Monday, 26 August 2013

Goth Wishlist & Inspiration 2013~

This post is about updating my 'Gothic' fashion style and what inspires me at the moment but I've also treated it a bit like a pillow book/personal diary, rambling on...so please, skip the rambling if you like and get to the pretty pictures. :3

Lately I've been in a bit of a slump...both mentally and style-wise. One of the reasons is that I never really dress up much...I mean, I still wear skirts and what people consider 'nice' clothes to run errands (you'd never catch me in jeans or sweatpants!) but I don't make an extra effort with my make-up, clothing, I forget to put accessories on, etc. I know it's because lately I haven't really been doing much other than running errands in town and to the post office and going to visit my mum so why bother making a extra special effort to get ready when no one will take notice? That goes against everything I believe in but again, it's not like I've totally let myself go, I just don't do much nowadays. Another reason I don't go out much or make an extra effort is because I'm saving money for Frock On, which I am beyond excited for. I can't make myself feel good by buying cute clothes at the moment because I want to buy them at Frock On instead! It's the ultimate delayed gratification, haha. Even though I just bought two brand dresses to wear for the Saturday and Sunday of Frock On, I still feel like I haven't bought anything in ages which sounds really spoiled/ungrateful. I am more than sure I won't feel this way when the dresses actually arrive!

So as I said, I've been feeling a bit in a slump and I'm trying to crawl my way out of it without *actually* spending any money because Frock On. I found Jet's (creator of VF) Goth Pinterest board full of gorgeous Goth girls tonight and have been picking up inspiration and making a wishlist of items to update my Goth wardrobe as soon as Frock On has passed! It's a way of passing the time, getting out of the slump and not spending any money all in one. >:3 So I made a Polyvore of my latest Goth wishlist and provided some of the photos taken from Jet's Pinterest board that piqued my interest, inspired me and inspired the board!


That's a lot of nuts!

Simple everyday Goth style Dark eye make-up, morbid jewellery, simple black clothes <3
I love these effortlessly Goth outfits with simple staple pieces. From the first photo of the cute girls, I want a studded choker, black underbust corset and a couple more of pairs of stompy boots. XD I love the mesh top the girl in the second photo is wearing and the bird skull necklace - I've loved bird skull stuff ever since I saw Ginger Snaps.

#Goth girl from Japan, hair inspiration!From Closet of Milk and Honey, this Hipster #Goth girl certainly has a powerful look
Super cute Goth girlLittle #Pastel-Goth, #Lollipop-Goth, Kawaii in training. Why not let her dress up and have fun?
I love to see Asian girls wearing Goth fashion as they put such a cute twist on it. I really love the first girls' hair and make-up as well as ripped sleeves. I pretty much love everything on the second girl. XD I added a pair of black rocking horse shoes, striped tights/stockings and a spike headband onto my wishlist from the third girl's cute outfit. I've wanted a pair of eyeball hair bows for a while and I love the fourth girl's pigtails and make-up!

Pin-up, retro look
I love this 'corporate Goth' look - I used to give stuff like this the name 'office goth' but I didn't realise there was already a name for it. I'd love to be able to dress like this for a smart job and still rock my style but I'd be nervous of trying too hard to look different, haha. I love the pinstriped blouse the above girl is wearing!

Old school Goth
Ah, old school traditional/80s Goth. Whilst I don't think I could rock a death-hawk, I love the layering that goes on with these outfits. I need like, a ton of ripped under tops and shrugs to wear with everything! I love the skirt, belt and tights combo the third girl has. This photo makes me want cute Goth friends to be cute and Gothy with. T_T

Gothic Gyaru Style!~
I found this awesome Gothic Gyaru photo on Jet's Pinterest board. I love the glamourous look it gives Goth. I don't wear jeans so I would pair the cute New Rock boots with a fitted skirt and tights, perhaps with a belt. I like the girl's hair because it's similar to mine so it makes me think I can achieve this look. <3

Love the skeleton dress
Whilst I'm not a fan of the Emo element in this outfit (the fishnet gloves and thick rimmed glasses) I adore the dress. I found the one on my wishlist on a fancy dress website for just £12! I found another one on a Gothic website but the fancy dress one actually has more detail and is almost half the price. XD


I love the layered look of this Lolita-inspired outfit. The layered, asymmetrical skirt, stockings and suspenders, cute hair style and arm garters are to die for. That wasn't supposed to be a cheesy Goth pun either!

