FAQ

Check out our FAQs below. These are actual questions we get both in-store and by email fairly often, so see if your question is answered below!  This list will be updated as we get new questions. If you think we’re missing anything, please email us and let us know!

Store FAQs
Fashion/Brand FAQs
Miscellaneous FAQs

Store FAQS:

Q: What is Tokyo Rebel?

A: We’re a US-based store that sells popular Japanese street fashion styles including rock, punk, gothic and Lolita. We sell the real brands, not the knockoffs you might regularly see on Ebay.  See the “Fashion FAQs” section of the FAQ for more info on Japanese and Harajuku street fashion.

Q: What is your store concept?

A: We’re modeled on a Japanese “select shop” that are popular in Tokyo and other Japanese cities, who pick and choose the best clothes from a variety of popular brands and styles. Our store name refers to Tokyo because that’s the epicenter of this kind of fashion.

Q: Why sell Japanese clothes in the US?

A: Because they’re more interesting and imaginative than anything most American brands currently produce.

Q: Why should I buy from you and not from another store?

A: First, because we strive to provide customer service that's second to none, from quick replies to inquiries to better packaging than our competitors to a personalized effort to solve any potential problems that may crop up.  You're not going to find a more professionally-run and customer-centric store selling this kind of fashion. 

We also pride ourselves on being forthright and honest in everything we do. Just read through our blog, our FAQ and the rest of our site and you'll see how up front we are.  Some stores - especially "storefronts" you might find on auction sites - claim to sell Japanese street fashion but in fact sell off-brand, low-quality knock-off items that copy Japanese designs.

Moreover, while we don't know how you first heard of us, we've built up a pretty large following online - more than 10,000 Facebook likes, tens of thousands of site hits per day, and thousands of satisfied customers.

With us, what you see is what you get.  We're a small company made up of people just like you.

Q: Do you ship overseas?

A: Yes, though the shipping costs are obviously a bit higher and you are responsible for any and all potential customs fees.  Also, since not every country supports the AVS security standard, if we see anything suspicious about your order, we may require you to fax us additional verification before shipping.

Q: What are your shipping costs?

A: See our policies page for shipping rate tables.

Q: Do you do special orders?

A: Yes, though see our policies page for the process and caveats. 

Q: I live overseas. Can you mark down the value on the customs form for me? Or mark the package a gift?

A: No, we cannot, as it is against USPS regulations for us to do so. Some people will do this, but they are taking a risk, and we cannot take that risk as getting caught could directly affect our ability to stay in business.

Q: Are your items in stock or do you need to order them from Japan? How fast will I receive my order?

A: We will specify in no uncertain terms if an item is not actually in stock. Most out of stock items will display an “OUT OF STOCK” message on the item page and you will not be able to add them to your cart. (This is because we are never sure if we can restock an item until we’re very close to actually receiving it again.) The only out of stock items you will be able to add to your cart are reserve items, items specifically marked as special order items, and sold out items that we’re sure to have back in stock shortly. In the last case, we specify in the item description when the items are expected in stock.

In all other cases, our items are kept in stock in New York and should ship within 1-2 business days.

Q: How often do you get new items?

A: It depends on the brand; we get shipments several times per month. Watch our blog for announcements.

Q: What is your return policy?

A: We have a 14 day defective exchange policy. If there is a problem with the manufacture of your item, we will take it back for replacement or store credit within 14 days. We cannot take back items for sizing issues, the reason being that unlike a store selling American brands, we cannot send clothes back to the manufacturer for credit. The Japanese manufacturers will not accept returns from us, so we unfortunately can only accept returns if your item is defective. This should be exceedingly rare, as we personally check every single garment we receive from each manufacturer as soon as we get it for just this reason.

Q: Do you have a physical store or only a web store?

A: We did have a physical store at 170 Avenue B in New York City (click here for details). It is temporarily closed while we get ready to open at a new location. In the meantime, we are concentrating on our online store, so please order from this site without hesitation.

