What Made Certain Prints so Popular?


I’m back to joining the Lolita Blog Carnival after a bit of a break and while I’m not sure if I’m the best person to talk about prints that are considerably before my time, I will give this a go. After all, we can all have an opinion on stuff, current and past alike.

Let’s start off by defining which prints I’ll be talking about. There are plenty of newer status prints, such as Romantic Rose Letter or Crystal Dream Carnival, that are sold second hand for way more than they retailed when new. However, whilst certainly highly sought after, they aren’t necessarily at the same level as the ‘original’ holy grails: Cat’s Tea Party and Puppet Circus from AP and Iron Gate from Moi-meme-Moitie. I’ve deliberately missed out Sugary Carnival as it has dropped in price quite a lot in recent years, and I’m not including anything from BtSSB, Innocent World or Metamorphose because as far as I’m aware even their most lusted after prints don’t really go for such astronomical prices as Cat’s Tea Party, Puppet Circus and Iron Gate do (hereafter referred to as CTP, PC and IG respectively).

The Three Holy Grails of Lolita Prints.
Images from Lolibrary.org

The first and probably most important reason why these are so popular is their rarity. PC and IG were originally released in 2006, whilst CTP was a limited MTO release. This means that the numbers for these releases are low, as far as CTP’s concerned, there were probably only around 50 setsever made. As we know from economics lessons, if the demand is high, but the supply is low, the prices will remain high, and to be honest, all three were pricey releases for their times, with a slight exception of PC (it was still pricey compared to other 2006 AP releases, but by today’s standards it’s pretty common to have a 30K OP and a 28K JSK). Add to this the fact that none of these three prints have ever been re-released, at least at the time of writing, and you’re stuck with this low supply of items that people lust after.

These prints were expensive to begin with and are stupidly so nowadays.

But why did people lust after in the first place? In case of PC and IG, these were one of the very first few border prints that started appearing in Lolita fashion. In 2006 Lolita was only just getting out of what we now consider the oldschool style that focused on construction details, like ruffles, gathers, pintucks and layers, and the only non-solids were patterns, such as gingham or flowers. Border prints were a novelty, so to see something as elaborate as PC or IG, even in spite of the initial opposition to Lolita fashion changing, must’ve appealed to many. And especially with IG, that was a print that encapsulated what the substyle was about and its aesthetic, meaning that Gothic Lolitas, even if they generally preferred different themes, could find something to like about it. With CTP, it’s the combination of cats having tea in a very elegant setting, an image which is inherently full of appeal to Lolitas, combined with the Imai Kira’s artwork that gathered appeal. Moreover, in 2012 when CTP was released, we were still in the midst of the OTT Sweet reign, so a more elegant, classy and mature print and cut like this was bound to pull the heartstrings of those more Classic-leaning, as well as get Sweet Lolitas weak at the knees because cute cats.

2006 was the very beginnings of border prints.
Printscreen of Lolibrary when searching for
Angelic Pretty 2006 JSK.

The beautiful design and very limited accessibility drove up the supply, yet I think that there’s another element at play here, which is a direct result of the other two: idolising these prints. As more and more people wanted these, but only few had it, the wishlists and want-to-buy posts kept coming in with these prints featuring on them. This way even though newcomer Lolitas wouldn’t have been around when they were released, they very quickly became aware of their existence – and if other people want it so much, then it must be very nice, so I want it too (at least until one realises what their true likes, style and aesthetic really are). Especially when so few worn photos of these prints surface and all one has are stock photos, it’s even easier to idolise the print and build it up in your mind into something more than it actually is. (At Dream Masquerade Carnival, when few people wore their CTP sets and one was shown in the fashion show, I heard many people afterwards comment how they didn’t like it as much now that they’ve seen it in person.) In other words, the collective Lolita consciousness has elevated these three prints into a status beyond what mere mortals can achieve or dream of, essentially turning these into legends. And just like many of us dreamt of being a part of the legend of King Arthur or some other legend, just as romantic, many Lolitas will continue to want CTP, PC or IG – either because they genuinely like these or because they want to own something that’s a legend.

"Everyone wants Cat's Tea Party!" "Well, I want it too!"
High Tea and Gossip by Delphin Enjolras.

The real question now is how long will these prints remain so popular? I touched upon it earlier, but although there were so many other ‘holy grail’ prints, most of these have since lost that status. Sugary Carnival dropped in price due to rereleases and the drop in popularity of OTT Sweet, the Carnival series, although still as expensive second hand as PC, does feel a little dated now and has had a MTO rerelease last year. Innocent World has had a lot of rereleases last year, with the rerelease of its most popular series, Lotta, coming up, which should drive the second hand prices down, and Metamorphose hardly ever retains its resale value. BtSSB has had an infamous now auction of its Princess Jellyfish collaboration and the collaboration pieces probably will stay pricey second hand, but its regular releases are hardly as expensive. AatP makes up for that thanks to prints like Vampire Requiem or Elizabeth ~ Bride of the Death ~ print, although even those were rereleased recently, which might affect the resale price. Now, AP has explicitly said that they will not rerelease any of their velvet prints due to the high cost of and difficulty working with the material – and with CTP, they’re more interested in new Imai Kira collaborations, as well as there may be legal issues due to joint ownership of copyrights. Therefore, these are likely to remain expensive second hand and retain their legendary status. On the other hand, Moi-meme-Moitie was recently acquired by the company that runs Wunderwelt, so the rumours of an IG rerelease may eventually come true, although it remains to be seen whether that would affect the print’s status in any way.

Very few things never drop in price. Some simply
take longer to do so.
Photo by Muuh Shopping Service from their Twitter.

If you’ve stuck to the end of this long-winded post, then well done. Do you agree with my reasoning? Is there anything else that you feel I missed out? Let me know and remember to check out what other bloggers have to say on this matter:


  1. Nice post!
    I just want to point out one thing about the CTP 50 piece reference - it is definitely incorrect. Last year at DMC Maki and Asuka answered that question and said that far more than 100+ pieces were made. I believe that the article there has done searches for the ones sold - but if the majority of the owners kept their CTP, then they wouldn't see those sales. Plus, many sales in other countries are done on other website, or via secondhand stores - not just auctions.

    Anyway, I think the rest of your article is spot on, I just really wish that people would stop quoting that CTP article. There are more factors that it doesn't take into consideration right off the bat.

    1. Ah, yes, they did. I wasn't there in the room during the Q&A, but I have heard somewhere that there were more, just forgot and I had hoped that the article would've been updated after DMC. Still, 100 pieces is very little compared to usual releases, especially to be spread over the whole world.

  2. Great post!
    I totally agree with your point of view: many lolitas tend to idolise prints or collections, even if they are not the bee's knees.
    As I started reading about lolita when Sugary Carnival was one of the most desired dresses, it felt surprising (and a little heartbreaking, because my sweet phase had ended and I no longer wanted to own SC, haha) when prices dropped. Luckily, my wishlist is quite affordable :P
    I can't help but think that lolita and any kind of collectionism (I tend to compare lolita wardrobes with old comics collections, due to the exclusivity and how careful owners are with their possesions) have a lot in common...

    Marina | Teapots and Frills

    1. Thank you! I think your comparison of Lolita to comic book collectors is pretty spot on - we may say it's fashion, but to so many people it's a lot more than just clothes to wear and we do all act very careful around it, just like those comic book collectors when they read their issues.


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