Glam Rock #Goth girl
I love this Glam Rock inspired outfit, especially the skirt. I added some different styled black skirts to my wishlist as you can never have too many.

Amazing mouse headband!
Isn't this girl's mouse/rat headband amazingly cute? I love it! I definitely want to make one and some to sell when Halloween rolls around.

#Goth girl Model Jenna Kitti. I want aviator goggles!
I've wanted a pair of aviator goggles for a while, especially since they are being used in Gyaru fashion more and more too. I love the Steampunky look of them combined with the dark colours.

Cute Goth GirlSuper cute Gothy buns!
I don't think this is the same girl in both photos. I really love their hair though and have added it to my 'hair inspiration' Pinterest board! I love their simple, all black outfits too and the clumpy flatform shoes used. I really miss my Demonia Emily 302 ones, I need to get the elastic straps replaced as they have been stretched out with use. I also have a pair of Kera flatforms that the sole need gluing back to the platform. Pretty much 50% of my shoe collection is out of commission because I need to pay for them to be repaired. >_<

A great mash-up of cyber, rave, glam, great!A happy #Cybergoth girl at Wave Gotik Treffen - I have this skirt, never thought to use it in this way!
I really love Cyber Goth fashion but I only tend to wear one colour with black and it's usually pink. I love the totally wearable all-black outfit on the left. I love the spiderweb design under-top too! I've decided to rekindle my love of dreadfalls by adding some plain black ones and some black & pink ones to my wishlist. I think they'd look cute with my fringe, tied up in bunches and attached. I love the happy Cyber girl on the right and I actually have that skirt so I never thought to combine it in an outfit like this! I want a black and pink corset and dreadfalls now. I love her Demonia boots too but I think those style are quite hard to find.

I've also been really bored of not doing anything with my hair...I have it the colour, length and style I want, why can't I do anything with it?! I seriously suck at hair. >_<; So I need some super cute hair inspiration to go with my updated look!

Crimped hair
All I can do with my hair at this point is straighten it and put it into a messy ponytail. Not a 'looks good messy' ponytail, just a 'this looks like shit even though I tried really hard' one. I figure crimping hair can't be much different from straightening it (except you probably don't run your hair 'through' the crimpers, more like just press it on and remove) and you get cute, fluffy crimpy hair so this will be my starting point in 'Hair 101'! >:D

Gorgeous pinned back hair
This looks like such a cute hairstyle but it's another one of those that, when I attempt it, will look like I've got my head caught in a bush. I assume the theory of this hairstyle is to pick sections of your hair up, sort of wrap it round your head and pin? I wonder what the back looks like, though...Maybe you have to sort of roll it up before you pin so it isn't just hanging and looking straggly at the back.

Gorgeous Gothic hair! I need more hair inspirations!
I really love this Gothy take on a princessy style! I hope a style like this is achievable with my hair. This girl is just a huge inspiration in everything to me, whoever she is.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Lolita Inspired Music

Over the past couple of days, I've been trying to find new music to listen to. I never realised Google has a feature where, when you type a singer or band you already like into Google, it shows other artists other people like and have Googled based on what you just typed in! I found this out whilst I typed in 'Ali Project' to check if they consider themselves Visual Kei (they did a while back, not so much now). Using other results I got back, I've got a pretty long list of music to try and I also found a few artists who might even be considered 'Lolita' music. Whether that is just because of their fashion, music style or a bit of both, that's a great sign! It shows more people are interested in Lolita fashion and that singers aren't afraid to wear the style of clothing they love. However, I hope it won't spawn a new phase of 'faux Lolita artists' who only act like they like Lolita to get popular... ^^;

So I thought it'd be a good idea to put together a list of Lolita inspired artists that others can check out! I find it reassuring that I can add Lolita style music to the 'Lolita' things you can do, such as wearing the fashion, blogging, etc. Sometimes the artist doesn't even have to be visibly Lolita inspired or sounding, it can be their band concept, lyrics, a notion, even only one of their songs. What I might find Lolita inspiring, the next girl might not, especially when you consider 'Gothic Lolita' inspired music, which people can have very different views about. Some people even debate whether 'Lolita music' exists - I think it's nice to have some music that has Lolita inspiration, sounds and notions whether it's to listen to whilst getting ready for a meet, listen to to feel inspired or if you're a bit sad, etc. However, I think girls who consider Lolita more of a 'lifestyle' rather than just a fashion may feel they can relate more to Lolita influenced music and of course, you don't have to listen to 'Lolita music' in order to be Lolita! Listen to whatever you want, wear whatever you want!

