Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Big Replica Debate: Part Two

I'm sure by now that most of you are aware that it was in fact Angelic Pretty representatives that contacted the EGL community seeking help in banning the sale of replica items. Angelic Pretty is now the third brand leader to stand up against illegal replications along with public announcements from Mary Magdalene and Innocent World. You can read their respective announcements to customers regarding this issue here (scroll down):   Angelic Pretty , Mary Magdelene, and Innocent World.

Along with revealing the source of which company contacted the EGL moderators for their cooperation, they have also compiled a verbal and visual guide on what replicas are, which ones are illegal, what makes them illegal, and what you can and can not post about regarding illegal replicas. You can find the complete guide here: A Guide to Illegal Replicas on the EGL Forums

In case you're still uncertain of the difference between a "super replica" (i.e. illegal counterfeit) and a generic replica let's compare and contrast for our own enlightenment!

What is a replica? Aka. a counterfeit. 

Replicas, more commonly referred to as counterfeits, are knock off items of the original. Basically a replica is any item that is a copy or illegal reproduction, in full or in part, of an original artist's work. Usually, a replica is a cheaper, less costly version of its original counterpart that copies all or some parts of an original piece. A counterfeit is synonymous with replica, defined as an imitation or fraudulent copy of the original artist's work. These two words can be used interchangeably since they mean roughly the same thing.

I actually had a great photo for this of a good example of what a "simple" replica looks like---i.e. a cheap imitation of the real thing. In this case, it was a cherry red patent leather little purse I bought when I was traveling in China. Now, this counterfeit was in no way a "super replica," or an exact copy. (If you wanted those, all you had to do was hunt around in Beijing or Shanghai and a lot of the members traveling with us bought "super replicas" of purses from brands like Coco Chanel or Versace.) The one I bought was supposed to be a likeness to Sanrio's Hello Kitty. Instead, there was a fuzzy kind of derp-y looking "Hello Cat." Yes, it actually said hello cat... and since it was cute, and I needed a purse, and it was hilarious, I bought it.

Cheap replicas are not interested in the finer details. Overseas it is fairly common to just grab a brand's logo, make something that sorta kinda looks like what they make, and slap the logo and name on it. It doesn't take a genius to tell from first looks that it's not the real thing. Remember how in Kamikaze Girls, Momoko's dad was all into making "Versach" 100% authentic from France? ... Cheap replicas are kinda like that...

What is a "super replica"and what makes it illegal?

 (Left: example of a "super replica" of Happy Garden) /
(Right: Angelic Pretty's authentic, original Happy Garden JSK)

"Super replicas" are the ones that usually get people talking. These are counterfeits so amazingly accurate down to the very last stitching detail and trim, that it actually takes experts to be able to tell the real ones and the fake ones apart. These counterfeits are supposed to reproduce the real thing so that even the most cautious buyer can't tell that they are a fake. From the fabrics to materials used, to the logos, and even the hang tags and fabric labels... they are all copied down to the very last detail and put together to create a "super replica" or "super copy."

Replicas have been an ongoing problem that I think has come more and more into the lolita public's eye, especially this last year, with a lot of big companies finally speaking out and against illegal reproduction of their designs and especially their fabric prints. It is absolutely mind boggling that entire fabric prints, like Angelic Pretty's Happy Garden (above), can be illegally reproduced and manufactured by overseas companies with such ease. It is in essence stealing the hard work of not only the brand, but their designers, illustrators, employees, and manufacturing companies.

You can tell that the dress on the left by an anonymous overseas company is obviously not the Angelic Pretty original---the entire bodice was changed, the lace is different, and the waist bow itself is smaller. But what makes it a "super replica" is the blatant reproduction of the original artist's work, i.e. the fabric print itself. This can be applied to any dress/skirt/accessory/jewelry that you see being reproduced at a cheaper price by someone overseas of an original print that belongs to its original artists/brands. It simply violates the copyrights held by those individuals and companies.

Why should I care?

Well, this is a question that I can't answer for you. This is going to be a matter of personal opinion that will be interpreted differently by each individual. The most common reason, as we talked about in part one, for the purchase of illegal replicas is: the price. Replicas are cheaper, even if the quality and materials used are sub par to the original.

a. The Legal Reason
Companies like Innocent World and Mary Magdalene have not minced words in their statements released either on their personal websites or else where. They will prosecute overseas companies that are engaging in or otherwise involved in the illegal selling or reproduction of their copyrighted designs and items. Innocent World even said they will take "rigourous measurements" and "punishment" against customers who willingly purchase fake items. Basically, buy at your own risk.

b. The Moral Reason
There's always a lot ruckus about how big lolita brands are just "faceless companies who don't care about customers and hike up the price of their items" yada yada. If you're still certain that's the case, please review part one on the basic concepts of supply and demand.

