The Black Ribbon Konbini Market JSK review


The procrastinating part of me tried to dissuade me from writing this post since by now I’ve worn this dress a handful of times, I raved about it, so is there really a point? But if there’s a point in sharing an unboxing, then there’s a point in sharing a review. All the more so for indie brands like The Black Ribbon who thrive off feedback being shared through word of mouth. So ignore how belated this review is, focus on the goodness that is the dress presented and take this as one of the many positive things that have already been said about The Black Ribbon.

About The Black Ribbon

For those of us still unfamiliar with the brand (as due to location they are much more popular in the USA than in Europe), The Black Ribbon is a California-based independent kawaii fashion brand. Their specialty is lolita main pieces with a focus on classic and sweet designs, as well as on wafuku, though they also regularly release smaller bits, from cutsews and corsets to lace-topped socks and more recently: Kumya dresses. They are a frequent vendor at conventions and lolita fashion events across the United States, and I admit that I’ve only ever heard one person outside of the USA talking about them in the context of owning their items, which feels like a great shame. Whilst The Black Ribbon seems to mostly be working with commercially available fabrics, their eye for spotting the more unusual ones means that there really isn’t much like their pieces on the market, which together with offering sizes that fit Western bodies has rightfully earned them appreciation from the community.

About the Order

Ordering, or rather pre-ordering, my dress from The Black Ribbon was extremely easy thanks to the pretty standard webshop checkout system embedded within their website. After stalking and stalking for literal months (seriously, I knew about Konbini Market since January and had to wait until June to get my grubby paws on it), the order went live on their website. I checked out on the same day as the pre-order dropped, bagging my preferred colourway and size (size 2, more on that later), and then waited.

The release was expected to start shipping by mid-September, which to be totally honest, I forgot over the months of waiting. However, there were regular production updates shared via Instagram, so I knew that things were moving along. My order was shipped at the end of September and arrived on October 17th with no issues whatsoever. Other than the dress I also received some Japanese sweets, which were as appreciated as they were appropriate for the theme of this print.

About the Dress

My first choice was the JSK in Oyatsu Blue, as that fabric was what caught my attention all the way back in January. At the time of placing the order I was having some struggles with my body image, so whilst part of my brain tried to reassure me that I would easily fit size 1 (and in hindsight, I still think that I would have), I gave in to the anxiety by buying the slightly larger size 2 which was a bit less on the cusp of my measurements. Either cost $265, so needing that peace of mind made the choice for me in the end.

The dress in all its glory, simple in construction and very charming in print details.

The dress that arrived is as gorgeous as the one I saw on preview pictures. The cotton fabric is just the right weight to hold a bit of structure on its own, thus helping the petticoat create your desirable volume, without being prone to excessive wrinkling. Straight out of the bag the dress was good to go after only a bit of shaking and any remaining wrinkles settled after the dress was hung up for a day. Between the weight of the fabric and the solid construction, this dress feels sturdy enough to take a beating (not that I plan on subjecting it to one), which fills me with confidence that this will stay with me for years.

This satin ribbon belt adds a great pop of a more vibrant colour to the JSK.

The Black Ribbon made a very smart decision in keeping trims minimal to highlight the amazing print. At the same time, the choices on what was included do accentuate the print further, from the striped red ribbon belt and bows at the straps to the simple white lace along the hem and a little above it to create a tiered effect. Whilst personally I am less keen on the bib as part of the overall design of Konbini Market, it is one bloody good bib, sitting very straight over the bodice and with some of the most beautiful pintucks that I have ever seen (and yes, I am going to have a little moment of singing praises for those pintucks, I admire them every single time!). This design is a masterclass in taking a fabric that’s already cute and making it kawaii. This could’ve easily been a much simpler cut, like a square neck JSK that Jane Marple favours - it still would’ve made for a very cute dress, but the overall effect would’ve been more “quirky arts teacher”. It’s the choice of trims and how they’re applied that takes the dress away from that and firmly into sweet lolita territory without taking any of the print’s inherent quirkiness away.

