A sincere thank you to everyone who has contributed to the conversation over the past few days. Before we leave this in the past (for now), I have a few final words on it.
I have seen a lot of discussions about how this effects people for various reasons, be it that brands don’t make clothing in their size, or it’s too expensive, or what-have-you. I’ll come right out and say it: this line of reasoning is completely invalid.
Replica does not mean off-brand. It means just that — a direct replica of somebody else’s copyrighted work. (I believe the term should extend to obvious pattern recreations as well, but for the purposes of this conversation, it only applies to copyrighted artwork and logos.) So, yes, while it does suck if you cannot afford or wear a legit print for whatever reason, that doesn’t give you license to buy a counterfeit of that piece from someone else. What it should encourage you to do is to buy a dress that suits you, your lifestyle, your budget, that has been created without stealing somebody else’s hard work. There are plenty of brands on Taobao doing non-replica stuff in lots of different sizes and price ranges. Bodyline is not solely a replica company any longer. There are options.
But I don’t want those! I want that Angelic Pretty print! Just for $250 less.
Oh, well then. Steal away.
Wait, what? I’m a male and my interest in fashion is largely in the mid to high end Japanese designers. I’m an active member of several fashion communities, most of them being general fashion communities, not specifically Japanese fashion. So maybe there is some integral part of the “lolita experience” that I am missing, but I have to say, I have never, ever seen counterfeits portrayed in a positive light until now.
People are trying to cast the big lolita brands as luxury brands who won’t miss the money in order to absolve themselves. Listen, Maki and Asuka aren’t swimming around in a vault full of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. While I don’t doubt that the major lolita brands are doing well enough, they are not luxury conglomerates like Louis Vuitton. They are relatively small companies operating within an extremely small niche, and they support the entire culture of lolita because their existence depends on it.
So when you decide to give your money to someone who has literally stolen from them, you are sending a very clear message: I don’t care if lolita brands exist or lolita brands survive as long as I can get whatever I want at whatever price I feel like paying. You are not just fucking over the owners of these big brands but everyone they employee and all of the effort that has been put into sustaining the lolita culture for roughly three decades.
I realize that, for a lot of people, price is the big issue. But it’s no excuse. I could argue how stores like H&M and Forever 21 have completely skewed our perception of what clothing should cost, and how lolita brands are generally fairly reasonably priced, but I won’t waste my time because I think it will fall on deaf ears.
What I am going to do is encourage you to spend your money not on replicas, but on original designs created by lower end designers. And I think the proponents of a more accessible lolita culture are misguided to not promote this above all else. A culture cannot be sustained on counterfeit goods, but low-end brands doing their own design work do have a lot to contribute, and they deserve as much support as the “big brands.”
If anyone knows about any good, lower-end lolita brands that could use some promotion, please let me know. If you’re a designer, even better.
Thanks for reading!
definitely not a lolita, but a definite lolita-lover