17 Nov 2017

Miel Magazine Review



If you follow any of the Lolita Updates, you probably know by now that there’s another Lolita and kawaii fashion focused magazine on the Japanese market called Miel. It was officially released this Monday, November 13th, and I got my hands on a copy, so let’s see what it’s like!



I ordered my copy via Amazon Japan and was able to ship it directly to my home in the UK. The magazine cost worked out at £10.38 on the day, plus £7.62 for postage and £3.60 for prepaying any import duties. Whilst it probably would’ve been cheaper to go via Tenso or a shopping service, unless you already have an order going, there’s not much point in doing that for one magazine, so a total of £21.60 with direct overseas shipping with DHL is very reasonable. I preordered my copy on November 7th, it was shipped promptly on release day and arrived mere two days later on Wednesday November 15th, so I’m very happy with that! Whilst navigating Amazon Japan may require some knowledge of Japanese or a good translation software and not every shop will be able to ship outside of Japan, it’s certainly worth trying if you feel like you might want to order just one or two things.
  
Can you buy a J-fashion magazine that doesn't feature
Risa Nakamura these days? She makes things sell with that
pout!
Click to enlarge.

The first issue of Miel comes with a Q-Pot chocolate bar pouch, which is a nice freebie that will definitely get some use here. It will be good for carrying small accessories when travelling or even just going out. The material reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is – I want to say a 1990s windrunner jacket, but still not quite. The whole pouch is actually rather thick, as if slightly stuffed, so should protect its contents well and it has a sewn in divider in the middle.

Magazine is just about standard A4, the pouch is slightly
smaller than A5.
Click to enlarge.

Now, onto the magazine itself. The first thing I noticed about Miel is that it’s a thinner magazine. The paper is of really nice quality and quite thick, comparable to other Lolita magazines, so the thinner feel must mean less content. To spare you the anticipation: there’s no event reports. And there are fewer pages with outfit snaps, although few are still there.
  
Only one page of actual street snaps.
Click to enlarge.
 
In essence, what you get in Miel is what you get in Melt or what you did in GLB or KERA, just less of it. The magazine consists primarily of previews for upcoming releases from various brands, a couple of pages with hair tutorials and a few miscellaneous bits. While the previews are still focused on kawaii fashion in very broad terms, I enjoyed how they categorised it further into four sections: Lolita brands, Girly fashion brands, Classical fashion brands and, the smallest of them all, Kimono. That last one was particularly refreshing to see. Traditional kimono worn in a traditional way is in decline, yet there are various movements in and outside of Japan aiming to revive the garment through modern styling or reusing it as fabric to create something new. While Miel doesn’t go that far, the fact that it included a small selection of kimonos shows that they can be part of kawaii fashion, that they are still very much relevant as clothing pieces in contemporary Japan and hopefully will inspire people to wear kimono more.

Some modern takes on kimono (Miel also includes Edo-period styling).
Click to enlarge.
 
As for the other preview sections, you get what you’d expect: some bits that were already released and some still upcoming, brands varying from the more to slightly less popular, showcased in aesthetically beautiful photoshoots. What doesn’t really feature there is any Gothic clothing, Lolita or otherwise. The few darker pieces that are there fit better within dark Victorian or dark Classic styling, so if you’re a devout Goth (or, for that matter, Visual Kei) and nothing else will do for you, you won’t find much for yourself in Miel.

Girly brand collection.
Click to enlarge.

There isn’t much to say about the hair tutorials or the outfit snaps, these are pretty standard and as you’d expect, with the added bonus that one page of these features Miel’s models posing with the freebie Q-Pot pouch to show how they styled and used it. It’s a nice touch, but neither ground-breaking nor that necessary since the pouch is an accessory that’s more difficult to just wear, it’s more of a throw-it-in-the-bag kind of thing.

How would YOU wear the pouch? Do you even know how to shamelessly
plug a product?
Click to enlarge.
 
However, I’m quite impressed with the miscellaneous content. Whilst altogether they only take up about eight pages, really little especially in comparison to how much all the previews take, they have been very well curated and thought out. There’s a full two-page interview with Q-Pot’s designer, Tadaaki Wakamatsu, and actress and singer, Sayaka Kanda, (Japanese voice of Anna from Frozen, if you’re interested) framed by a gorgeous photoshoot using Q-Pot’s accessories. It’s pretty to look at and interesting to read, if you can read Japanese, as they both talked about what kawaii means to them and things that people who are into kawaii fashion or lifestyle often hear (that it’s not a boys’ thing or that it’s childish after a certain age). I said before that I’d love for magazines to include more interviews, so of course I’m pleased to see this happening, but even if I wasn’t asking for more stuff like this, that was a nice interview to read.

