Over the course of 2015 and 2016, Angelic Pretty has experimented with multiple re-releases and make to order releases each season, and appears to have upped their production of stock. While there are those who assumed that the sitting product indicated that AP had lost its popularity to the growing classic crowd, I feel that the constant push of items (both new and old) at a higher volume indicates that the brand is expanding pretty rapidly!
The new supply cycle seems to come with both benefits and drawbacks for the sweet lolita community. When I started paying attention to Angelic Pretty their items were scarce, and hard to get. Every month there was one major release, and a reservation period was open for a few days at the beginning of the month. If you had a shopping service (which was the only way to order back then) you would ask them to purchase the item for you, and then wait until the end of the month when it arrived. Then, any left-over stock would make its way to the online shop and stores, and you’d have a second chance if you’d missed out on the reservation period. While this seems similar to the MTO releases we have today, I’m not sure that it is exactly the same. Often times items would sell out on reservation, or specific cuts and colorways would never make it to the shops. I can’t be 100% certain, but I think that AP already had the items in production, and the items were pretty much ready to be shipped by the time they were announced. It would certainly explain how the turn around from order to shipping was only a month, unlike the 6 month timeframes we see now.
From this, we moved to an english language website and authorized sellers like Starry Candy Box and Tokyo Rebel. All of these operated similarly from what I remember, with a reservation period following the series announcement – often very short lived and difficult to participate in. After Starry Candy Box and Tokyo Rebel were no longer selling AP, Angelic Pretty USA and the Angelic Pretty International shop became the go-to places for western lolitas who didn’t want or know how to deal with a shopping service. But all of these releases sold out in minutes, and a series had to be extremely unpopular to linger around any of the english language websites. This meant that quite a few western lolitas still used shopping services, and eventually Angelic Pretty International was absorbed back into the Japanese website.
Still, until this year most popular releases were extremely difficult to get ahold of. And while AP has increased the number of series released each month by an overwhelming amount, it hasn’t necessarily reduced the irritation of long time fans who have grown tired of waiting up all night just to come away empty handed. Most popular releases these days take at least a few days to sell out in the most coveted cuts and colorways, and often times the less desired items remain for months. Personally, I’m happy that I can purchase from a release without dreading the experience!
Another benefit of the increase in MTOs and Re-releases is that everyone has an opportunity to get the items that they want, both now and on the secondhand market. This is a good way of combating the issue of “superior quality” replicas as absurd second hand prices and scarcity can no longer justify replica production. People have the opportunity to purchase directly from the artists and designers who work hard on the original products, and at a reasonable price. It has also dramatically reduced the second hand prices on holy grail items like Misty Sky, Chocolate Rosette, and Holy Lantern, which certainly benefits buyers who might not be able to plunk down the cash all at once.
As of right now, there are only two negatives that I see in this situation. The first is that the sheer volume of series being released every month is difficult to keep up with, and has been slowly driving down prices and sales in the secondhand market. While this might not be a problem for you if you’ve only ever bought items with the intention of keeping them permanently, many lolitas utilize the secondhand communities as a way to swap out dresses seasonally without having to continually invest more money and space towards their wardrobe. The general devaluation of items across the board has been difficult to manage, unless you only purchase second hand. Obviously, Angelic Pretty’s increased production isn’t the only thing driving down prices. Those who follow Lolita Updates could easily tell you that it seems a lot more like Taobao updates these days, and the strong dollar to yen exchange rate has made it easier to justify a purchase from overseas. So this might have happened independantly of the new release system.
The other issue that I’ve noticed is that sometimes the MTO items don’t seem to be the same quality as the original. I can’t be 100% certain because I usually don’t order from a MTO if I already own the original, but when I’ve seen some of the items in store I was put off by the type of chiffon they used (Cherry Marguerite felt like plastic! :C ) or a change in the lace or trim. Now, that isn’t to say that all MTO items are like this – the Holy Lantern series looked identical to the originals, and the MTO for Wrapping Cherry was absolutely adorable!!
But all of that aside, I really think that the pros outweigh the cons in this situation. Overall, it is now significantly easier to get the items you want than it has been in the past, and I have the feeling that this trend could help cut down on the number of replicas produced, and even some of the jealous bickering we see so often!
Here’s hoping, anyway!
Any thoughts? I’d love to hear them!