Q: When do you expect to open a new store?

A: We had originally planned to reopen right away, but we learned a lot from our earlier location and it's more important that we find the right location even if it takes a while. We'll reopen just as soon as we find a location we think will work - it may not always seem like it, but we are actively looking.

Q: Why did you close your store on Avenue B?

A: The simple answer is that our lease was up and we decided not to renew it. We had taken that location about as far as it could go. It was a great place to get established and settle in to running a business, but the location itself was not ideal in a variety of ways. We're hoping to get closer to the ideal with our next store.

Q: What brands do you carry?

A: We are fully authorized retailers for Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates, SEX POT ReVeNGe, Atelier-Pierrot, Victorian maiden, Putumayo, Innocent World, SUPER LOVERS, VOLTAGE, and Morrigan New York.  We carry the most brands - and the most popular brands - of any Japanese street fashion store in the United States.

Q: Do you ever run sales?

A: We do have a continuously running and updated sale section on our web site, and we occasionally run special sales.  We probably do it less often than other stores, though, for a variety of reasons.

Q: Do you buy used clothes?

A: We currently are not buying used clothes.

Q: How do you price your items?

A: We try to stay as close to the Japanese price at the current exchange rate as possible.  However, there is more to importing clothes from another country than just the exchange rate.  We need to recover all of our costs, plus have some left over for profit.

Please note that we do not negotiate prices, either in our store or online. The marked price is the price. We do not do volume discounts, as we are not a volume seller.

Q: What is the five item rule in your fitting area, and why do you have it? (This will apply in our new store too.)

A: Almost all of the clothes we stock are limited or even one-offs (with the exception of some of our punk clothes), and even if we could replace them, it can take weeks to do so.  So we have to set a limit on the total number of items you can try on at our store, so that they remain in new condition until they're sold.  We ask that you pick out your very favorite clothes that you're considering buying, and then ask us to try those on.

Prior to instituting this rule, we actually would get quite a few people who would try on literally everything in the store just because they could (and then not buy anything).  We can't make a determination about whether or not somebody is seriously considering a purchase or just having fun by trying on cute clothes that they don't own, so we had to make a rule that applies to everyone equally.

 

Fashion/Brand/General FAQs:

Q: I bought something from you, now how do I clean it?

A: Check the tag and follow its instructions.  Here is a guide to Japanese clothing care symbols.

Q: I'm confused about what the fashion you sell actually is. Can you explain it?

A: This is probably the #1 question we get from those new to our store. You've probably figured out that all of our fashion (with the exception of Morrigan New York) comes from Japan. We sell several very distinct styles that can broadly be categorized as rock/punk inspired clothing, Gothic clothing and Lolita clothing. A couple of these styles are basically familiar to most westerners, although the Japanese definitely have their own unique take on them.

Lolita clothing is a very specific, very Japanese but hugely popular genre in underground fashion. It is loosely based on Victorian and Rococo styles from 18th and 19th century Europe, although it has taken on a life of its own over the years and developed unique traits and its own sub-genres. You can obviously mix and match the styles we sell, but all Lolita fashion sub-genres have certain style conventions that adherents follow. It is a unique fashion in this way. Have no fear, we are glad to help you understand the fashion and get you started if you're interested! We always want to help those new to the fashion style.

Again, we certainly don't discourage anyone from just buying a single Lolita item to mix into their own outfit. You do not need to follow the "rules" of Lolita unless you really want to dress fully in that style. But a surprising number of people do this and there is a large community built around the fashion in both Japan and the west. We're glad to help you join that community if you'd like to.

The one thing all of our clothes have in common is that they are all alternative clothing, part of the fashion underground. In Japan, they are often grouped together and worn by the same people (on different days) despite being very different, distinct styles.

Q: Why is it called "Lolita" fashion?