Nana Kitade

I found Nana Kitade through the first ever anime I watched, Fullmetal Alchemist and she got me into Lolita. I hear a few people saying that so Nana Kitade is obviously a popular Lolita and music choice. What makes her stand out above other singers is her mixture of cute and edgy, both with her fashion and music style. Popular songs from Nana are 'Kibou no Kakera', 'Antoinette Blue' and 'Kanashimi no Kizu'.

Kanon Wakeshima

Because Nana Kitade disappeared from the public eye a while ago, Kanon Wakeshima is like 2008's Nana Kitade. She came along, handpicked by Mana of Moi Dix Mois and Malice Mizer, cello in hand to provide us with cute, classically infused and edgy music, similar to Nana Kitade. She came to Hyper Japan in 2011 and I really regret missing her performance.

ALI PROJECT

ALI PROJECT (or 'アリプロ' (Ali Pro) for short) are one of my favourite bands. Arika Takarano is a fashion idol as well as ridiculously musically talented and she has experimented and wore a lot of different fashion styles, including Lolita, Gyaru, Visual Kei, traditional Japanese inspired wear and more. ALI PROJECT used to sing in a sweeter style they described as 'White Alice' but transitioned into a darker, creepier and classically inspired style, named 'Black Alice' which makes sense. Their music takes me into another world, it's like the Lolita equivalent of Silent Hill, where everything is darker, twisted and not quite right, which makes it all the more addictive and mysterious.

Die Milch
Die Milch are my latest love after meeting Coco at Austen & the Abbey. Well, ever since I heard Coco was attending A&tA, I checked out her music and fell in love. There's nothing quite like ALI PROJECT but Die Milch are similar and just as good. Less creepy elements and more Baroque inspiration as Jasmine is a master at the violin and Coco can play the piano amazingly. Die Milch have played in Japan, Prague and the UK and Coco said she definitely wanted to come back to the UK again soon! I have supported Die Milch from the very beginning, back when Googling 'Die Milch Japan' only got you German websites and photos of milk. At the moment, their album 'Metronom' is available to buy through Amazon JP but you can email them at butler@diemilch.com to enquire about buying CDs from overseas (they may send them to you) and their blog is here. They have a few live videos and a PV for 'Rosaria' at the moment.

Kokusyoku Sumire

Kokusyoku Sumire might not dress or look Lolita sometimes but Caro at FYeahLolita did a great blog post on them explaining why she, and a lot of other people feel Kokusyoku are Lolita feeling. They have a quirky, sometimes classically inspired feel and have a lot of fun with their music and fashion. I often think they are like Japanese Lolita equivalence of Rasputina, who I'll discuss a bit further below.

Emilie Autumn

I'll break up the Japanese artists with a few Western ones! Emilie Autumn is, in her words 'like the best cup of English Breakfast spiked with cyanide and smashed on your antique wallpaper.' Her story, or theme is a Victorian insane asylum patient fighting back against the doctors. Her music is infused with classical and industrial elements like piano, harpsichord, machine noises, drum beats and her vocals range from angelic to banshee like screaming. Her fashion is pretty damn awesome; corsets, bloomers, boots, ripped stockings, feathery mohawks, it's all there. As with Kokusyoku Sumire, some might not consider her Lolita inspired music but she's on the Gothier side of things and has fun with her image.

Hannah Fury

Hannah Fury is like Emilie Autumn's shyer, softer speaking younger sister. She's so shy and sweet, in fact, that she has never played live because she's shy of the limelight. Her music has a fairytale and sing-song quality about them. She loves the story of Wicked (a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, about Glinda the Good Witch and Elphaba, the Witch of the West) and has a whole album or more dedicated to singing songs from Elphaba's point of view. She also loves the image and story of Marie Antoinette. Combine this with her quirky fashion style, haunting melodies and you can see why she would appeal to many Lolitas.

BabyMetal

BabyMetal. J-Pop metal. Fucking awesome. I can say that cuz we're talking about metal. Although I have a small suspicion they might be a 'created' group formed purely for making money because this is what's in at the moment, I really want to believe they're genuine. Su-Metal, the lead girl, is 15 and Moa-Metal and Yui-Metal are both 14. Their outfits are super cute and have Gothic Lolita inspiration (can there be a Metal Lolita substyle? Please say yes.) and fans of heavier styled music might like them so I feel they have a place in this list.

