Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some Thoughts on Replicas

First off, I would like to start this post by asking a question of my beloved readers whom I have so neglected. Does anyone know how to make blogger not shut off my router? For the past couple months I have had the problem of Blogger crashing my router and having to turn it off before it will reconnect to the internet. I am currently at a Starbucks. No problems thus far, but I can't promise I will be able to maintain a regular posting schedule if I have to go to Starbucks. However, I have quite a back log of posts to put up, so much reading will come along! Yay!

On to the good stuff; the Great Replica Debate. As the US economy sputters along, the demand for replicas is apparently climbing. Some people would argue this is inevitable. The number of lolitas who are working lower paying jobs than they have in the past, or are unemployed is higher than in the past. Combine that with an influx of younger lolitas with limited incomes brought in as lolita fashion becomes more accessible. The buying power of the US lolita community is shrinking, so although the demand for brand styles remains, the ability to purchase full price, or marked up, brand is diminishing. In simple terms, a fair number of folks can't afford this stuff anymore, at least not if we want to keep a roof over our heads and food in our cute clad tummies.

So what is there left to do? We want cute/classy/elegant brand, but are out of cash? We, as a whole, are turning to replicas more than we have in the past. But is that really OK? Should we be buying replicas?I think the issue is more complicated than should or shouldn't.

Cost and quality aside, replicas are exactly what they claim to be, a copy of someone's work. Ultimately my opinion on replicas comes down to the intent of the replica. It is not right to make money off of someone's creative work. If a seamstress makes her own detailed copy of a brand dress, for her own use, and does not intend to sell it to someone else, then what is the harm, especially if she does the dress in a color or detail not available on the original dress. If there is not an intent to make a profit, then I really don't find harm.

The question on everyone's mind is, “Do I buy what has already been made?” That takes some examination. Why do you want the replica?

  • Is real brand too expensive? Could you afford it if you saved up for a while?
  • Are you going to wear this someplace where real brand could get destroyed?
  • Do you like the print/fabric but want a different article of clothing than what the brand is offering?
  • Are you outside of the size range of the brand but the replica is being offered in a size that fits?
  • Are you a soul-less monster who doesn't care about anyone else and thinks brands are evil and too expensive?

Ok, kidding with the last one, but these are all legitimate reasons to consider buying a replica. I would advise one to consider some of the following options before springing on that great priced replica.

  • Hit the sales communities to cut costs. You can find brand or replicas at great prices there, and you can negate the guilt factor of buying a used replica because it is used. The people who made it already got their money, and you are not supporting them by purchasing a gently used item. Similarly you can find the real deal at about the cost of the replica.
  • Consider where you are wearing this to. If you are sure the piece will be destroyed in a single use you probably should buy the replica, or possibly not wear lolita to the event. Unless its a themed meetup, things like paintball, farm work, house painting, and otherwise inherently dirty activities don't require lolita, so for Pete's sake just wear jeans.
  • If you are in search of fabric to pirate for other items, again I suggest the sales communities. Make a want to buy post for items of that print, real or replica, that are damaged in some way, but you can still get what you need. Just need the boarder? Lots of people stain dresses on the bodice, so you are still golden. Just trying to match fabric colors to get a little let out in a piece you already own? Buying the piece with a tear on one side you can easily work around. It would be much cheaper too, since often the owner has already counted the piece as a loss, so any money made from the sale is a step up for them.
  • When it comes to size it can be tricky. If you are smaller than the size range a good seamstress can take the piece in, but if you are larger often you are stuck. Often the companies that make the better replicas also do custom sizing (for a surprisingly nominal fee). At that point, I don't feel that I can make a statement. I am a slight person, who fits into brand just fine, and has found, sometimes, that it runs a little large on me. (I will go hide while my beloved curvy friends throw things at me.) I love that, were I financially able, I could order any of my dream dresses, they would arrive on my doorstep, and I could put them on and have them fit right there and then. At 5 foot 4 and carrying all my height in my legs, sometimes dresses run a little short on me, but wearing tights instead of (or in addition to) socks, and I am fine. I love this, its wonderful, and its a feeling I really think all lolitas should have. That moment of feeling special, like this beautiful dress was made just for me. Money is something enough patience can work around, but fit is something else entirely.

That is the point I suppose I shall leave up to you, dear readers. At what point is it ok to go for a replica?