A: The origin of the name itself is still debated. The first use of it dates to sometime in the 1970's, which is when the first Lolita brands sprang up in Tokyo. Many westerners new to the fashion automatically assume that the name must be associated with the Nabokov book, and therefore the fashion must be somehow related to the western "Lolita" concept that grew out of that book. (Before the novel, "Lolita" was just a name with no specific connotation.) But Japan is a different country with a different culture (and this was the 1970's, before cheap flights and the internet), and there is nothing about the fashion itself that seems at all connected to anything in the book. So a direct, intentional connection seems unlikely. It may have even been a term that someone outside the fashion used first to describe what they were seeing and it stuck, in a similar vein as "decora" fashion. The first Lolita brands did not set out to create "Lolita fashion", they just made clothes in a certain Victorian-Rococo inspired style. So they may not have been the ones who first named the movement - it may have even been a westerner who did.

Q: What does it mean when someone says they only buy “brand”?

A: “Brand” just means one of the major acknowledged brands of Japanese street fashion. It’s the same as saying you buy “name brand” when referring to other products, as opposed to no-name or off-brand items.

We only sell "brand" items.

Q: Who determines what’s “brand” and what isn’t? Is Bodyline or Milanoo “brand”?

A: In terms of Lolita, there at one point was an actual Gothic & Lolita Association including all of the major Japanese Lolita brands you know (and some you probably don’t). No, this does not include Bodyline or Milanoo. This is really where the term “brand” comes from – the former association brands collectively represented the fashion and made decisions on where it was headed. They set the trends. A list of brands that were part of the Gothic & Lolita Association can still be found on the Japanese Gothic Lolita Wikipedia page. This association has since been dissolved, although the brands still cooperate with each other to promote the fashion.

Q: How realistic/accurate is the movie and book Kamikaze Girls (aka Shimotsuma Monogitari)? Is the actress who played Momoko really a Lolita?

A: A lot of western Lolitas got their start in the fashion through this movie/book, and it really did a lot for the industry in Japan too. It was created with the full cooperation of Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and with a lot of attention to detail, so it is very accurate in its depiction of the fashion at that time. Bear in mind that a decade or more has now passed and Lolita fashion isn't static, so some of the styles you see in the movie look a little dated today. But it's still an essential title for anybody new to the fashion, and a great movie in its own right - we recommend it!

No, Kyoko Fukada is most definitely not a real-life Lolita, although she does play one in the movie very convincingly (and she won an award for it). It's not hard to find Japanese Lolitas who are very much like Momoko. Her character is based on a stereotype of Japanese Lolitas, but it's a stereotype that does exist, even though everyone in Japan has their own unique reasons for getting into the fashion and many Lolitas are perfectly happy.

Q: How about a rundown of the concepts behind the brands you sell?

A: Ok, here goes:

Baby, the Stars Shine Bright - sweet Lolita for girls who want to be an elegant princess
Alice and the Pirates - originally "pirate Lolita", now closer to gothic but with sweet elements
SEX POT ReVeNGe – hardcore punk for men and women
Atelier-Pierrot – traditional elegant gothic Lolita (EGL)
Victorian maiden – classic Lolita with a focus on adult women
PUTUMAYO – punk Lolita with a "poisonous atmosphere" (their words!)
Innocent World – traditional classic Lolita
Hellcat Punks - cute punk for girls
SUPER LOVERS - pop, punk and Lolita thrown in a glorious blender, focusing on setting trends
Morrigan - Victorian and Lolita-inspired clothing with classic elements

Q: What is the meaning of the name "Baby, the Stars Shine Bright"?

A: The brand is named after an album by Everything But the Girl.  It has no other meaning; it is not a brand for girls trying to dress up as babies. (Yes, we've actually heard that one!) The owner of the brand is an EBTG fan.

Q: Why are some of these brands priced so high?

