If you checked the Japanese version of Arlequin Magazine recently you might have seen something has been going on there. Instead of articles being published by me, the name connected to these articles is “Aya”.
But who is Aya exactly? And why is she suddenly appearing on the Japanese part of Arlequin Magazine? Well, the short version is that she offered to translate a few articles for me. We started talking, and she told me something that I would love to share with all of you (with her permission, of course!): After moving from Japan to France she opened her very own lolita shop “Trip in the dream” with the intention to connect fans, brands and creators of lolita from all over the world through fashion.
You might have noticed through interviews I have done with MIKARU andまゆ (Mayu) (from DaizyStripper) that my interest isn’t limited to just music. With まゆ (Mayu) in particular I could talk about fashion and his perspective through Mr.SunFace.
But fashion has always been a huge part of ヴィジュアル系 (visual kei) as well. Most people will recognize or remember a band or artist due to the outfit they wear. And especially at conventions and shows here in The Netherlands I have seen people who have a very specific fashion preference, be it lolita or a different style. It’s a way to express yourself and “just be you”.
Because of all these reasons I wanted to ask Aya a little more about her shop, and share her answers with you! If you like lolita fashion or know someone who does, please check out her shop and share the information with others. Who knows, she might be able to help you find that one item you really wanted! Plus, there is a special discount code for the first 20 people who manage to grab it at the very end too!
So without further ado…
I already sort of introduced you in the introduction to this article, but can you introduce yourself to the readers as well?
Aya: I’m Aya, and everyone can call me that too. I think it’s a pretty easy name to use and remember here in Europe. Thank you, parents!
How did you learn about lolita fashion?
Aya: I first learned about lolita fashion when I was a teenager in Japan. From magazines like KERA or Gothic Lolita Bible. At that time I was wearing punk rock style myself because I didn’t think lolita fashion suited me at all, it looked way too sweet. Even the gothic lolita does! And when I enrolled in university I didn’t think I could participate in such fashion anymore due to my age. But then I arrived in France, and I quickly noticed how free people are in their fashion choices here in Europe. This motivated me to try the lolita style for myself, since people don’t judge me because of my age.
But why lolita? Since there are so many kinds of fashion. What made lolita the one you wanted to work with?
Aya: Among all the alternative fashion styles lolita has the “widest” world in my opinion. Depending on the person who wears the dress, the final result can be completely different from person to person. It interests me a lot, and to me it is a kind of art that is created in a different way by every single lolita. I wanted to take part in helping them create their art.
Trip in the dream
Please tell me about the shop itself. Why did you choose the name “Trip in the dream”? And what can people expect from your shop?
Aya: When I was searching for a shop name I wanted something original, something that people would be able to pronounce and remember easily. So I thought “what would the clothes and accessories be for lolita people?” and “what situation would they be in if they find exactly what they were looking for?”. Based on those two questions I found this name, “Trip in the dream”.
As for what I do, the short version is that I contact brands and creators with the intention to collaborate with them and sell their items in my shop.
What made you decide to start a lolita fashion shop here in Europe? Have you done something like this in Japan as well before you came here?
Aya: Actually, it was more of an accident. I wrote my thesis about lolita for graduate school, since I was a major in Anthropology (human studies) and I needed to do field work during my research. I joined the local lolita community as an interpreter and manager between Japanese lolita brands and creators. We had some leftover items that weren’t sold after an event and I started my shop with them. I have never done anything like this in Japan.
So the leftover items were the start of your shop here. What made you decide to expand from there?
Aya: I realized that there are a lot of lolita who have problems with getting the items they actually want. Some of those problems were the language barrier, custom fees, or the shipping systems on Japanese websites weren’t helpful at all. So I figured I could help them with my shop. It’s a very rewarding process for me, and that’s why I started to expand my shop.
Where can people find your shop? Is there a physical building they can visit, or is it only online?
Aya: For now the shop is only online. But I try to provide in more ways than just the website. I have been to some conventions in France and other countries in Europe already, and there was a small pop-up shop where people could try the items before buying them as well. It’s good to be able to communicate with people who are lolitas themselves, but it is a little complicated to have to explain the difference between cosplay and a fashion style like this to people who have no clue about what is what too. It is my dream to open a physical shop in the future, but to be able to do that I would need more support from the European lolita! 😉
Additionally I also post videos on YouTube and photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to spread the word about new items and the shop as a whole to a wider audience.
You have an online shop here in Europe now, but why make that step rather than just providing a shopping service?
Aya: If I would be living in Japan still a shopping service might be the best idea. But since I am in France I would need the help of someone who still has a Japanese address now. Plus, with my shop I can show the items from small creators that people might not find by themselves as well. Both of these reasons are why my own shop would be the better option for me.
The contents of the closet
Let’s talk a bit about the items in your shop. Like, are all items listed brand new, or are there also items at a discounted price because they have been used before for example?
Aya: Most of the items that I’m selling are brand new (never worn). But there are some items that have been used in an event (like a fashion show), and in that case I mention this on the item listing and they are sold at a discounted price.
Lolita fashion sadly isn’t the most cheap hobby out there (a lot of the price the items are sold for comes from production costs, because it’s a very detailed fashion). Something that often scares off people interested in trying the fashion for the first time to see if it’s for them or not. Can these interested people rent items from you as well? Like for example for a special event?
Aya: I have rented items to different events in the past already, and if these items weren’t sold during the event I would sell them in my shop at a discounted price (because it is now a used item). If you’d like to rent an item I would need to know what you want to do with the items (wear it for an event for example) and we can discuss further from there.