Yukari Tamura
And now for something completely different. Yukari Tamura is so super cute and bubbly, she'll give you toothache. She wears Lolita and Lolita inspired casual wear in most of her music videos. She's been active since 1997 so her earlier outfits are very 'old school' by today's standards but I think it's really sweet and nostalgic. She has moved with the fashion, however, and wears more up to date stuff nowadays. If artists like ALI PROJECT and Emilie Autumn are favoured by the more Gothic Lolitas, Yukari is definitely one in the Sweet style. I think it's great different substyles can listen to different styles of 'Lolita music' haha! That's not, of course, to say you won't enjoy Yukari if you're more Gothic-inclined or can't listen to Ali Pro if you dress sweetly! Personally I think this video is absolutely adorable!

Iruma Rioka

Iruma Rioka is a relatively new (active since 2008) act with a fantastical background. She came from a noble family (Rioka line) who were down on their luck. A witch kidnapped Iruma as a form of payment for their debt and imprisoned her in a tower. She made music to pass the time until a black crow called Nemu was passing and heard her sing. He helped her escape the tower and became part of her act by transforming into a human (cuz he can do that, y'know) and playing guitar. Iruma says she can express herself with her music best because she's introverted, which I think is sweet. Her music is in the same vein of Ali Project and Die Milch, I like her very much. However, her music is almost impossible to download, I've found her first album 'Iruma Rioka' and 'Crimson Princess' so far. There's an indie CD website where you can actually buy her CDs for $15 so I'm gonna do that as soon as I have some money! I hope some of the proceeds go to her. \*0*/

Rasputina

Rasputina are an American trio whose music is heavily driven by cello, both acoustic and electric. The frontwoman is Melora Creager who is a huge history buff (I swear, I've learned more history from Rasputina than school) and loves writing/singing about historical events, most happening during the Victorian era and earlier. Their music has a really cool, quirky feel to it, with a gloomy yet beautiful outlook in life in the 'olden days', sort of like a dystopian past where everything is grey and gloomy. Both their music and style have a dusty, vintage feel to it and Melora's vocals and cello playing give their act a uniqueness hard to replicate. I highly suggest trying their albums 'Frustration Plantation' and 'Oh Perilous World'.

Kukui

Kukui is a duo comprising of Haruka Shimotsuki and Myu. Their most well known song is 'Toumei Shelter', the ending for the first season of Rozen Maiden (currently watching it now!). They have a lighter feel than ALI PROJECT (who did the opening of Rozen Maiden) with sweeter vocals and lyrics. They have a handful of songs available to listen to on YouTube, a number of singles and 2-3 albums depending on if you count mini albums. I really like Kukui, they're easy to listen to, sweet, romantic and relaxing.

The Royal Dead (previously +Phantasmagoria+)

Point 1: The Royal Dead are one of the hardest artists to find and listen to their music. I don't think I've ever found more than one or two cleanly recorded songs but there are a few, albeit poorly recorded and potato sound quality, live videos on YouTube floating around. I discovered The Royal Dead as the singer, HAR (female) was in Gothic & Lolita, a street snap photo book I own. They're on the darker side of 'Lolita inspired music' - their fashion and music style are like Gothic Lolita, Emilie Autumn and Cyber Goth mixed into one so they have more of a Gothic Lolita, Visual Kei and Darkwave taste about them. It's pretty much impossible to find/download/buy their albums - I've found one CD from Tokyo Dark Castle, an 80s-90s Gothic club in Tokyo that used to have all the latest acts and that The Royal Dead used to frequent so the album is obviously a mix of songs from TDC with one or two The Royal Dead songs in there. I've found a couple of their songs on Last.FM and VK as well as an interview by J-Pop World. The reason I put The Royal Dead in here is because I feel darker, Gothic Lolitas will appreciate them and that HAR has Lolita elements in her fashion; like Kokusyoku Sumire, they have fun with their fashion and music.

Kalafina

Like many Japanese artists, Kalafina rose to mild success through making songs for anime; more specifically Kara no Kyoukai. They were 'formed' by composer Yuki Kajiura starting with the two original members, Keiko and Wakana, from FictionJunction, a previous project of Kajiura's. Two other vocalists, Hikaru and Maya, were then chosen from an audition held by Sony (with over 30,000 participants) but a year later, Maya dropped out. They were 'formed' in a similar way to Perfume but I don't see them as artificial; I hope they enjoy the music they create and the styles of fashion they wear, and are just happy and lucky they were able to be chosen and rise to fame. Kalafina have a 'chamber pop' sound to them, it's a lot cleaner and polished than more alternative acts - perhaps they would fit into 'Classic Lolita' music genre, if there was such a thing? XD They are a bit different from other artists in the fact they harmonise rather than all sing at the same pitch - Hikaru has the deeper, alto voice and it all sounds lovely together - I guess it all comes with the classically inspired genre.