A: You are paying for both quality and design. A lot of people will only consider things like weight or thread count or stitching, but fabric quality is not all that you’re paying for. Somebody designed that t-shirt or that dress or that hair accessory, and in the case of an original print, somebody illustrated it. Their services are not free. In fact, at many Japanese brands, the designers are the top earners at the company and are famous in their own right – and it's their designs that actually sell the clothes. The design of these clothes is basically the entire reason we are selling them (it would be easier to sell American clothes), so at least a little bit of a premium is worth it. These designs are unique in the world.

Q: Why don't you sell replicas?  I can't afford brand!

A: You may as well ask Nordstrom why they don't sell the cheap knockoff Coach bags you can buy on Canal Street.  It's just not our business and we don't support it. Japanese Lolita and punk brands are not large businesses; they cannot afford to absorb the costs of bootleg merchandise. These are small businesses of under 100 people (in some cases, under 10 people) whose only income is the products they design and sell. Replica producers that outright copy those designs and then undercut prices by 50% or more are having a severe impact on the entire industry.

Q: Why don’t you sell more mens’ clothing?

A: We actually carry quite a bit of clothing intended for use by both men and women from SEX POT ReVeNGe. Except for obvious things like one-piece dresses, skirts and bare-shoulder shirts, most of their clothing is unisex, both in look and size.

Most other brands in Harajuku just do not produce mens’ clothing. We’d carry more if they did. Our brand selection is pretty representative of Harajuku fashion as a whole and only one of the ten or so brands we have regularly produces menswear.

Most of the clothing you see visual kei bands or other popular guys wearing in Japan is custom.  There are a few exceptions, like X-Japan with h.Naoto (though most of their clothes are custom made too, by h.Naoto), although not every brand has a business strategy that meshes with ours so we can't automatically stock every brand we'd like to.

Q: Why don’t you sell clothes from (insert Japanese brand name here)?

A: Every brand you don’t see here is missing for its own unique reason. We are at least aware of every established brand operating in Harajuku. Some brands don't want to sell overseas, others would rather do it themselves, while still others either wouldn't fit in with our product mix or would be redundant with a brand we already carry.

Q: I’m a western designer – will you sell my Japanese-inspired clothes?

A: Please understand that this is not a judgment on your quality as a designer – but the answer is probably no.  It's just harder to sell them, and we don't have the resources to put into promoting independent designers.  We are currently testing the waters with some western designers, but we're picking and choosing based on what brands we know and like and think would complement our other products.  We do not generally respond to unsolicited requests from designers.

Q: Do you sell cosplay costumes?

A: No. All of our clothes are designed for everyday wear. They are high quality garments.

Q: What's the difference between costumes and what you sell?

A: When you wear a costume, you're dressing up as something different than what you are. What we sell are clothes; when a person wears Lolita clothing, they're not "cosplaying as a Lolita" any more than a person is "cosplaying as a rock star" when wearing jeans and a t-shirt. These clothes just represent who they are. In practical terms, costumes are much lower quality because they're made to wear once or twice. Real clothing like we sell is made to be worn many times before wearing out.

Q: I found stuff that looks just like what you sell for about half the price somewhere else. Why wouldn’t I just buy from them?

A: Because you found one of three things: a) replicas, b) cosplay costumes, or c) a scam site. Replicas and cosplay costumes are likely to be lower quality than the real thing, and won’t last. Replicas are counterfeits and, depending on the similarity to the original, may even be a form of trademark infringement (considered bootleg merchandise). Cosplay costumes in particular also look bad when worn outside of a dress-up setting – it’s really obvious that they’re not real clothes just based on the material and poor fit. As for scam sites, you really need to be careful that you’re not dealing with somebody who will take your money and run. If you see “brand” items advertised for well below what you see elsewhere, that is a scam site. The brands are very selective in who they deal with, and they will not deal with a site that undercuts their own prices significantly.

There is always a lot of talk in the Lolita community, especially, about various overseas off-brands, many of which are very cheap. However, you generally get what you pay for. Our position is that it’s better to spend $300 on a dress that you will wear and love for years than waste $75 on a dress that’s unwearable even once. Caveat emptor, but we are giving you some honest advice to avoid heartbreak.  Save up and buy quality.

