Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Big Replica Debate: Lolita Brand vs. Faux Brand: Part One

It's official: EGL Forums has just announced their official ban of posting "illegal counterfeit" items, i.e. replicas. You can read it here:

The big replica debate in the Lolita community isn't a new one, and has always been a subject of controversy among the community with arguments over both legal, ethical, and moral sides on the issue. It has gotten more heated over the last year or so with companies like Innocent World and Angelic Pretty stepping into the lime light and publicly chastising customers for the purchase of knockoff brand products. Depending on what side of the line drawn in the sand you're standing on, either argument could be valid.

So while I'm stuck in bed with an icky case of the flu and not able to sew, let's talk about it. Bear in mind, these opinions are solely my own and you're free to agree or disagree as you see fit.

A lot of people don't find anything wrong with replica, whether it's shoes, socks, hand bags, or dresses that look almost exactly the same down to the print. Replicas are even recommended in a lot of articles talking about "lolita on a budget." Many people argue that they simply can't afford Lolita, and would rather spend half the amount of money on something that looks nearly the same for a lot less dollars. Or that brand is "too expensive" or "ridiculously priced," when in all reality it's a basic part of economics: supply and demand. (Sorry if I don't get this completely right, Mom, I haven't taken econ in a long time. : o ) While brands may set the prices, it's the consumer demand that keeps those prices where they are---i.e. there are girls out there willing to save and splurge on a $200 dollar skirt or a $300+ dollar one piece because they want to.

A Dream List: It's just a good idea! <3
 To many people this might seem like a rational reason to buy faux brand. Prices are "too high" and they aren't willing to shell out the money for real brand. Again, why buy the real thing when you can buy it's faux cousin for less? Well, we know the reasons for why, but let's explore why not. Why not buy brand?

To me, fashion is a kind of medium that allows us to really speak to the world, to express our true selves with passion to all those around us. It let's us bare our souls. It speaks to us in different ways, calls to each of us in a way only we can hear. It teases us and taunts us until we become worthy of wearing it, and when we wear it, it teaches us something differently: about ourselves, or the world around us, or even just makes us see things from a different light. Where Lolita is concerned I have never felt so impassioned about one singular thing. To me it's tripping head first in love into one of the most romantic street styles there is, one that brings us back to simpler times, and repaints our skies and surroundings into something magical. Wearing Lolita is special, and sacred, and close to my heart. I want to become worthy of wearing it.

With that being said, I realize that the every day girl (as I am one of them) has a hard time justifying spending what I could pay on monthly car insurance or now a lot of student loan debt... on a single brand item, especially if it's a skirt, jumper skirt, or one piece dress; pieces you really need to fill out a closet. For me, $20 dollars is a lot of money. We grew up always saving and trying to make things work with a single mom taking care of us, and money has never lost its value. While trying to get through my fashion degree in college, I can say I honestly think it gained more importance. Which as it turns out has made me an extremely frugal person, and I can also admit without shame that it is a battle for me to rip that money out of my hands and buy something that means so much to me.

"If it's a dream, you can't put a value on it." Something that special, that important, has more than just extrinsic value to it. You can't put a dollar amount on happiness. If it means that much to you, you are going to save every extra penny you make to save up for that "dream" piece and it is going to mean that much more to you when you've achieved it. BUT that doesn't mean that if I have to pay my bills that I go out and spend that money on a brand new Baby the Stars Shine Bright red riding hood cape. Everything has to have a proper time, and a proper balance. If I feel I can afford to make the expenditure then I will, and if I won't then I won't. If it's something I want, sometimes I ask for help, but that doesn't mean I get it. Otherwise it's a matter of patience, a lot of patience. Life goes on. It will happen when it's supposed to. The things I do I have are through patience, of years of saving and pining over things, or the generosity of gifts.

Me in Emily Temple Cute
 There's really no reason to get upset over not being able to buy something. Yes, it can be frustrating and sometimes cause a lot of heartache. But Lolita is about being opulent, frivolous, and excess. It lives up to that Rococo ideal of indulgence, or pure infatuation with ridiculous fashions. Buying Lolita is not a need, it is a want, pure and simple. You don't need to wear Ballerina Rocking Horse Shoes or a Sugary Carnival dress to continue living. You want to, because it completes a part of you and makes your heart more full.

AP: Sugary Carnival JSK
 Replicas speak a lot about brand loyalty, in my opinion. If you feel the way I do about Lolita, then you want to buy that brand, the whole magical, pastel sparkly experience of owning a 100% authentic thing. You want to support that brand and the people that work their so they can continue to produce things that make your heart skip a beat and your knees buckle into a swoon. It makes earning that particular dream item even more special, even more valuable than just some knock off.

