Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Basic Guide to Taobao

This post is an introduction to Taobao, specifically for those in the Lolita subculture; it contains an explanation of the online marketplace, as well as how to shop from it, resellers, and a list of Lolita-specific shops to explore. This list is most certainly not comprehensive; if you have any brands to add to the list, or things you believe should be further explained, please either contact me on my tumblr or leave a comment below!

What is Taobao?

Taobao is, simply put, a Chinese eBay! Taobao stores can sell just about anything, just as you’d expect on any digital marketplace. On Taobao, there is a healthy number of Lolita brands that you are able to purchase from. The purpose of this document is to help explain how to buy items from Taobao stores, and how to keep an eye out for new items coming out.

How do I order from Taobao?

Most Taobao stores do not ship outside of China. Because of this, you need to use a Shopping Service or a Reseller to order from them. These are services that will forward the package from the Taobao shop to you. There are plenty of Taobao Shopping Services. Most people will shop around until they find a service that they like! Below are a few links to potential Shopping Services and resellers.
  • ClobbaOnline (Pros: Knowledgeable staff, very good English; Cons: expensive)
  • Qutieland (Pros: Easy to use Cart System, decent English; Cons: Can have a long wait time, expensive)
  • TaobaoSpree (Pros: Decent English, cheaper fee, fast communication; Cons: Somewhat complicated ordering form)
  • TaobaoNow (Pros: Decent English, cheaper fee; Cons: Complicated ordering form)
  • TaobaoTrends (Pros: Decent English, reasonable fee, quick communication; Cons: Fussy shopping cart system (doesn’t always show available options; does have comment section).)
AN IMPORTANT NOTE: Always look up off-site reviews when trying a new Taobao Shopping Service! Don’t trust reviews on their site, because you aren’t entirely sure of the authenticity of the author. Look for reviews from Tumblr, Livejournal, Blogspot, etc. to get an idea of what you can expect from your Shopping Service.

Do you always need a Shopping Service to order from Taobao?

Not always! A few shops have the option of emailing them in order to directly buy from them, and skip the Shopping Service middleman! This does not include every shop, so keep that in mind.
  • 69th Department: 69th.dept@gmail.com
  • An*Tai*Na: missyoyo0510@gmail.com
  • CEL Crusade Evangelical Lutheran: shiyapang@gmail.com
  • HMHM: bunny11111@gmail.com
  • Infanta: lemon0_0sha@hotmail.com
  • Ista Mori: http://istamori.storenvy.com/
  • Laurence: laurence_0@163.com
  • Long Ears & Sharp Ears Studios: LnSears_overseas@outlook.com
  • R-Series: homemiro@hotmail.com

How do I know what’s coming out?

There are a few blogs on Tumblr (such as yetanotherjfashionblog) that follow Taobao releases. Following or keeping up with these blogs is a good way to see prints and releases as they’re announced, as well as finding out crucial details such as sizing, cost, etc.

So where do I start shopping?

Taobao has an extensive list of shops that specialize in Lolita! Here's a list to get you started.

NOTE: Plus-size friendly brands (most of which allow custom sizing) are marked with a (+).

(Keep in mind that some Taobao shops will be unable to do plus size options for all of their releases.)

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