Apotheca Amaranthine (gienahclarette) wrote in egl,
Apotheca Amaranthine

Buying Off-brand How-to Guide

‘Sup, egl. In light of the recent Milanoo hoopla and jibba jabba, my earlier post (sorry to post twice in one day, guys) and the constant stream of questions regarding the quality of such vendors as Bodyline and Momo’s, it seems like a good idea to re-hash the indicators of a shifty seller as opposed to a trustworthy one. I'm trying to be useful instead of bitter and bitchy about it, so I made this for you~

Hopefully it'll be useful.

Naturally, there is no way to tell 100% if a seller is legit or not if no one has bought from them before. But, there are usually signs. Remember, fellow roris, this is all so that you won’t end up like this:

Also, I know this picture may not be considered PC. Kirk wouldn't coordinate that headbow with that jacket. I admit it.

This ain’t a guide about determining quality, yo. Check yourself out that Lolita Handbook if that’s what you’re looking for. For shizzle.

When you’re looking at an offbrand seller, in general there are several things that are dead give-aways of either trustworthiness or shiftiness.

1) Reviews

2) Website/Online Store

3) Product Pictures

4) Affiliations

5) Cost

I know this has been asked a million times…

If the offbrand in question has been around for over half a year, odds are that there will be at least be a few reviews on it somewhere on egl. The memories and search function are reasonably useful tools for locating said reviews, even if they don’t include all of them. They’ll at least give you a general idea of what to expect. Since it’s apparent that the search function is some kind of secret, squirreled away to where newbies can’t find it, I’ll point it out at the risk of being shunned by the rest of the secret cult of roritas in the know.

It’s on the left-hand side of the site, in the navigation bar.

You use it just like Google, since it is Google. Type in what you’re looking to get your hot little hands on and PRESTO MAGICO it should show up after you press the ‘search’ button.

Checkin’ out the sweet reviews includes customer service as well as item quality. Customer service is very important. Are they communicative? Is the waiting time for your sweet, sweet garments generally consistent between different people? Custom stuff ala TaoBao will take about a month to get to your door, and shouldn’t take much longer than that (unless you’re ordering over nine thousand items at a time). If reviews aren’t enough to completely convince you one way or another or the offbrand is new enough that there aren’t any, there are some other things to look at.

This also includes taking a peak at the reviews and additional information already available to you. Go a huntin' for the terms of service on their website. No one can help you if you don't like the race monster they send you and you didn't check to see that they don't offer returns for shitty merch/false advertisement/the cake is a lie. Also check for any reviews on their site. They may write their own reviews if they're the sneakiest of the sneaky. Take the time to really read these bad boys, since your dollaz are at stake. It might be a good idea to give more weight to reviews that sound like they were written by someone that passed the fifth grade. Just sayin' (shincaru)

Classy CSS

Trustworthy sellers are going to invest a lot in the appearance of their online stores more than sketchy ones, especially since roritiems=fancytiems. They’re catering to a demographic with high expectations in regards to aesthetics. Pleasing custom graphics (aka: they had to pay some mofo who went to an expensive art school or spent a few solid hours on photoshop to make ‘em special) are a good indication that an off-brand is a-ok.

Anna House knows what I’m talkin’ bout. They may not have a lot of fancy-pants custom graphics in comparison to say, Baby. But, their website is classy and well put-together. They put some time into this.

Similarly, any indication of a lot of time spent on the site is just as good.

And nothing says a lot of time like a video of the boss-man kicking in a mirror in the extreme excitement that comes from announcing free DHL shipping.

Most of their merch should be in line with the Lolita asthetic, if that’s what they’re selling the most of. Obvious terrible race monsters in their stock is an indication that they don’t really know what they’re doing, and don’t care enough to fix it and/or do the research. In general, laziness = shiftiness in this case. Case in point: most stuff that comes out of ebay. It costs like $12 to get a domain name/your own website these days, and coding is not exactly brain surgery. Although, Momo’s seems to be improving (or so I’ve heard), they started out on the miss side of hit-or-miss. And don’t even get half this community started on Ling Lam. In general: bad-lookin’ websites/ebay/laziness on the part of the seller is an Indication of Shiftiness.

Similarly, check for such suspicious words as "sissy" "gothic babydoll" or anything similar, or huge freaking grocery lists of descriptors stuck onto every single item. Also, descriptions that just don't seem right at all. It's a good indication that the seller doesn't know anything about their products, their customers, or how to name things. (shiverling)

Another indication of a questionable business is the use of anime/manga images in their website. I have no issues either, personally. But, Lolita fashion =/= anime, and there's a certain stigma about it and mixing the two together that most legit businesses are well aware of. People looking to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting rori-chans won't know the difference, and won't take the time and effort to find out about it.