With that said, put yourself in their shoes for a minute. If you haven't studied fashion, or if you've simply invested timing in making your own loli gear, take a second and think... how long did you labor and sweat, and cry a little bit in trying to make that perfect piece? How many hours did you spend over the sewing machine, breaking needles, and ripping out stitches? And then when you finally made it, when it was finally done... well, how did that feel? Awesome, right? Because you put 100% heart, time, and effort into producing a product.

These companies are actually rather small. Yes, they turn out A LOT of inventory through manufacturers, but all the creative effort into thinking up the designs, creating the original patterns, prints, and sourcing the materials/trims needed to just make ONE dress is a lot of work. When I interned at Anna Sui in the summer of 2011, you would not believe the man hours put into just one single piece, let alone an entire collection. These people work so unbelievably hard to bring you, the lolita princess customer, the decadent frills and thrills that make your pound and your palms sweat.

And then... after all that, after all their intensive laboring and working as a team to create something beautiful... someone just steals it, with no effort or thought at all. That's awful. Truly horrid. Think how you would feel.

c. The Personal Reason
I'm not going to go into this one at length, since you've already had the chance to read it in part one. Lolita is beauty, it is a living, breathing self expression of art, it is heart and soul. If it is the one true love of your life, wouldn't it be so much more rewarding to be patient, to save, and own the real thing? Don't you want to support all those people that work to make that happen?

Well, I make/buy cute items that looks like something brand has, is that illegal? Or do they have copyright on all fluffy cute animals in the world, like unicorns too?  

 (Left: Pink Macaroon's Unicorn Purse/ Right: Angelic Pretty's Unicorn Purse)

The simple answer here is: no. If every company had a copyright on silhouttes, generic shapes, and overall fluffy cuteness then... no one would ever be able to produce anything and I'm fairly certain fashion would cease to exist as we know it.

("Why no, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, you simpy cannot use the popular 18th century 'french gown' sacque silhoutte with all those engageants ruffles! And you've made a ribbon collerate necklace too! :gasp: It looks just like Madame de Pomapdour! How outrageous, that's illegal! :faints dramatically:)

Madame du Pompadour, Francois Boucher
In the above example, you can see, that would just be silly right? After all, the basic silhouettes and frilly decorations used to make up most lolita wear is based on historical fashions. These kinds of things are more of an inspired by, than any dark illegal activity afoot.

Pink Macaroon 's unicorn duffle bag purses for example, are simply a generic plush animal shape. She is not in any way trying to pass of her cuties for that of an AP unicorn purse. She was simply inspired by the item and decided to make her own.

In final words, basically if you see it in regular stores in your outlet mall, like teddy bears with monocles and top hats for example, and you see something similar to that featured in your favorite indie brand, or brand shop... Have no fear! It's ok!

What about other look alike items, are those counterfit? How about "replica" items like Tea Party Shoes, purses, etc?

 (Left: Baby the Stars Shine Bright Heart Purse)
(Right: Bodyline Heart Purse)

As long as the replica item is generic, meaning without special logos or text, or graphic art designs that would suggest it is trying to copy the original artist's work then you're safe. See, this Bodyline bag isn't trying to be anything but a cute heart shaped companion to carry all your junk!

A lot of people love Secret Shop Tea Party Shoes, which I think is okay. Yes, they look similar to items being reproduced but they aren't using copyrighted logos/artwork, and they aren't "super replicas" either. Who wants to stomp around in their gazillion dollar brand shoes unless it's is a clear blue sky day and there is not even an iota of a chance for rain, or other inclimate weather? At least in offbrand shoes you can jump in puddles (ok...maybe not!) or slosh through the snow in those cute lace boots and not worry that you spent so much money on them. (I own one pair of BTSSB heels, and basically I wear them once in a blue moon because I basically break down and cry when I see a scuff mark on their snowy white patent leather. Okay, okay, I'm just pulling your leg again. :3 But I do get upset!)

***AH! This post is getting long..... onwards to PART THREE, Being a Princess on a Budget! : O

*Edit: Forgive me for taking so long to post, the doctor's thing I've come down with an upper respiratory infection, possibly pneumonia related and I haven't been well. ; _ ;


  1. Really informative article! Love that you used the cute pic of me with Sarah's Pink Macaroon giant unis! Those unis are just way too much fun :)

  2. Victoria <3 ah! Sorry, I'm so happy to see your comment my heart skipped a little beat! *A* I have been following you for so long it just makes me so happy to see you've read mine!

    And I had to use the pic! Not only are you too cute, but there are always so many girls asking about the unicorn bags because they think they are AP, and I want to shout, "No, no! They're this cute indie designer!" Ha!

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