Having read the interview and looked at the photos, I'd love to meet Tadaaki
Wakamatsu, he seems like a very quirky, fun person.
Click to enlarge.

The other bit of miscellanea is all about afternoon tea. And when I say: it’s all about afternoon tea, the ‘all’ isn’t just a figure of speech. Instead of just getting recommendations for nice afternoon tea places around Japan, Miel editors created a two-page spread on how to enjoy afternoon tea correctly: how to sit, eat, drink or place your napkin, created with the help of Mrs Minako Imada, who is an etiquette tutor and author of numerous books on etiquette, food and general high-class lifestyle (especially in terms of behaviour). From a Western perspective, especially one of a UK-based Westerner, this is really interesting that Miel has included that. Afternoon tea is something that we often take a little for granted and feel like it should be obvious how to behave, but also not to worry if you mess up a little – bus as Lolitas we can fixate on doing the Japanese things absolutely correctly down to the most miniscule detail (e.g. wearing kimono or the ‘Lolita rules’). Yet here we have an example of the Japanese doing the same in reverse: they are often happy that people outside Japan enjoy their culture and fashion, forgiving us most mistakes when it comes to the rigorous Japanese fashion rules, yet follow the strictest guidelines on something like having an afternoon tea. Granted, afternoon tea in the West has become a lot less of a luxury, upper class activity and became more casual so that anyone can enjoy it – nonetheless it’s rooted in behaviours and lifestyle of the crème de la crème of the society, the wealthy and the well born, and thus there are plenty of savoir vivre rules that do apply to it. It’s very, very interesting and different to a simple list of places a kawaii fashion enthusiast should visit to eat something nice.

This, in my opinion, is the best part of Miel - and probably the most Lolita
lifestyle-like of everything in the whole magazine! Great to see something
different.
NB, Imada-sensei says to not cut scones with a knife, but twist them open and to
put clotted cream on first then jam. Just adding to the eternal scone debate. :P
Click to enlarge.
 
Overall I think Miel has a lot of potential and has done a few things in an interesting or different way, but there’s definite room for improvement – and that’s with an only the most superficial comparison to its nearest competitor, Melt. Both Miel and Melt included a free branded gift with their first issue. However, not only was Miel more expensive (retail price ¥1620 vs Melt’s ¥1350), but you get less content for your buck (64 pages vs 88 pages). While I feel that Miel did a slightly better job in adding something new in their miscellaneous section, I don’t think this justifies the price or makes it stand out amongst other fashion publications in Japan enough to make it a must-have magazine. For anyone looking for more content dedicated to Lolita, Melt will tick more boxes for you as its a slightly more focused publication, whereas Miel is about a broad range of ‘Classic & Sweet Style’, as they claim on the cover. It’s better for those with a broader interest in kawaii fashion and even lifestyle, someone aspiring to be a lady. If Miel intends to stay in this format, I would like it to be cheaper, at least the same price as Melt if not slightly lower. Otherwise, I’m not sure whether I would buy another issue. Unless they had an extremely cute freebie – and I was buying something already.

Have you managed to get a copy of Miel? What do you think? Do you think that you’ll buy one?


4 comments:

  1. Thank you for this review! I don't like it so much that most of the magazine is only brand releases, but I think I will buy it anyway since I also collect Lolita magazines.

    About the afternoon tea article, I don't think that japanese Lolitas actually follow these rules (at least I have never heard of it before). I think it's more like an informative article because it's related to Lolita fashion. And actually it's not a very innovative idea since it was featured in the GLB numerous times before haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's different if you collect these. It's still very pretty to add to a collection, but for anyone looking for content I think there are better options.

      I've not had afternoon tea in Japan, so I can't comment, but I have seen that sort of behaviour amongst Japanese people quite often with various things, especially younger people. It's as if they switch to school thinking and if in a Japanese school everyone aims to get a perfect 100%, then they have to get a perfect 100% in that other non-Japanese thing, otherwise they're not doing it right or well enough.
      I didn't know that GLB has done an afternoon tea how to in the past, I don't have/seen that many past issues. But even if it has, it must've been quite a while back and given that I hadn't seen that in any Lolita publication for the last two years or so, I still think that Miel deserves credit for trying to do something more than just what everyone else is doing and in its first issue too.

      Delete
  2. Oh thanks for he review! I am so not a magazine person so this is really handy for me...and makes me want to be a magazine person!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, how does it make you want to become a magazine person? :P

      Delete

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