Q: Do you sell Visual Kei fashion?

A: We sell many items that can be used in visual kei coordinates, though few brands in Japan claim to produce "visual kei fashion".  SEX POT ReVeNGe, which is often held as the standard-bearer for VK fashion, calls their fashion "punk", so that's how we refer to it as well.  But you can certainly use their clothes - as well as Hellcat Punks and even Putumayo or Maxicimam items - in a VK coordinate. Use your imagination.

Q: Do you sell "FRUiTS" fashion?

A: FRUiTS is a magazine that first popularized "decora" fashion, which is basically a DIY fashion style where you just mix and match colorful stuff. There's no real definition to this fashion and the term "decora" was applied by those who noticed it as a style that was becoming popular. It's not a term really used by those who actually wear it, because they're not really doing it consciously. You don't go out and buy a "decora t-shirt" or a "decora skirt" at a "decora store". We definitely sell some things that could be used in colorful coordinates that might end up in FRUiTS magazine, but it's kind of an unintentional fashion style so we don't promote it that way.

Q: And mori girl?

A: Similar answer to the one above - mori girl isn't really a fashion style with distinct brands that claim to produce mori girl garments, so it would be difficult for us to stock even if we wanted to. It's more just the overall look of the moment. Also, it is very mainstream, which isn't really what we do. You can buy it at Forever 21. We're not trying to compete with them.

Q: Do you take Victorian maiden reserves?

A: Yes we do.  We are fully authorized to do so through our web site and in store.

Q: Do you take Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and Alice and the Pirates reserves?

A: Yes we do.  Again, we are fully authorized to do so, although the process differs from VM (please read the reserve page carefully). Note that popular items can be difficult to get.

Q: And Innocent World reserves?

A: Again, yes.


Miscellaneous FAQs:

Q: What is KERA?

A: KERA is a monthly Japanese fashion magazine that is the unofficial bible of the brands and styles that we carry. It is hugely popular, and all of the major alternative street fashion brands participate in its production.  Its featured styles do change over time, as it is both a reflection of and influence on street fashion in Japan.  Currently, it is mainly focused on punk, retro and distorted hip-hop styles.

If you're new to Japanese fashion and are wondering how to get started, take a look at KERA for ideas. We sell it online. New issues do sell out quickly, so hurry when you see it posted.

Q: What is the Gothic & Lolita Bible?

A: The G&L Bible is a “mook” (magazine/book) that’s put out by the makers of KERA. It’s published periodically and focuses exclusively on gothic and Lolita fashion, since KERA often leans more towards punk. The G&L Bible shares models with KERA.

Q: Are any of these magazines produced in English?

TokyoPop published a US version of the GLB that was based on the Japanese version but included a lot of local content, however their issues were years behind the originals and the last "new" issue was published several years ago. In Japan, these magazines basically serve as a catalog of new releases (the pictorials are designed just to showcase new items in different situations), so it was a problem that the US issues were so far behind. Almost nothing pictured inside them was still available, so the brands in Japan had no interest in supporting it and consumers didn't show enough interest to keep it afloat.

No other Japanese alternative fashion magazine is produced in English; they are all Japanese-only, including the GLB these days.

Q: Do you sell these magazines and mooks?

A: Yes! We sell them in our store and online.

Q: Why are you always sold out of magazines?

A: Magazines are actually money-losing items, and it's obviously our job to do the opposite! So we stock enough to promote the upcoming clothes we might be carrying, but any money we spend on magazines is money we don't have to spend on more profitable items. So we recommend ordering as soon as you see them appear on our site or in our store.

Even in Japan, you're lucky if you find the GLB or KERA in a book store more than a few days after its release. Most book stores get five copies of each.

Q: Do you sell any other fashion magazines?

A: At the moment, we only sell KERA and GLB.

Tokyo Rebel

PO Box 611
Valley Stream, NY 11582
Ph: 646-493-9034