A Brief MinkyShop Guide to Japanese and Asian Fashion Brands
Lots of Japanese and Asian brands represent different styles and fashion trends. Sometimes it can be confusing (it confuses us!), and there are a lot of questions about where the stock originates from and where the main area of distribution is. In this small guide we'll try to clear up a few questions about some of the brands featured in-store.
- Are these Japanese items?
Yes, but you may have noticed that China is now the largest manufacturer of products in the world. Most things in your house have probably been made in China, including your Nintendo 3DS and other common applicances. This is because major companies have moved their industries to China to take advantage of lower manufacturing costs. That doesn't mean lower quality items: that's a myth! It's up to the company to ensure quality control of their products, which is why your PlayStation 3 doesn't break down (hopefully). The Japanese market for modern fashion wear and Lolita style clothing and footwear is enormous, and 90% of produce is made in China and then distributed in Japan. This is bad news if you're a Japanese resident because brands like Liz Lisa and Angelic Pretty are very expensive.
- Where are these items sold?
Most commonly, you'll find the shoes and clothing we have in stock in Japanese fashion boutiques, where a lot of footwear is often rebranded with different names to match the store they're being sold in. They're not necessarily marked as "Secret Shop" when they're distributed in Japan. Of course, because they're made in China to enormous orders, they are also distributed all over the country and into South Korea too. But they're not sold in high street stores is in the west, where they aren't considered popular mainstream items.
- Are your brand products genuine?
Yes, it's the exact same clothing you'll see in Japan's ViVi fashion magazine, or Lolita footwear commonly seen in the streets of Tokyo. We can halve the price of Japan's RRP by distributing directly from the manufacturing source. Our competitors aren't so transparent when it comes to affordable pricing: they like to charge you top dollar for the exact same items.
- How does MinkyShop stay so cheap then?
Well, we're honest for a start. There is lots of confusion about how low-priced brand products can be genuine when they're sold for cheaper than Japan's RRP, but rest assured our stock is the real thing. They are the exact same items that line the shelves of Japan's top fashion boutiques, and made to a beautiful high quality finish.
Here's a brief overview of how the process works:
- Surplus: For example, the company orders 10,000 pieces, but only take 7,000 in the end, which are then picked up by merchants outside of Japan.
- Ex-stock: For example, a set quota is requested by the company for 10,000 t-shirts, but when the quota is completed there is enough left over material to produce 3,000 additional t-shirts. These are then produced and either left untagged or retagged and sold to merchants outside of Japan.
In some cases tags may be cut, retagged, or removed for legal reasons, since they haven't gone through the normal distribution channels, but the quality of the item itself remains uncompromised. MinkyShop will always state on a listing if the tags have been removed, to the best of our knowledge.
Please note: This information only relates to brand clothing.
Liz Lisa is an extremely popular Japanese fashion brand that began in Shibuya, Tokyo, and now have 30 stores across the country. Commonly seen in magazines such as ViVi, Pinky and Scawaii, Liz Lisa is known for beautiful, girly styles, and are always right on the pulse of current fashion trends. A pretty yummy brand.
This one of Japan's more recent clothing brands, created by Wakatsuki Chinatsu. W♥C is part of a new era of Gyaru fashion, traditionally recognised for having big hair, big bows and unique styling. W♥C ranges from having an urban 'new vintage' look to the current season's Casual Bohe (Bohemian) style. A very funky label featured regularly in Popteen, Scawaii and ViVi magazines, and with several high street stores in Tokyo. Easily recognised by Kumatan, the brand's mascot bear character.
Sometimes written as An*Tai*Na, this is a well known Lolita shoe manufacturer who distribute to Japan and Asia, and make shoes to custom size and fit. They are a rival manufacturer to Secret Shop and have an enormous catalogue of footwear.
A popular Japanese clothing brand, also seen regularly in up-market fashion magazines such as ViVi. The Snidel range is very desirable, featuring beautiful clothing for all seasons. Unfortunately this also makes them very hard to track down, so we don't often have much Snidel stock available at MinkyShop... but we try!
Secret Shop are the most commonly recognised brand name for Lolita and Japanese punk style footwear. Their items are seen all over Japan and Asia (and often rebranded by independent shops and small chains) and are known for their excellent quality. They also produce Lolita stockings, and export their footwear to Gothic Lolita, Punk and Sweet Lolita boutiques across Japan.
Angelic Pretty are one of Japan's largest names in Lolita clothing, with stores in Harajuku and Shinjuku. It's not really possible to obtain Angelic Pretty clothing at the moment as it's a very specialist brand. However, we do obtain unbranded or rebranded clothing that is essentially the same. You may see us refer to something as 'AP' style, and this would be in reference to the type of clothing/footwear Angelic Pretty is known for.
Ah, we love Rilakkuma! As is common in Japan, Rilakkuma is a contraction of two words: 'relax' and 'kuma'. If you didn't already know, kuma is Japanese for 'bear'. So put it together and you have Rilakkuma the relaxed bear! He's Japan's most popular mascot at the moment, and can be found everywhere in the shopping high street. He comes not only as a plush toy, but also in a range of products that include mobile phone holders, cushions and just about anything else you can think of.
You may see the following abbreviations listed in MinkyShop listings. Here's what they mean:
AP: Angelic Pretty
EGL: Refers to 'Elegant Gothic Lolita', a particular Lolita clothing style that's... elegant!
RHS: 'Rocking Horse Shoes', referring to a cut-out back normally found on large, faux wood platform shoes. Originally designed by Vivienne Westwood.