And I ain't talkin' about AP's Imai Kira. She falls under the category of Very Expensive Illustrator.

Does this look shooped to you?

Stealing pictures from other companies/offbrands/brands is an Obvious Sign of Shadiness. Offbrands and brands alike almost always have a pretty consistent way of photographing their merchandise, even a lot of TaoBao shops. If they have models, see if they're consistent, too. Once again, it shows that they’re taking the time to be professional and know how asthetically-driven this fashion is. In general, if you see burando photos on a non-bruando site that's trying to sell you something, it's suspicious to the max.

If you’re new to this biznass and don’t know a burando photo from a non-burando photo at fifty paces, here’s a guide. There's a more extensive one here.

Baby the Stars Shine Bright always has a red cloth background, although some look like just a plain red background. They also have that sweet-ass logo in the lower right hand corner. It’s unobtrusive and classy.

Meta shows their goods against an off-white background on a cloth dressform.

So does AP. But, you don’t need anyone to help you know what’s AP merch. For serious. You’ll know because your eyes will have the diabetuss.

Mary Magdalene shows their stuff on either a warm grey background or this exact same floral background. Their mannequin has a wooden thing stickin’ out of the top there. The silhouette of their stuff is also painfully recognizable.

Victorian Maiden uses a ton of different backgrounds (princesspikeru) including this vertically striped floral (you try to come up with a better way to describe this) for their photos, and apparently shoop some of their stuff. Like MM, their cloth dress forms have wooden things sticking out of the top and SWEET TUNDRAN JESUS their mannequins also have freaking arms and hands and shit sometimes. Articulated hand joints, for crying out-loud. That’s how you know they’re serious business. In general, if you see this kind of shiz outside of the VM website, it's probably stolen.

Legit sellers will often have more than one view of the dress in question.

Conversely, stolen images essentially mean that the business in question is not to be trusted. Although some Chinese replica services do use the brand images of the replicas they’re trying to replicate, they should at least have some photographs of their own replicas. Untrustworthy businesses may try to hide their sneaky shenanigans by slapping poorly photoshopped logos and shit over the photos. But, it should still be obvious that their photos aren’t consistent. Certain companies will try to shoop the woop and disguise their stolen photos. But, the dresses will either look really familiar, or it’ll be an obvious shoop.

Signs of shooping:
1) Something just looks off.
2) Outlines around the merch.
3) WTF is this supposed to be a coordinate?
4) Lack of shadows
5) Inconsistant backgrounds/dressforms between different items.

Examples of the woop being shooped:

They know a guy…

Reputable offbrands not located in ‘murica will probably have a reputable shopping service/intermediate for all of us state-side. I’m willing to put a decent amount of confidante in a TaoBao seller associated with qcute or other well-known middle-man services, because both of those businesses have to stake their reputations on the TaoBao shops’ ability of doin’ it rite. And when I say reputable intermediary, I mean a lot of people have also used them and given them good feedback. If their stuff appears in magazines, that’s another indication that they’re probably ok. In light of recent events, Mashimarogirl has been removed from this list.

But it’s only $5!!

There’s a general cost bracket for off-brand clothing. If you’re not sure about what that is, take a gander around TaoBao, Anna House, Bodyline, etc to get a good idea. If it’s so cheap that is seems too good to be true, it probably is. Competent tailors require a certain amount of pay for their efforts, even in China. For the record, Bodyline is on the freaking dirt-cheap end of the spectrum. They must use elves chained to sewing machines to produce that shit, or possibly unicorns. If the prices are much higher than the norms, that’s also suspicious.

In General, not including shipping:

Blouses: $25-$40
Dresses: $60-$80
JSKs: $50-$70
Skirts: $30-$60
Shoes: $30-$50

Unfortunately, it isn’t always obvious if a seller is going to treat their customers right and give them nicely made goods. If you’re suspicious, wait a few months and wait for some other people to investigate. Inevitably, some poor Lolita(s) will take the risk of taking a hit for the team, and you should find out what the deal is within a few weeks.

If you’ve got some kinda correction/addition you’d like to make to this or whatever, drop me a comment below, yo.

Reputable Offbrands
- Generally Taobao stores (make sure to take note of each individual store's ratings!)
- Bodyline
- Anna House

Stay away from
- Ebay
- Milanoo

Tags: tutorial: misc

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  • Unreleased Items You Wish Were Released?

    I was looking through some of my old (ouch) AP catalogs and in one of them from 2014 there was this marshmallow bag pictured with the re-release of…

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