Le Panier review


The magazines are still popping up like mad and I am here for it. Today it’s time to have a look at the latest title to be released, Le Panier.

Le Panier retails at ¥820 incl. VAT, which worked out at exactly £10.15 once shipping costs were added. Honestly, I love Amazon.jp to bits for how easy it is to order from it directly, it’s just a shame that it won’t group your orders (I ordered an issue of Larme at the same time, but they arrived separately – whether that’s because Larme was in stock and Le Panier was a pre-order or because of it coming from different sellers, I don’t know). Something must’ve delayed the DHL shipping this time, but that was still negligible in the grand scale of things and I received the magazine 5 days after posting from Japan. The magazine is also sold in China with a Juliette et Justine collaboration tote bag at CNY98 (approx. £11 or ¥1708). It’s odd how the freebie is not included in the Japanese edition, but I won’t go into that for now.

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The first thing I noticed was that the magazine was the “wrong” way round. Or the “right” way. Well, wrong for Japan, right for us – as you browse it from left to right. It’s a minor detail, but very noticeable compared to all the other Japanese magazines I ever had. I’m not sure what the editors were trying to accomplish with that choice. Are they trying to signal that they want the magazine to be accessible to audiences outside of Japan? (Like I said, it was released in Chinese as well as Japanese, but I only have Girlism to compare it to – are magazines in China also read the same way round as in the West?) Or maybe they’re just trying to make it stand out in the domestic market? Hard to say at this point, nonetheless it’s an interesting choice.

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What’s more noteworthy, however, is the fact that Le Panier advertises itself as an exclusively lolita magazine. Now this could potentially be a make or break for it. The magazines I’ve looked at so far were, without exception, about wider Japanese fashion, generally feminine fashions, with some more Visual-kei or street fashion included. In essence, magazines like Melt, Miel and tulle were aiming for a niche of a more feminine KERA (maybe KERA mixed with Larme?), while Le Panier looks like it’s trying to fill the void left by GLB. Everything included in Le Panier is about lolita fashion only, from the previews of upcoming releases to snaps and extras – even the cover boldly claims that it’s a “New Wave Lolita Magazine”. Like I said, this could either be a make or break choice. GLB did leave a gap in the market and while Girlism does a lot to fill that gap in, it’s following seems more domestically driven (not helped by the fact that it doesn’t ship worldwide, unless you buy it at a marked up price from ClobbaOnline). At the same time, GLB went out of print for a reason (a few reasons even), so to put out a new printed publication focusing on such a niche fashion is a risky choice for the editors of Le Panier. Publishing simultaneously in Japan and China might be its redeeming point and what could ultimately keep it going, however, if the domestic demand wasn’t sufficient enough for GLB to continue, then I wouldn’t be surprised if the Japanese edition performed worse than the Chinese one. Especially if the Chinese version keeps adding exclusive freebies and the Japanese one doesn’t – that could be sending out the wrong message about which customers are valued more (even if it is more to do with what the domestic market for printed magazines is like than anything else).

But, that could be a whole rant on its own and Le Panier’s bold choices don’t stop there. Not only does the magazine feel a little bit more editorial and high fashion than its current counterparts – namely thanks to the elegant and themed the photoshoots, the large photographs and very thick, exquisite quality paper – but it foregoes some of the features that we’re used to like hair and makeup. There are no hair or makeup tutorials here or a transformation featurette with before and after photos. Well, there are three looks tutorials at the beginning, which replicate the cover makeup and two others from the same photoshoot, but even those feel different to your usual hair and makeup pages. Now, features like that aren’t there just to show readers how to achieve a look – often they are also an extra source of revenue for the publication through product placement and advertising. Overall, I spotted no adverts in the magazine and any products featured there are shots of upcoming releases from lolita fashion brands. While that makes for more focused content and fewer distractions for us as readers, it does make me wonder how sustainable this can be long term. Sales will have to be pretty strong and steady to keep the cost of the magazine this low: ¥820 incl. VAT is a pretty standard price for colourful fashion magazines like this. Larme costs around ¥650 and Spoon is around ¥980 – for reference, GLB and KERA were ¥1410 and ¥570 incl. VAT. All of the above (with possible exception of Spoon which I’m least familiar with) heavily featured advertising and product placement, so if Le Panier can survive and keep its price without that, then I’m all for it. However, I’d much rather deal with some ads and fillers if it meant the magazine continued than be orthodox about its aesthetic. And again, it is printed on really thick, good quality paper and only has 82 pages (only 6 pages fewer than Melt, but feels like its thicker because of the paper), so I’m all the more impressed that they managed to keep the price under ¥1000 – but that’s also all the more worry that it will be another publication that stops after issue 1.