Pintucks might just be my absolute favourite construction detail ever. If I ever learn to sew, I am learning how to do pintucks and adding them everywhere!

Speaking of the print, it absolutely is the star of the show and still my favourite part about the whole thing. Although part of me anticipated the blue to be a little bit more saturated based on the fabric previews shared via Instagram, this slightly more muted shade of blue lends itself well to pairing with other colours from the print. It’s a bit of a chore to try to match, but if you know me, then you know that I’m not about that perfect colour matching anyway. Each of the snacks on the print evokes exactly the kind of Japan nostalgia that has me reaching for my trusty YouTube clip of Osaka Metro Midosuji line announcements and crying because I want this one specific kind of ice-cream that’s only sold in Japanese konbini (Choko Monaka Jumbo, in case you’re wondering, big recommend if you make it to Japan). It sounds dramatic and it’s all to say that the print is bang on at conveying not just the cuteness of Japanese snacks, but also that vibe of something being familiar yet foreign at the same time. All with a slight retro twist in terms of the style of illustration on the print - any of these snacks could’ve been framed and sold as a retro poster that I would’ve happily put up in my kitchen.

A carton of actual milk (as opposed to soy milk, which is more popular in Japan since it's more affordable) to add something less sugary into the mix.

I've never actually had one of those fruit sandwiches. Though Japanese konbini sandwiches do genuinely slap, they're great!

An ice candy (or a penguin lolly as I would've called it), sitting upside down on this print.

Earlier I talked about going for a size up and realising upon arrival that this may have been a little excessive. Size 2, which I purchased, certainly feels accurate to the measurements advertised on the listing page (which are bust 38-44” and waist 31-37”). The partial shirring at the back stretches with ease, it has enough give to accommodate that size range whilst also feeling strong and not like it’s stretched out already. Framing the shirring panel with two channels of boning was an unprecedented idea (at least to me) that has significantly raised my standards and expectations. They help the shirring lay flat across your back and although I’m personally used to the feeling of boning helping my posture, this one is plastic and lightweight enough so that it doesn’t force you to change how you stand or sit (though may aid that if you’d like it to). The straps are a comfortable length and adjustable further if required. Where it becomes the most apparent that I could’ve gone for size 1 is just under the arms where the dress pulls away from my body a little, having been cut slightly wider than what I need in that area. Had there been some space for corset lacing over the shirring panel, it likely would’ve fixed that issue for me, but that would require sacrificing the boning channels which I enjoy. The slightly too big a size is not immediately noticeable and it does mean that should I grow, there’d be room to accommodate that, plus it makes for an overall extremely comfortable JSK - nonetheless I am a little upset with my past self that being in a worse state emotionally prevented me from getting size 1 which probably would have been a more accurate fit for me without sacrificing the comfort.

One of the three types of lace used on this dress.

Though my favourite is probably the hem lace, it's so dainty and soft.

And there’s a pocket. Only one, as there’s a sturdy zip on the other side, nonetheless there’s a very sizable pocket which has already come in useful during not one, but two grocery shop trips.

Can it even be a complete print of Japanese snacks without some melon pan?

More ice cream to add to the other ice cream featured.

Another one that's upside down within the print: kuriimu pan.

Overall, The Black Ribbon’s Konbini Market JSK has 100% met my expectations. It’s comfortable, adorable, and nostalgia-inducing in all the best ways possible. I can’t wait to explore all the different ways that I could style this print and whilst in my mind it’s associated a little bit more with the warmer seasons, I will do my best to wear it throughout the year and seasons because it truly deserves this. The Black Ribbon also gets a full 10/10 from me, shopping with them was a wonderful experience and whilst my wallet would rather that they didn’t release too much that called my name so strongly, my body is more than ready to welcome all the comfortable and flattering dresses that they have to offer.

Whilst this review is far more comprehensive than the video embedded below, if you’d like to see some true first reactions, then enjoy the unboxing that I have filmed for this. This is likely going to be my last video for this calendar year, even if it was filmed all the way back in October, so enjoy the unseasonality of it!

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