Luna Haruna

Luna Haruna first learned of Gothic Lolita when she was in her first year of junior high school and began collecting Western and Lolita style clothes. She starting singing full time in 2011 and released her first single in 2012. Both singles to date have been used in anime; Fate/Zero and Sword Art Online. She actually only has three songs available at the moment, available to listen to on YouTube and buy as her two singles but I hope she makes more stuff! She has a really cute Lolita fashion style, like a classic doll and her music is nice to listen to. Sometimes Japanese singers/styles all sound very similar but so far that hasn't happened with Luna. I don't think I can like a band/singer unless there's something different about them - when people recommend me artists and say 'They sound like Offspring', for example, I think 'So why don't I just listen to Offspring?'. Chances are Offspring are famous/more well known for being the best at what they do so any act that is 'similar' to them probably isn't as good. This is how I feel about most music but Luna does have something different about her so I would recommend her to you! Because her style is sort of Classic, I think many Lolitas will enjoy her.

Collection D'Arnell Andrea

One for my Gothier brethrin, I discovered Collection D'Arnell Andrea after realising ALI PROJECT were classed as 'Neoclassical Darkwave'. There's actually a whole page on Wikipedia dedicated to neoclassical darkwave acts so I decided to check them out, one by one in the hope of more acts like Ali Pro. To be honest, most of the artists were a bit 'uber-Goth' for my tastes - either ridiculously symphonic and operatic like Within Temptation or Nightwish, or super heavy and metal sounding. I had also just finished watching Ginger Snaps and have sort of fell in love with the movie; I really like the opening death scenes and the music playing so just before I gave up hope on 'neoclassic darkwave'  I checked out Collection D'Arnell Andrea. They're very much like the opening song of Ginger Snaps; classic influences (the 'neoclassical' part) with synthesised beats in the gothic Darkwave music style (add one and one together, what do you get?!) so they're very dark and addictive. I can imagine them being played at 80s and 90s Gothic clubs and being shoegazed to, or played in the background of a Gothic Lolita tea party so if you like gothier music without being too overbearing, check out Collection!

Eri Kitamura

Eri Kitamura is a well-travelled voice actress and singer. She's also a part time manga artist in her spare time - how does she do it all?! She has voiced roles in anime such as Zatch Bell and Blood+. She has a really cute punky/gothy Lolita influence in the clothing she wears in her music videos. Her music is okay, it doesn't really stand out to me but I will listen to it some more before making a full decision on it. Her fashion is cuter to me but you may like her. I can't say much else other than let you know about her. XD 

Yousei Teikoku

Yousei Teikoku is a four piece unit; their name means 'Fairy Empire' which is a good sign straight off the bat. They're another one of these bands with a fantastical concept/story behind them. From their Wiki page: 'Through music, Yousei Teikoku is attempting to revive the Fairy Empire that exists between the human world and the spiritual realm known as Spiritual (super creative naming going on here). The purpose of their music is 'to make humans remember the pure heart inside them that believes in fairies, forgotten before we knew it.' D'aww. Yui is the one you see most often in their music videos; she's the singer and lyricist. Takaha Tachibana is the guitar, keyboard, composition and lyric writing element too - he's also worked with Kukui in the past so it all ties in! From 2010 Nanami and Relu were added as bassist and drummer. Their music has a dark, ambient feel, with electro/EBM elements, neoclassical, darkwave and ethereal inspiration all tied into their basic Gothic Rock/Metal style. All of that really hits the spot for me at the moment! They've done theme songs for anime including 'Mirai Nikki', 'Magical Pokan' and 'Innocent Venus', all very fantastical sounding. Three of their albums are named 'Gothic Lolita Doctrine', 'Gothic Lolita Agitator' and 'Gothic Lolita Propaganda', respectively so they definitely have a Lolita feel to me, albeit a 'Princess of the Dark' one.