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However, let’s get back to the contents. On top of the previews, we have a handful of pages that feel very editorial: an aesthetic photoshoot with Saku no Toridori (who, as far as I gathered, is a photographer or a photography studio) with text by Kumao Colin. Very beautiful and inspiring, it would look amazing in an antique frame on a wall.

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There are also not one, but three interviews with prominent figures in lolita fashion: Kira Imai, Midori Fukasawa, and Maki and Asuka. While the interviews themselves are on the shorter side, they are very interesting to read! They’re certainly not the copy and paste things: each person is asked questions aimed specifically at them and you get to learn a little bit about their story in relation to lolita fashion. I think even people who have been into the fashion and followed these figures for a while will learn something new from the interviews. Personally, I really liked Kira Imai’s comment that lolita fashion enables the wearers to become protagonists of their own story. It’s a great way of saying how wearing these clothes makes us feel empowered and we wear them for our own satisfaction, not for external gratification, and Kira Imai rightfully points out that once these clothes are on our whole appearance changes slightly as if suddenly granted superpowers (which isn’t that far from the truth, we do feel a confidence kick from it). It was also sweet to learn that once Midori Fukasawa, admired as she is now for her modelling, didn’t have the confidence to wear lolita fashion out and felt self-conscious walking in her home town in it, just like many of us still might do now. Lastly, it was reassuring to learn from Asuka that she sees Angelic Pretty developing more mature styles for adult lolitas. Whilst we have sort of seen that happen already, it’s exciting to see that put into writing and to sit back and watch where that takes us from now on. Of course, there’s always more to be taken out of interviews like this, those are just three points that stuck with me. Although I’m simply happy to see features like this back in fashion magazines, well done, Le Panier!
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However, my favourite parts are probably the features about various petticoats and the “deconstructed” outfits from the Le Panier Juchuukai pages (literally meeting for taking orders). As lolitas we know the importance of a good petticoat and people repeatedly ask for recommendations on a good place to get one from. While this 4-page spread is not intended to be informative or to give advice, instead it’s aesthetic-driven with a focus on the story that petticoats can tell, it nonetheless could be helpful to a newbie. The petticoat outlines below the photographs give a slightly better idea of shape than the photo, so being able to compare the two might teach someone about the differences between bell and A-line. And the “deconstructed” outfits seem to me like a fantastic way not only to showcase individual pieces, but to show how layering creates different looks and emphasise the importance of accessories, matching and detail in lolita fashion. Even though that’s not the intended purpose of those pages, the added benefit is pretty fantastic for me.

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If you haven’t already gathered, I really like Le Panier. Of all the recent magazines that feature lolita fashion it is by far my favourite. It has the high quality photographs and previews that I like about Girlism and some interesting additional content that made GLB great. Plus, it’s in Japanese, which for me is a big bonus as I’m actually able to read this. In other words: it’s pretty enough to give you joy simply from flicking through it, but has enough actual content to satisfy those looking for something to read. As well as a couple of more or potentially useful features and the usual nice stuff like outfit snaps and one actual tutorial (for a craft project nonetheless). All of this printed on a beautiful quality paper, but for a price that won’t break the bank. If I ever was looking for a replacement for GLB then I found it in Le Panier and hand on heart I will buy another issue if it lives that long. I would buy this over all the other magazines I’ve reviewed here so far and like I said, I’d be happy to sacrifice a bit of its aesthetic and quality (like by introducing more advertisements or lowering the quality of the paper slightly) if it guaranteed me issue 2 because the content itself has been worth it for me. Here’s to hoping that there will be enough demand for that issue 2!

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Have you bought Le Panier? How do you feel it compares to the other new magazines we’ve seen so far (or even to the old favourites)? If you haven’t, do you think that you’d buy it knowing what you’ve read from reading my review? Or are magazines just not your thing at all? Let me know your thoughts, I’m more than interested because Le Panier got me excited like no previous publication has since GLB.


  1. I haven't ordered it, but reading your review, makes me have a strong urgue for buying it.
    I don't think I would regret it. It looks amazing.

    1. If you've ever had the chance to browse through a really high fashion/artsy magazine like Harper's Bazar for example, then it feels closer to this than it does to Gothic and Lolita Bible. It's almost like a fashion photography book before it's a magazine, so regardless of whether you can read it, you can enjoy the visual side of it, which I really like about it.

    2. I orded it from Madame Chocolate.
      I don't wanted to deal with complex few system, just because shipping and special import fees for magazines.

    3. Yeah, if you can avoid it completely, then do it. I can't imagine the price difference will be that large. I didn't even realise that Madame Chocolate would stock it :D


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