So, since I was in Hong Kong, I thought I'd pay a visit to Anna House and prod at all the miles of eyelet lace and maybe pick up a few items.
It was great to be able to try on the clothing before buying it - although that led to a certain Mishap which you might want to pay attention to if you plan to buy from Anna House. ^^; Overall, though, everything went well.
Store and (many) item reviews follow.
The factory building where the store is located is quite easy to get to from the MTR. Exit B1 of the Kwun Tong station, then walk straight along the road until you pass a Triumph store, keep going straight until you're across the road (note: cars may interfere with your attempt to walk straight) and turn left and walk until you find a carpark with this sign on the wall saying "Joint Venture Factory Building".
The building is pretty drab, but on the 11th floor, there's one shiny, glowy pink-and-cream storefront!
[Imagine a really pretty photo here]
Their shop sign was probably stencilled by hand.
Mmm, air conditioning... A delicious respite from the summer heat. (I spent a lot of time loitering and cooling off before trying anything on, for obvious reasons.)
The lady at the cashier spends most of her time typing away on the computer (which, I suppose, means that most of your email conversations are with her), but the presumable shop owner is friendly and largely trilingual. There's a curtain at the back leading to the room where they make and store all the clothing.
Here is a (very quick) map of Anna House as I remember it:
(The lavender ovals mark items that are placed on top of the clothes rack.)
- Lots and lots of blouses that aren't listed on their store. Especially the ones in black.
- A few unlisted skirts, as well. The OPs seem to largely match up, though.
- They have a couple of wa-lolita items tucked away in the far corner. They're very pink.
- They seem to have an unlisted variety of petticoat! It's A-line, available in black or white - three tiers of serged organza and very poofy. Lined. Much to my surprise, it seems to consist of only one layer.
- Lots of wrist cuffs.
- Lots of headbows.
- Lots of knee socks.
- They have a little box at the counter with a selection of rings, mostly Sweet.
- They have a rotatable jewelry tree thing with a few chokers and necklaces.
- I almost mistook the doll dresses for children's clothing.
- Sleeveless blouses? Skirtless jumperskirts? I can't remember what the official term for those was...
Most of the clothing doesn't have a price tag attached, so you look up the prices in their two catalogue folders.
Prices are about 10% lower than they are online. (HKD is pegged to USD, so there are no fiddly exchange rate fluctuations to worry about when comparing them.)
The lady doesn't mind making things in custom colours, or adding ruffles or anything like that. If you ask, she can retrieve fabric samples for you from behind the curtain.
Anyway, so I started trying things on. Everything was going smoothly, and my wallet was gradually drained...
And that was when The Mishap happened.
I was trying on this jumperskirt, 015-1354. The back zipper took a bit of a struggle to get past the lump of fabric at the waistline, and it looked a bit awkward on me because my bust somehow led to the fabric at the arm holes bulging forwards.
...But when I tried to take it off, the zipper got stuck. Very stuck. At the waistline, of course, because of the lump of fabric. It was stuck enough that I had to ask for the shopkeeper's assistance, and she eventually gave up and went to get a set of pliers.
The pliers broke the zipper tab off.
The lady then forced apart the zipper on the other side of the waistline, which finally allowed me to slip free by moving the zipper thing upwards to free up the waist.
Fortunately, this probably makes it safer for you to buy that JSK now - the lady said that they'd started using a different kind of zipper and didn't realise it would lead to this sort of problem, and that she would change to a different one. With any luck, you won't find yourself held hostage by your very own frills.
Apart from that, everything went smoothly. Yes, even the zippers.
Alright, time to review everything!
My favourite purchase is, without a doubt, this all-black JSK, 015-1357.
It's very versatile, and the lace details are beautiful. It's a little short on me, though, so I wear it with an underskirt. Also works nicely with a light bolero and no blouse. Mine is slightly asymmetrical, but the construction is solid. Also, the row of lace at the front of the skirt part has squishy petals ♥
Aside from that:
- A custom colour of an OP, 015-1191. The skirt is very full. I have no idea how to tie sleeve lacing while wearing the dress (is that even possible?) so I tie it in advance. No quality issues here.
- Another OP, 015-1323, in black and red. I've gotten some very good use out of its plentiful (well, five) detachable bows - it's a convenient way to make your bag match your coord when you're in a hurry or on a budget or both. The neckline looks a little low on me, perhaps because my shoulders slope, so I wear a camisole underneath. It pretty much straightens itself out after washing, which is handy. To be honest, I think it looks better with an A-line petti, but that might just be me. The stitches are a bit wonky along the hem (the hem itself is smooth), but everything else is fine.
- This blouse, 016-1180, is Sweeter than anything else I own. It fits me kind of oddly, now that I think of it. It's also pretty transparent. When I tried it on in the store, the seam at the bottom end of the zipper tore and the lady had to go and fix it. It has remained intact since, but I do take extra care now.
- This blouse, 016-1344, is beautiful. I'm particularly fond of the sleeves, although I'm not quite used to wearing them just yet. It goes well with the JSK and makes it look more elegant.
- An unlisted A-line skirt in red, with cream lace. (Pictured in my icon!) It's sturdy and straightens itself out pretty well after washing. Makes for a good Classic look.
- An unlisted A-line petti in white. It's stayed poofy since I bought it, at least - I've used it about ten times and store it inside-out in a random bunch. The lining tends to ride up, so it ends up being a bit prickly, especially when I'm sitting down. It was only after I bought it that I noticed that the serging on the hem was coming off in a few places, so I spent several evenings rolling the hem around those areas. I might have just been unlucky - it was the last one in stock at the time - but it's still not the best sign of quality.
- The wrist cuffs they sell tend to be rather loose. I can't decide whether to sew them a little smaller or to use them as sock toppers for crew socks. Some of them have dodgy lace.
- The headbows are nice and there's quite a wide selection - the ones made entirely of lace are a bit cheap-looking, though.
- I'm rather fond of the ribbon they use for their corset lacing (and I don't normally like ribbon all that much) - it's double-sided and has a light shimmer. The colours match well.
- None of my items stain the water or fade in colour, as far as I can tell, so at least the fabrics they use are dyed well.
In all, Anna House seems to be a pretty good source for lolita clothing. The quality does seem, however, to fluctuate a bit - not to disastrous levels, but minor imperfections may be common. I wonder if they'd accept emails asking them to test out the zippers on each garment before shipping them. ^^;
And that shall be all! /bows