It's been really fun (but also time consuming so sorry for the delay!) trying new music out and finding musicians inspired by Lolita elements! Right now I really love Kalafina and The Royal Dead so I hope you enjoy this little compilation! Thanks for reading! <3

Saturday, 10 August 2013

My Experience Buying From Taobao Overseas

So about a month or earlier, Taobao announced they'd made some changes to help overseas buyers buy from Taobao easier. It went around the Lolita community like Chinese whispers but as far as I'm aware, no one really knew what changes they'd made or dared to try and buy from Taobao themselves. Here was my chance, I thought! I laugh in the face of country barriers - I want to buy from all over with no limitations and no fear. I had just ran out of white crochet lace I bought on my last lace order from Taobao so here was my chance to place a small lace order myself and *hopefully* run into no problems in doing so. Here is that long, merry little tale with a few imaginative expletives thrown in as I realised what I had done. I will make a real, finished 'How to buy from Taobao from overseas' post after this escapade has been recorded.


So first off, when you go to Taobao, you are met with 'Buyer's Quick Start Guide' in English on the right hand side of the website. Even more optimistically, once clicked, you're given 'Quickstart guide for overseas buyers' - hurrah!


After that you're presented with a rather detailed and fast paced flash slideshow which is hard to screenshot, so I won't even try. Each part of placing an order is categorised, making it easy to digest and take in. 'This will be easy!', I thought. According to the quick start guide, all you have to do is: Register > Choose items (and check sellers and feedback) > Sort out 'Logistics and Delivery', the main thing limiting overseas buyers > Order Confirmation and Payment > Receive Your Order and Leave Feedback, yay! I read through the guide 2-3 times to make sure I understood everything (which I didn't, more on that later).


The first part you have to do is register with Taobao. Their quickstart guide makes this relatively easy to complete. However, they mention an 'SMS verification', which is a code sent to your phone by SMS text message, which you then input into the registration but I wasn't presented with this at all during my registration. It's probably only for Chinese buyers or other Oriental countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc.

After registering, they recommend you check out products you want to buy and then check out the sellers and their feedback for safety. This is relatively commonplace and explained in the guide so I'll skip this part.


After registering and checking out sellers, it gives you the option of downloading Ali Wangwang, China's version of MSN Live/instant messaging service. With this, you can communicate with sellers easily and even ask them if they ship internationally. However, I learned the hard way that the smaller, more independent sellers don't speak English (more fool me, thinking that the majority of China speak English) and that they are terrified of sending products overseas as they have no idea how to do it.


No matter, however! According to the quickstart guide, 'you may send the product to the warehouse of a third party cross-border freight service provider'. Excellent! So Taobao have changed their settings and collaborated with 'third party cross-border freight service providers' to allow you to send your orders to their 'warehouses' if the sellers don't ship overseas. I was led to believe these 'cross border freight service providers' would then send your products to you once they had arrived at their warehouses, like Taobao had made their own shopping/forwarding service to save you the hassle.

With that knowledge safely tucked under my bloomers, I merrily skipped along, found a lace store that had lots of pretty lace and placed an order of around £20 with them. Upon checkout I was presented with a number of 'third party cross-border freight service providers' I could send my order to. I picked the first one given to me, which was located in Beijing, because I believed they had sorted the results as to show you providers closest to the seller. I then went along and entered my payment details - I signed up to Alipay, who are owned by Alibaba.com and are like China's version of Paypal; they are the safest and most widely accepted form of online payment on the Chinese part of the Internet. As told in the quickstart guide, Alipay can accept pre-loaded cards with money on as payment, bank transfer orders if you have a Chinese bank account or regular credit/debit card details. The credit/debit cards don't even have to be owned by a Chinese bank, therefore overseas buyers can use this payment method. I entered my debit card details and was met with a successfully placed payment method and order page.

I was so happy at this point. I had dreams of placing Taobao orders at will, as frequently as I place eBay and Amazon orders, and have this whole new expanse of cute foreign and cheap items at my disposal. At this point I believed I just had to wait for the order to arrive at the 'warehouse', they would contact me and I'd give the information and payment for them to ship the order over to me in the UK.

After a few days I wondered if the lace had reached the 'warehouse'. I didn't know how they were going to contact me but my name and mobile number were on the warehouse address and order information so I wondered if they could contact me by email or over my Taobao account.

A few more days passed and I began to worry. A 'warehouse' isn't going to keep storing your order forever and I didn't want my lace order to just be tossed after a few days. I checked the order details again, and then to be sure, the 'quickstart guide' when I noticed this detail I had somehow managed to miss:



OH HOLY JESUS FUCK NO. 'Appoint a cross-border courier to collect the product and deliver it overseas'? So I had to now find a courier in China, bearing in mind I don't speak, read or write Chinese at all (all throughout this I had used Google Translate to translate whole webpages and snippets/form titles to fill in details with ease) to collect my order and post it to me? Why not just use a FUCKING SHOPPING SERVICE? They added a whole other unnecessary step to the order! Even a shopping service cuts out the whole 'send it to a warehouse, then collect it to post overseas' step! It was the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard and I was almost certain I wasn't going to be able to get my package at this point.

