Thursday, September 16, 2010

Where and How to Buy Dolly Kei Online

The biggest piece of news in the dolly kei world lately is that Grimoire, the pioneer dolly style kei in Japan, has opened a web shop. This online shop sells vintage dresses, tops, skirts, and even accessories like shoes and bags. Here are a few examples of the vintage clothes Grimoire offers:
The web shop also sells pieces from Dolly, Hitomi Nomura's line of accessories that started it all in 2007.
Yes, that is a fork necklace on the left. For those interested, the store blog has updates and photos of new pieces as they are added to the store.

All this excitement aside, I think now is a good time to remind everyone that dolly kei is almost entirely built around vintage clothes from western countries. The vintage brands that wearers of dolly style treasure most-- Gunne Sax, for example-- are not Japanese. According to the blog, Grimoire buys almost all of its stock online or in shopping trips to western thrift stores, flea markets, and antique sales.

If you're already familiar with the gauntlet of shopping services, custom fees, and rising shipping costs that come with buying clothes from Japan, the idea that dolly kei comes directly from the West can be very appealing. It could mean that all the tools you need to complete an outfit are in your own backyard. Re-importing clothes that were originally bought here is a little much even for me-- not that I don't support Grimoire and hope the store does well. I just think that, though it does take international orders through email, the web shop is mainly intended for the convenience of Japanese buyers who must find it troublesome to buy clothes from western countries.

So while I'm naturally excited about the opening of the Grimoire web shop and I see this as a big step forward in dolly kei, I don't plan to purchase many items from it. All the shopping resources I need are local thrift stores and websites like eBay and Etsy. Some of my favorite Etsy shops do stock 50-70's vintage fashion at reasonable prices, so here are a six of my favorites. I've picked out some examples of their clothes that would work with dolly fashion-- all priced less than $50.

Bohemian Bisoux
This skirt definitely embodies the elements of dolly kei: it's antique-looking, a bit ethnic, and it has a mysterious folklore feel to it. Can you imagine the skirt with a peasant top, vest, and fur stole? Best of all, the price is only $45.

Astral Boutique
This dress is a genuine Gunne Sax, which is easily the most popular brand in dolly kei. You can see how perfect this dress would be in an autumn dolly fashion coordinate-- just add a fringed shawl and a tooled leather shoulder bag and you're ready to go. The price is $44.

Hellcat Vintage
Though the vintage brand Young Edwardian is less famous than Gunne Sax, it's my favorite. This Young Edwardian dress features exquisite design details like a velveteen bodice and embroidered appliques. Priced at only $42, this dress is a vintage treasure.

Calico Vintage
The Gunne Sax series of "Black Label" dresses is particularly coveted because, as seen here, the design evokes the idea of the medieval princess gown. Medieval romance is a large part of the dolly kei aesthetic, so this dress would be the ideal foundation for a coordinate. Add jewelry, a 70's tapestry shoulder bag, and some high-heeled clogs for the complete look. This dress is on sale for $40.

Moonchild Vintage
This quilted 70's vest has that striking ethnic look that so many dolly kei wearers treasure. Add it to a black calico dress with boots and a vintage fedora and your dolly outfit is perfect. This vest is selling for $28.

Madgirl Vintage
This vintage paisley print dress is the perfect length for showing off a unique pair of tights and vintage shoes. Finish off the coordinate with a crocheted scarf and leather belt for the complete dolly kei look. This dress is priced at $32.

These are only a few of the amazing examples of vintage fashion I found on Etsy. Many more can be found there by the intrepid online shopper, not to mention on other sites for online thrift like eBay.


  1. Those are some lovely items you've picked out! I like the calico vintage dress but then again I like anything that's black. ^_^;;

    And you make some really good points. It's great that fans of Dolly Kei can just go to their local flea market or thirft store instead of having to go through five million different hoops just to get a skirt. I imagine it would make it much easier to get into the fashion as opposed to some other j-fashions. ^_^

  2. Courtney: You and me both! Black clothes <3
    And thanks! I agree... I suppose people in search of dolly fashion can go through the hoops if they really want to, but why? haha

    Kelsey: Yep! And this is only scratching the surface. Etsy and eBay are like vintage goldmines XD

  3. It's exciting to know about Grimoire's new webshop, and I had considered trying to buy someting from them, but you're right, why try and buy from them, pay service fees and shipping from across the world, when they originally got the clothes from the West in the first place!

    I was looking around etsy for Gunne Sax pieces and whatnot, and it was hard resisting to buy things, I saw so much great stuff!

    I also want to go on an extreme thrift shopping excursion, and hopefully I get lucky and find things for good prices! I'm loving that Hellcat Vintage dress by the way *_*

    And on top of that, I want to try my hand at sewing some of my own pieces to fit into the Dolly Kei aesthetic, most of the pieces are simple rectangle skirts and yoke dresses anyway!

  4. Exactly :33 Here in the USA, we're spoiled by all the resources for vintage fashion at our fingertips. This is one of the first times since I became interested in Japanese fashion that I've felt lucky to be where I am. haha

    I would love to see you sew something for dolly fashion, Aria! Your work is always beautiful ;o;

  5. OMG this post just rocked my world. xD THANK YOU!
    I was looking for great Etsy sellers. Up until now Ive just been searching for like "boho" or "nomad" or "gypsy" or "ethnic." But these are great esp AstralVintage.

    I wish Gunne Sax had bigger sizing though. I feel so big at size 8 US... @___@;

  6. No problem! I'm so glad you liked it :33
    I wish that too... I've seen only a couple of GS pieces that I would fit in as well >m<;;