Whether or not I’m wearing lolita fashion, I have a problem shared by many, many girls: it’s difficult to find clothing and shoes that fit me well. Personally, I’m smaller than most measurements, but not terribly short (although certainly not tall). The issue I most commonly face is the smallest size just not being small enough. Buying shoes is particularly difficult. I’m finding that most companies are now starting at 6 US or larger–there are few options for my 5 US or smaller feet! Many of the shoes I have owned for a while are slowly reaching the end of their shoe lifespan, but I’m finding it harder and harder to buy replacements.
This was what led me to order from Grace Gift via their “flagship” shop on TaoBao. TaoBao is a Chinese auction/shopping site that is rather like Japan’s Rakuten or US-based eBay. It’s generally considered to be an internet shopping mall, as opposed to an online store, because there are so many goods available from a variety of retailers. I had been curious about TaoBao because there are more and more up-and-coming lolita fashion brands selling via that network, but I hadn’t actually ordered anything.
Grace Gift is a Taiwanese shoe company that makes “Lovely Shoes for Sweet Girls.” They do not specifically or exclusively sell shoes to be paired with lolita fashion, but they offer several styles that would be cute with a coordinate. (Although they also have many other sandals, flats, pumps, and boots that are “trendy” or gal-style.) You can purchase their shoes through their shop at Rakuten, their shop on Yahoo!Taiwan, their shop at TaoBao, and their “flagship” shop on TaoBao. I ordered from the Grace Gift shop on TaoBao because they had the best selection of the shoes I wanted.
Shopping at TaoBao requires a shopping service, an intermediary who makes the purchases for you and ships them internationally for a fee. I chose to use TaoBaoNow because I had read a few reviews and liked the look of their semi-automated system. They are not the least-expensive shopping service for the website in question, and I have heard they do not respond to emails promptly. I did not email them, however; I posted questions within their system which they responded to within two days. The shopping cart automatically calculated shipping and provided me with an image of the item I was purchasing, which I very much liked. I wish I would have gotten emails from the system when certain steps were complete during the processing, but instead I had to log on and check–although it wasn’t difficult to see which stage my order was at, as there are easy to understand icons and instructions at each step. My transaction was satisfactory, but I think I might try another service if I place another order, just to see how it compares.
I ordered two pairs of shoes: flats with bows at the toe and kitten-heeled pumps with a bow on the back. (I like bows–that should be already established.) I did not order these with the thought of wearing them with my lolita wardrobe, but now that they’ve arrived I just might! I particularly think the white pumps might add elegance to some of my outfits~
The shoes arrived well-packed in a very thick and sturdy shipping box. However, the local sorting center is very unkind, so the shoe boxes inside of the shipping box were still a bit damaged, but the shoes were packed so well they remained unharmed. The shoe boxes were wrapped together in plastic wrap and tape, protecting them from any moisture. The shoe boxes themselves are very sturdy, beautiful white boxes with a gold foil logo for the shop on the top. Inside, they’re lined with tiny pink hearts~ ♥
When I opened the box, I didn’t expect to see non-shoes, nor did I expect the shoes to be so nicely packaged.
Each shoe was stuffed with tissue and a plastic rod to keep its shape, and slipped individually within a printed fabric bag. The toes of the pink shoes were wrapped in plastic to prevent the bows from being bent or pushed out of shape. The bagged shoes were nestled in the box underneath a small pile of “goodies”–a printed eco-tote, ankle cushion inserts, toe cushion inserts, a business card, and a care guide. (Unfortunately, I can’t read the care guide; it is obviously in Chinese.) There were also a few packages of silica in each box.
One of the most exciting moments for me was seeing that the shoes genuinely look like the pictures in the shop. I’ve purchased shoes before, only to be disappointed when I see flaws or design elements that were carefully covered up or distracted from in the company’s official pictures. The pictures in the shop are obviously edited–but not in a way that misrepresents the products.
The construction of the shoes is very, very good. They’re made from a shiny synthetic material that smelled very strongly when I first opened the box, but the smell faded quickly. The material does not look cheap, and it has a pleasant feel. The seams are sewn very straight, and trims are applied evenly. The only thing I don’t like is the way the ends of the ribbons are finished on the heels of the pumps–I think they could have been done better. Despite this criticism, they aren’t an eyesore nor do I feel compelled to alter them.
The very best part is that these shoes are extremely comfortable! The backs of the heels are lined in a thin suede-like material to prevent blisters. The insoles are cushioned, and provides support for ones foot even without the additional inserts provided. The sole is stable and attached cleanly to the bottom of the shoe. It’s also ADORABLE, with the company name and cute little emblems all over the bottom. It’s a shame this bit of decoration can’t be seen, but these details provide some traction.
The fit is just slightly larger than I would like it to be, which leads me to believe that the 35 is equivalent to a true-to-size US 5. The shoes are not so large that they slip around on my feet or require insoles, and in fact I’m sure that after a long day of walking I’ll be glad they aren’t vacuum-sealed to my feet!
I paid 541元 (Chinese yuan) for both pairs, domestic shipping, and the 10% service fee, which came out to roughly $88 USD on the day I paid the invoice. Overall, I would say they are definitely worth $44 per pair! They are nicer quality than most shoes I see in American stores, and more professional than any non-brand lolita shoes I’ve purchased. (My Secret Shop ballerina replica shoes, although very nice, do not have this level of attention to detail.)
There are already a few other pairs of shoes that I’m eyeing from Grace Gift, but that will have to be a future purchase. These two pairs were a kindly funded by my mother, although I tried to chip in at least by paying the international shipping fees.