I wondered if I could perhaps contact the 'warehouse' and ask them to send the package overseas themselves, rather than get someone else to collect it and send it to me. I copied & pasted their address into Google and found Shouhuobao.com, a courier service in China that had the 'warehouse' listed as one of the places they could collect parcels from. Want to know why I've been using quotation marks in 'warehouse' all this time? It also had a photo of the 'warehouse':



IT'S A FUCKING SUPERMARKET. A TINY SUPERMARKET IN THE MIDDLE OF BEIJING. Oh my lord. Of course, being a small, independantly ran SUPERMARKET, they didn't have a website, only a phone number and I'm definitely not forking out for international phone calls only for them to not speak English anyway. I searched on the Shouhuobao website and originally thought that they can pick up your item and ship it to you. I arranged for them to pick it up, then read a little more into the website. It turns out it's only for mainland China and you can either A) Get Shouhuobao to pick up your item and take it to a collection point near where you live, then you can pick it up from there (on your lunch break, whilst shopping, etc.) or B) Arrange for them to ship it to you but you have to pay for the shipping yourself and fill out a form you get at the postal service, which I obviously can't do because I can't get to the postal service or read/write Chinese. After a mild panic, I quickly cancelled the collection appointment and headed onto the next step to sort out this skullfuckery.

Finding a Chinese courier to ship packages to the UK was a daunting task but Alibaba actually had a lot of people advertising their services from China to the UK with minimum package limits and prices. I found a couple of couriers with a minimum package weight of 0.5kg and emailed the first one that looked good, flying-trans.com.

Mr Robin Gui emailed the next day and said they could collect my package and ship it to me, no problem! *choir of angels sing* They could collect and ship my package to me via FedEx for $28 or more, depending on the weight of the package when they actually got and weighed it. I gave them the address and phone number of the supermarket, Yimin Supermarket and waited for a response. They rang the supermarket and told me there was no package for me there. 0_0 So I contacted the lace supplier, in Chinese via Google Translate, to ask if they knew when the package was going to be delivered and whether they had a tracking number. They said it was going to be delivered in the next half an hour, which I'm curious to know how they knew! Apparently it was shipped FedEx and they track the package right down to the hour it will reach the addressee.

So the next day Gui rang up the supermarket again and confirmed the package was there. Then the supermarket asked for a password/parcel code so they knew it wasn't just some random person coming to collect the parcel. Wait, what? I had no knowledge of a parcel code or password. I found my order details and gave Gui my order confirmation number and another number that was attached to the supermarket's address and my name, and hoped that would do the trick. They rang again and it was neither of those codes. T_T Oh balls. I contacted the supplier and asked them about a parcel code/password. Apparently I needed to choose a password that I had to say when I came to collect the parcel, so they knew it was me/someone who knew me collecting it. They seemed confused that I hadn't been contacted about it and asked if I'd received an invitation to make a password via SMS. I said that I hadn't, probably because my mobile number is overseas. Then, sometimes absolutely amazing happened! Somehow the courier company, Mr. Gui and the lace supplier contacted each other and started working out the order together! *another round of angels singing* I'm not sure how they did it; I think both of them are based in Guandong and perhaps the supermarket sort of acted like a middle man and supplied the details to one of them?

So Gui said that they were both sorting out the package together and he would get in touch when it was sorted out! He said he didn't know why the package was sent all the way to Beijing as it would've been much easier to send it to the courier company's address and save all this hassle...heh heh... *shifty eyes* He emailed me the next day to say that they had sorted out the package and the company was going to collect the package in the morning! Once the package was collected and taken back to the company, which would take 1-2 days, they would weigh and package up the order properly and give me a true quote. The proper quote was $31.50 including a $1.50 Paypal fee I happily payed. After I paid, Mr. Gui sent the package via FedEx, supplied me with a tracking number and said it would reach me in 5-7 days. Mr. Gui, I want your babies.