Assume I’m not very familiar with brands within the lolita fashion community (except for some really famous ones like ATLIER PIERROT for example). Do you only work with familiar brands, or also with small brands or one-time creators? Please tell me about the items in your shop as a whole.
Aya: The items in my shop are both from large brands and small time creators. The stock is very much based on my own interests, not so much about the size of the brand. If I find an item I like, I will try to get them for my shop. Regardless of the item being from a large established brand or a small time creator. After all, I am the first customer of my own shop, haha.
I like every brand I collaborate with, especially Atelier17 and ATELIER PIERROT. I’m a fan of their work so I ask them for items that I would love to wear myself as well. My personal preferences are mostly in the gothic lolita and classic lolita styles, but because of the “stay home” mentality due to the pandemic I started to find casual lolita to be very comfortable as well.
What about the price range? Are your items listed for the same prices as they would be in the original shops in Asia, or are they more expensive due to shipping and customs fees here in Europe?
Aya: The prices are a little higher than they are on the original webshops, especially with brands from Asia. This is, like you already said, because of all kinds of fees. But they’re still cheaper than when you’d import them from Japan yourself through a shopping service. For European brands the price is the same at both my shop and the original brand’s shop.
Speaking about shopping service, if people see an item they really like at a Japanese shop, can they contact you for help with ordering the item?
Aya: If the item is from a brand I collaborate with already than normally yes. If it’s something from a brand I am not collaborating with already I need detailed information about the item(s) and have to ask for some commission for my service but yes, it’s still possible.
If you want to make use of this you can contact me through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or send me an email.
In your shop people can find clothing and accessories already, but are you planning on adding other items (like home decor for example) in the future too?
Aya: At the moment I am not thinking about expanding my shop with items other than clothing and accessories, but with the current pandemic we have a lot of time we have to spend at home. It would be interesting to think about some home decor specific for the lolita style.
Who exactly are the items in your shop for? Are they for everyone who likes the style? And what about male lolita, since we haven’t talked about those yet, but they are out there!
Aya: There is no age range I’m trying to aim for. If you like the style age doesn’t matter, the items are suitable for everyone regardless of age.
I unfortunately don’t have any special items that are specifically targeted towards male lolita (like clothing that is made especially for them), but I do have some dresses that are plus size friendly, and I had some male lolita customers who have bought items from my shop already! So I’d say it’s definitely possible for male lolita to find items here as well!
Especially with Asian brands the problem for non-Asian customers is usually the size. You just mentioned that your shop has some plus size items, but do these usually fit European or American customers comfortably?
Aya: This is the most difficult part indeed. I have some Japanese brands that are “plus size friendly”, but it’s very difficult to give information to customers about the sizes. This is due to the rules of “morphology”, which basically means that the same cut would look completely different on you than it would on a mannequin or a model. This is why I tried to give customers the opportunity to try on items first through my pop-up shop, but this unfortunately isn’t currently possible due to the pandemic.
From France to your doorstep
Not entirely unimportant, but… Who can order from your shop? Just from Europe, or from the US as well for example?
Aya: People from anywhere in the world can place an order at the shop. I shop worldwide. In fact, I’ve had some orders from the US already!
Then how about shipping? Is there a set rate, or is it based on weight and the country it will be sent to from France?
Aya: For now shipping costs are based on location and weight, but if I get more orders I might be able to change to a set rate for shipping anywhere in the world, hopefully!
And what about payment? What options do people have?
Aya: At the moment I can only accept payment through PayPal, I’m not fully sure about bank transfer because of fees but I can try! And unfortunately credit card is not possible right now, but I hope to be able to accept credit card payments in the future as well!
Expanding the closet
If readers know about any brands you aren’t working with yet but they are interested in, or someone who owns or closely works with a brand is interested in collaborating with you, how would that work? Are there any criteria they have to follow to collaborate with you?
Aya: My goal is to discover brands that are new to the other side (like Asian brands for the Western audience and vice versa), so there are no criteria to start a partnership. Except maybe that brands shouldn’t be strict about my sales, haha.
As for brands themselves, they can contact me directly through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) or email to introduce themselves and their works. I personally like the gothic lolita and classic lolita styles, but I don’t have all that many clothes and accessories in the sweet lolita style. Mostly because I don’t know what items would be good to sell. What would you be interested in?
If the readers have any recommendations, I would be very grateful if you’d share them with me too!
~ Special discount
Like mentioned earlier, there is a special discount code for the first 20 people who use it at Aya’s shop.
Use code “TD10ARPH” at checkout for 10% off* your order!
* Discount code doesn’t work on items from Atelier17.
* Discount code doesn’t cover shipping, it provides a discount on the items themselves.
~ We’d like to hear from you!
Both Aya and myself would like to hear from you, but for different reasons…
Aya: If you have any brand recommendations (aka brands that you would like to see at the shop), please let us know through the comment section here, Arlequin Magazine’s social media accounts or my social media (see links list below)!
雪 (Yuki): I’m very interested in hearing what you think about this article. Did you find it interesting or useful? Would you like to see more articles like this on the website? Let me know! Comment section below of course works, but social media works too (you can find these in the footer/very bottom of every page on Arlequin Magazine!).
Find Aya and her shop around the web
雪 (Yuki) is the owner and driving force behind Arlequin Magazine & Photography.
She started in 2009 as a photographer with Arlequin Photography, but due to a growing interest in journalism, translation and behind-the-scenes work in general the project burst out of it's seams in 2021 and expanded through the addition of Arlequin Magazine.
雪 (Yuki) is a native Dutch speaker and maintains both the English and Dutch sections of both Magazine and Photography with original content, translations and photography as well as all the behind-the-scenes work for both websites.
She speaks Dutch, English, Japanese and German.