Me in my first brand dress: BTSSB Sweet Fruit a la Mode
 A lot of things like dress silhouettes/patterns/prints aren't protected overseas which is why you see that brands produce a lot of the same kinds of things around the same time, but each brand uses it in their own way while still sticking to their roots. (For example: the re-explosion of perfume bottle prints this year.) Replicas, especially where entire prints like Angelic Pretty's "Sheep Garden" are being reproduced down to the last detail, are disheartening. In the end, buying these nearly "super knockoffs" or "super replicas" don't show your love for Lolita or for the brand that originally produced the print that you fell so madly in love with. It hurts the brand, and devalues not only their original pieces but also the value of their hard work in producing them. There are so many ways to afford things even on a budget and still support your favorite Lolita brand princesses, especially if you're buying second hand and you are just patient!

Example of a "super replica" of AP's Sheep Garden
 There are other girls who say they don't or can't buy replica because brands like Angelic Pretty, Innocent World, or Baby the Stars Shine Bright simply don't fit them because it's either too big or too small. And that, I actually understand even if I don't condone it. To that I say: Lolita brands everywhere, it's time to make a change. Girls regardless of their size should not have to squeeze into a brand dress that is only "one size fits all." They deserve to look just as beautiful, and adorable as anyone else. While Lolita may promote the standard sizes, I think it's time to expand their idea of their perfect target customer, of that "it" girl that the brand revolves around. If you want girls of all shapes and sizes to support the brand then maybe it's time to start producing things that will fit them, offer more options, and allow them a chance to be the frilly princess of their dreams. Yes, it will cost more to produce, but don't you think they're willing to spend that money too? And again, can you put a value on a dream? If you want them to support you, big brand, then why aren't you supporting them?

I have so much more to say, but I think I had better make this a part one and follow up with a part two.

So, what do you think about the big replica debate?



  1. who cares? when did lolita become brand-name obsessed? who cares where our dresses are from? fashion is free, and loving, stop making it hurtful, trapping, and unwanted. fashion is supposed to be a break from that. not everyone can afford it? its not that the person hates it, its just that why spend $400 on a dress,? its not the money that counts, nor the brand-name, its about expressing who you are, not about silly things like that.

    1. Anon,

      I'm guessing you skipped the paragraphs about fashion being a medium, about self expression, and it only having value to the person that wears it. Any kind of fashion is what you yourself make of it, the value it has only to your heart. This is intrinsic, not extrinsic value.

      I will redirect you to part two of this series:

      If you would have read part two or part one more closely, you would see that I am not against offbrand lolita. What I am against are "super replicas" which are direct copies of dresses by big brands, as this is copy right infringement.

      And the suggest for you to follow that with, "A Guide to Being a Princess a Budget!" This is for the many brands that aren't big, but are indie and lovely, and create affordable dresses with just as much quality as the big brands. There are a lot of wonderful offbrands out there, and I think they are just as talented.

  2. so what are your thoughts about bigger woman buying replicas i am a bigger woman i really would spend the money but the sizes dont fit me so is it ok to buy replicas if my true intent would be to spend 300 something on a dress i really would if i fit is it ok then (the bigger part of me is mostly my bust but i am bigger all over)

    1. Dear Bella, sorry for the late response! I know that there is a complete lack of availability in the plus size market! Which I really feel is such a shame, because like I said, if there is a demand I feel like the industry should be willing and want to broaden their customer basis so every girl can feel beautiful! Again, buying replicas is purely a matter of choice and opinion that varies from person to person. I would much rather see you support indie brands that can draft out custom patterns to fit your measurements, which creates something unique and quality just for you! But again, it's kind of big brand's fault if you are forced to buy replicas instead of originals because they aren't willing to offer a better range of sizes!

  3. I dont own replicas at the moment, but I've been trying to decide on whether or not to buy a replica of the Milky Planet jsk. For me, it's not a matter of cost, its the sizing issue. Yes I know the brands are offering bigger sizes, but that's only certain prints. There are other prints (Milky Planet in particular) that I love that do not come in my size. I would be more than willing to pay for the real thing if I could fit into it. The way I see it, replicas will always be here, and brands aren't helping matters any by only selecting a few prints to make in bigger sizes, and making the rest the standard size. They need to expand their market to include everyone.

    1. Yes, Hannah! I completely agree, that was one of my points in my post as well : )


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