreciating goth! I've been making purchases here and there and love wearing it!

Mocha: I've been wearing the fashion for over ten years so it's changed a LOT. I started off with classic, and then sweet - realized it didn't suit me, so I wore a lot of kuro-lolita and then sub-styles like sailor and country. I was stuck with old-school for a little while until more recently I've embraced OTT prints and otome-kei. It's been quite the journey and all I know is that I've improved since I was a babbylita.

What's a lolita style you'd like to wear but haven’t yet?

Secret: Ero I guess?

Chai: I'd like to try ero, for the challenge!

Chamomile: I am very very slowly collecting items to have a proper Gothic Lolita coord. Like Atelier Pierrot and Antique Beast Gothic type Gothic.

Lady Grey: Ero, Shiro, Wa, Qi, and Punk. Ero is the closest I've gotten to, since I'm almost finished with the coord. Shiro just hasn't been possible since I keep avoiding buying solid white dresses LOL. As for the others, I just haven't found a style or any pieces I'd like to use to make such a coord yet.

Rooibos: Moi-Meme-Moitie style goth. The pieces are hard to come by at a price point I'd bite at haha but they're beautiful and I definitely want to own some in the future.

Pocket Enthusiast: I'd like to try hime someday- it looks like fun

Vodka: Military! It looks so cool but it's always a commitment to go such a specific route.

Mocha: Ouji. I'm not sure if it really suits me, but I suppose I should try it once. Also, OTT sweet lolita circa 2012 - mismatching tea parties and all.

When the weather gets cold, is there something in your wardrobe you are excited to wear?

Secret: Meta's Apprentice Sorcerer Houndstooth Skirt and Vest! They're wool so very not summer friendly.

Chai: I'm very excited to wear Sugar Dream Dome now that it's getting colder where I live. The fur trim makes it look so cute and cozy! I only wore it once last year but I'm planning to wear it more this winter.

Chamomile: I bought the Meta Bianca Lucky Pack last Christmas with the express intention of wearing it the following Christmas. 

Lady Grey: My Boz cape, my Roland jacket, and this BTSSB coat I'm buying!

Rooibos: Coats!!! I have so many coats and am excited to use both fall and winter ones as the season progresses

Pocket Enthusiast: Aaaaall the long sleeved OPs (and tartans, duh, what better season than fall for tartan)

Vodka: The obvious answer is coats, but I'm just looking forward to wearing my Meta knit camisole! I got it to be able to wear skirts more comfortably in the winter and I think it's such a cute option.

Mocha: I'm just excited to wear lolita again. It's been too hot for too long.