Fast forward to 9th August, aka yesterday and my package arrived! \*0*/ One of the laces which I thought was white is off-white/ivory because Google Translate translates 'off white' as 'white' for some stupid reason! The literal translation was 'raw white' which obviously means unbleached. Another of the laces is a bit wider than I expected but in all honestly, I really don't give a rat shit. I'm just so happy this fuck up was sorted out and I got my package. I spoke to my Chinese friend Alison who used to be my shopping service and she said I was very lucky the supplier, courier and supermarket were so willing to work together, as the supplier could have easily turned around and said 'We've done our bit, we don't care if you don't get your order' so I am very thankful for the amazing customer service of the supplier and courier. The supplier actually went above and beyond, as shortly after I placed my order with them, I had apparently paid too much shipping and they refunded 19.40CNY (approximately £2) into my Alipay account! I can't send this amount to my bank, however, as you have to have a Chinese bank account/credit card but I'm hoping I can use it on future orders.

So, now that this is all sorted and I have had a chance to get my head around this, I can finally decide whether it is worth using a courier instead of a shopping service for ordering from Taobao. Without all of the headaches inbetween the courier getting my parcel and shipping it to me, it is easier and cheaper to send your parcel to a courier rather than a shopping service. Couriers don't charge any extra fees for buying your items, collecting/receiving the parcel or sending it out - they are only a courier service and make their money on the shipping fees. I don't even care if they put a little on top of the shipping fees for themselves; ignorance is bliss and you need to make your money somewhere. As opposed to a shopping service charging you commission on each item and store you buy, you can bypass all this by buying it yourself and sending it to a courier to send to you, especially when it is small, cheap items like lace, where the commission can be even more expensive than the lace itself.

So I will finish this post by saying if you read all this, well done and I hope it helped you a little. Would you like me to make a detailed post on how to register with Taobao, download Ali Wangwang, register with Alipay, pay for items, etc? As this isn't so much a 'how-to' on ordering from Taobao as it's a 'what not to do/read more carefully'. Now I will play with my pretty lace and place more orders in the future, hopefully without the stress I had with my first ever experience here! Thank you for reading, have a lovely day~ <3

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Reviewette: Origins GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturiser

After I tried Origins' Plantscription SPF25 Anti-Aging Cream, I moved onto their GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturiser. I had two samples of this so I squeezed it into a small airtight container and got 6-8 applications from it, woo!
productinfo
Brand: Origins
Name: GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturiser
Price: £23
Where to buy: Origins' own website, Boots (online and at any Origins counter), Sephora

According to their website, this cream instantly hydrates and 'revs up radiance' and is fortified with 'legendary skin boosters like Panax Ginseng and Coffee Bean'...so it's got ginseng and caffeine in it? Way to shout about nothing, I love when brands slap adverbs and pseudoscientific terms in front of regular ingredients or, even better, vague made up terms like 'skin boosting complex'. I might seem cynical but I hardly ever see Asian brands use those terms unless they have quaint Western ideals for their brand.
packaging
P1030500_zpseff12c3b
The packaging for the GinZing cream is nicer than the Plantscription one. It's bright orange with a matte effect and seems very 'awake' so it suits the ideals. The full sized product looks like this:
GinZing™
Again, better than the Plantscription one. It's not particularly cute but it's quite energetic and cool.
application
P1040508_zpscb053fbd
This cream is lighter than the Plantscription one, and most of my other creams actually. It's almost like a very thick essence. It glides on nicely, absorbs well and doesn't leave a greasy or sticky residue. Even though the feeling on my skin is quite light, it doesn't deliver any less hydration than my other creams. The cream is translucent white, giving it a look between gel and cream. I got to use this cream for a few days and it didn't make my skin dry, give me dry patches or flakes, etc. My skin felt as plump and nice as using any other creams my skin agrees with.
scent
The smell of this cream is actually really nice. It smells like oranges with a hint of chocolate, which I think is a bit weird but yummy. XD Maybe it's the caffeine? I asked my boyfriend if it smelt like chocolate oranges to him and he said 'a little'. However, the smell isn't as nice as my Be The Skin products - there's a hint of artificial-ness to the scent compared to the Be The Skin ones.
mythoughts
This cream did well in hydrating my skin and making it feel plump, nourished, etc. but it didn't give me any extra energy or wake me up whilst applying but I would've been silly to think it would have. I also find it interesting that this cream is half the price of the Plantscription one and I like it better. It seems like it'd be good for all skin types but I can get similar or better results with other, cheaper creams; this does nothing special. I want to give it 3/5 stars but I disliked the Plantscription one more (and gave it the same rating) so I'll have to give this 4/5 stars even though I wouldn't buy it.