At the end of last month I decided to treat myself to a short trip to Tokyo to visit Swimmer for the last time before they closed and to hang out at the LaForet Grand Bazaar. While many lolitas like to visit Japan during New Years for the Fukubukuro releases, I’ve had too many lackluster experiences with lucky packs to justify dealing with the long lines and cold weather. Instead, I prefer to time my trips around the seasonal sales, and LaForet Harajuku’s Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest weekends of the season. Visitors can expect long lines, daily crowds, and special sets released just for the occasion – but if you know what you’re looking for, the discounts can be worth it.
LaForet Grand Bazar Weekend
Every January Laforet hosts a big sale that most stores participate in. For those of you interested in lolita fashion, the B1 and B1.5 floors are filled with girls dressed in their finest for the big sales. At first I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to go this year, since I couldn’t think of a single series from last year I was dying to pick up, but once the special set flyers started to appear Angelic Pretty had my attention.
As you can see, most of these are a rehash in some way or another- we’ve seen Chocolate Rosette time and again, and Sweetie Bakery, Suya Suya and Baked Sweets Parade had a hard time selling out the first time around. But still, for many girls the discounted prices were worth it, and for most releases there were long lines regardless.
One of the items that did catch my eye was the Lovely Snow Fantasy series. I arrived a day after it had been released, so I was lucky to see it in person. While the original series was also on sale, I felt that the mint colorway was quite vibrant, and helped to differentiate it from Sugar Dream Dome. I also like that it comes with a headbow, but I suspect most people will find it difficult to coordinate since the mint is quite soft compared to other shades that Angelic Pretty uses.
Out of all the items, Toy Circus and Queen Chocolate both had the biggest discounts. In addition to being 70% off, they also had deals for each additional dress you purchased! While I was standing in line to check out, I noticed that the girl in front was holding several Queen Chocolate dresses in the same cut and colorway – and when she reached the register they out pulled several bags of the same dress out as well! As they finished cashing her out I ended up catching a glimpse of her total – over 200,000 yen! All on Queen Chocolate Dresses! Insane!
After the first two days of shopping I was feeling a bit burnt out – especially since the only new stock showing up were the special sets. Compared to other Grand Bazaar events that I’ve visited, this one had a lot of stock – but mostly of the same items. However, on my last day in Tokyo Angelic Pretty announced that they would be doing a make-to-order for the Dream Marine series. As some of you may know, since I’ve been babbling about this series a lot, Dream Marine is one of my favorite prints and I’ve been dying to get my hands on the Lavender OP. Initially I wanted to see if my shopping service would pick it up for me, but there was an issue with the Paypal transfers due to the difference in time zones, so I ended up placing the order myself! It was quite an ordeal since I’m not at all fluent in Japanese, but Google Translate has a new feature that will automatically change the text if you hover your cellphone camera over a forum, and thanks to that I was able to fill out all of the Make to Order paperwork.
Angelic Pretty Sample Sale
One of the main events I wanted to participate in was the Sample Sale, so I ended up spending that afternoon hanging out at LaForet. For those of you who have never been able to attend a sample sale what ends up happening is this – everyone is requested to line up at a specific time, and then small groups (usually 10-15 people) are brought to the store front and allowed to shop in a group. You get about 10 minutes to go through the new items and select up to 5 items that you’d like to purchase – dresses, bags and accessories all must be within that limit. While in the past I’ve found quite a few buried treasures at the sample sales, it is important to note that all of the goods being sold are “b” quality or factory samples – so there might be some differences between the original releases and the items at these sales. And, unless there is a big difference or error, the items available are usually very close in cost to the original release price – so this is more an opportunity to grab something that sold out quick than it is a chance to get a great discount.
After grabbing something to eat I decided to find out where the line would be, since the staircase that Angelic Pretty usually uses was being occupied by girls waiting to shop at Baby the Stars Shine Bright. One of the shop girls directed me to the staircase behind the bathroom at floor B.1 and I walked over to check it out. I was happy to see that only one girl was there, meaning I’d be second in line! With nothing else left to do for the day I ended up hanging out there for an hour or so, and I noticed an unusual phenomenon – every time a new girl would come to the staircase they would look at the sign on the wall and walk away to form a different line – even if the other girls in line with me confirmed that they were in the right place. At first I thought that maybe they wanted to shop somewhere else and were just checking out the line size (maybe 10 girls) but then I realized that no – two other lines had formed outside of the bathroom.
At first I wasn’t too upset, but when the shop girls came to organize everyone, there was a moment where they started to speak to one of the other lines (about twenty girls) first. Then, as she reached our group, the girl in front of me mentioned that we’d been waiting there for several hours before anyone else showed up, but the other girls didn’t want to stand in line with us. The shop girl thanked her for the explanation and made everyone else go to the end of the “correct” line – and then she left and collected the girls from a third line and sent them to the very end again! The whole thing was very confusing, and compared to other releases it seemed very tense. I am also not really sure what was going on with the girls who came and started a second line right in front of ours – did they know the girls standing around me and not like them, or was the sign confusing them? Regardless, if they had gotten in the correct line when they first arrived, they would have been in the second or third group to go in, so they only hurt their chances at scoring a good item.
After a few minutes of waiting for stragglers, they started preparing everyone to go into the store. They asked us to line up two by two on the staircase, and separated us out into 10 people groups. The girls directly behind me were being really loud and aggressive, and the shop girl had to tell them several times to settle down. Then, as we started walking towards the store the girls behind me all started shouting to “go faster!” and then they started pushing me while I was walking! This really upset me because I have never been deliberately touched, let alone pushed at one of these events, and it really ruined the “private” shopping experience that you get when only small groups are allowed in the store. As usual, everyone went to check out the dresses first – but unlike last year the tone was compeletly different. Instead of browsing quietly girls were just grabbing armfuls of dresses off the racks and then stalking off to a corner to check the prices and prints on the tags. From what I could see most of the items available were factory samples from 2016 – and none of them where particularly rare or popular, so why the craze I wasn’t really sure. The whole display (particularly after being shoved around so much) was so offputting that I ended up leaving the sad rack of leftovers to poke through the accessories.
By that point I was feeling quite tired and stressed, but my mood picked up quite a bit when I realized that the Yumeiru Present Box tights in the accessories bin were actually unreleased factory sample OTKs! This was quite a big deal because AP’s tights are too short for me, and I’ve had a pretty difficult time matching legwear for my OP. To make things even better, a few headdresses I’d missed out on were available as “B” sample goods – meaning that they were all 50% off!
While I was pretty happy with the small items I purchased, I was disappointed with the overall shopping experience. As I mentioned earlier, when I’ve attended these types of events in the past they are usually pretty organized despite the stores being so crowded. And again, people used to follow the instructions for lining up and they certainly never used to push or shout at the people in front of them! I’m hoping that Angelic Pretty starts banning this type of behavior and is better organized in the future, but I worry that they’ll continue to turn a blind eye in favor of a higher profit margin.
Anyway! Sorry to end on such a low note!! Overall I had a nice time hanging out and shopping with a friend, and I’d be happy to do a post about the difference between “factory samples” and “b” items if there is any interest!
Thanks for reading!