Last night, the world’s most popular lolita community — EGL — announced that discussion and trading of replicas is now forbidden across all of its services, including EGL Community Sales. The decision was prompted by what sounds like a Cease & Desist (or some equivalent thereof) sent by a lolita brand in Japan. They didn’t say which one, though current trends would dictate it was likely Angelic Pretty.
More specifically, the ban applies only to replica pieces that are replicating “copyrighted material”. In the fashion world, you can’t copyright much — this rule basically means that only items reproducing prints and logos are banned, since you cannot copyright design features of clothing. That means that shoes, bags, and clothing items with designs that are inspired or directly lifted from brand items are still fair game. This is a pretty lenient policy on EGL’s part. It’s also good for a lot of people since many lolita brands have incredibly limited shoe sizing.
Despite the complaints of a vocal minority in the comments, the reaction seems to be generally positive. And to those of you who think this is a bad decision, I’d like to take a bit of time to explain why this is a Very Good Thing.
Support from lolita brands
Over the past few years, we’ve seen lolita brands in Japan greatly expand their support for overseas customers. Many brands now have English-speaking staff to answer customer inquiries, overseas shipping, and expanded sizing options. There are even some stores open outside of Japan. Surely, these brands are doing this largely because they believe there is money to be had by appealing to international consumers, but the leap of faith they are taking cannot be understated.
How can support of the international lolita community be expected to continue when that community is supporting the sales of counterfeit items? It can’t, really. I can’t imagine how it must feel for the designers of lolita brands to see that the international lolita community is in support of ripping off their work.
It’s about respect
My favourite Japanese brand is Kiryuyrik designed by Masakatsu Takayanagi. We are friends on Facebook. We have exchanged messages with each other. They’ve replaced defective products for me and helped me find sold out items. It is more expensive than most lolita brands. However, Takayanagi is an artist owning a small brand and trying to make a living doing what he loves. Most of the lolita brands are similar. They are not huge corporations. They seem like giants in the sphere of lolita, but they are really small independent companies trying to make money in a highly niche, highly competitive market. I would bet that Bodyline is probably a bigger company than most of the lolita brands.
I couldn’t buy a replica of Takayanagi’s designs, even if they were identical except for the lower price. He is the guy who created that artwork originally. He is trying to make a living doing what he does. If I am going to enjoy his work, it’s only fair that he gets paid for it.
The lolita brands that some people are all-too-happy to ignore when it comes to participating in the style are largely responsible for the style existing at all. They are the backbone of the culture. Without them, there’s nothing.
“It’s too expensive!”
It is not fair game just because the original maker does not want to make it cheaper. The original makers are trying to make good clothing that fits with their image. Of course money is the end goal, but it is not the 100% motivation like it is for these replica brands. So to reprimand a brand for not producing lowest common denominator garbage and using it as a justification for others to steal their work is frankly baffling.
If you want to wear replicas, nobody can stop you. But it gets insane when people try to say the brands deserve to be ripped off for being expensive. These clothes are NOT that expensive if you compare them to fashion beyond Wal-Mart or horrible mall brands. These are generally well made items, with custom artwork commissioned for each design, and there are stores to rent, employees to pay … people won’t be happy until these brands aren’t making any money, and then they will die, and there will be no good designs left to rip off.
There is room for affordable lolita clothing
Replica doesn’t have to be the only way. There’s a shockingly underserved market for low-end lolita clothing that isn’t being served by anyone except for maybe Bodyline, who are often selling replicas as well. But a few things need to happen:
- Lolitas need to stop demanding brand replicas and start being OK with original designs from low-end makers
- Replica-producers need to reposition themselves as producers of low-end “inspired” clothing
- Everyone needs to understand that design and artwork takes time to produce — and that is going to raise prices
What do you think?
Generally, we’re of the opinion that this is a step in the right direction for the lolita community as a whole. Hopefully with this move, the level of respect it gets from Japanese brands will increase, and we will see more international support from those brands.
What do you think of EGL’s decision or the replica issue as a whole? We’d love to hear it, so send us a message or reblog this article with your comments!
To debunk some of the things I’ve seen written about this:
“Gucci, Chanel, LV get knocked off all the time, but you don’t see them complain about it!”
Actually yeah, they do complain about it, and rightfully so. Despite how I feel about these brands, they have a right to protect their IP. That said, most of these brands are not losing sales because someone buys a $50 replica of a $2000+ bag, because that is a stratospheric price difference. You can’t compare that to a $60-100 replica of a $300 dress.
“Fashion has no copyright, so replicas can’t be illegal.”
To reiterate — fashion design in the context of garment pattern has no copyright, but the artwork and logos attached to a design are under copyright law.
“What about plus size and others who cannot fit into lolita brand clothing?”
This is an unfortunate situation with no easy answer. It’s more ambiguous certainly because a lolita who buys a replica of a brand piece she cannot fit into is not a “lost sale” for the brand — however, that kind of ambiguity isn’t possible to enforce. There are low-end brands producing stuff for all shapes and sizes out there without recreating artwork. You just have to look.
I’m glad they done this. :D