Friday, November 14, 2014

Emiii's guide: Buying Liz Lisa online

I kind of borrowed the idea for this post from Berri (with permission!). Please go and check out her post as well if you're interested because it contains a lot of different information from her point of view :)
This post will explain my personal thought process/what I look for when I think about/plan on purchasing Liz Lisa online for myself, a brief overview of some of the options available + my opinion of them, and also a general guide/things I think shoppers should know.  I'll be honest - I'm VERY particular when it comes to buying Liz Lisa online, and I know that some things that are important to me are probably not worth caring about to others.

*please read* DISCLAIMER - This is merely my own personal opinion (therefore specifically calling it "Emiii's guide"). By no means am I claiming the following to be the be-all, end-all rules of buying Liz Lisa online. I don't claim to have extraordinary, legal or authorized knowledge on the subject. The content of this blog post has been collected through my personal reading, browsing and purchasing. I do not expect people to agree with me on all or any of these points. Civil discussion is encouraged and welcome. Feel free to take or dismiss my advice as you please. When you are purchasing, please use common sense, and be sure that you can live with the decision you are making based on your own situation. I should not be held responsible for purchases that you make.
That being said, I've answered questions about this at length in the past (on tumblr), and thought it would be good to have something to point people to if a question were to arise again. For the record, I will not continue to emphasize that what's in this blog post is only an opinion because it would be extremely redundant and annoying with basically every sentence, so please only read on if you can keep in mind!
Sorry that sounded really grumpy, but I felt it was necessary for this particular post.

  Outline (click the sections if you want to skip to a certain part. This is a long post.)
- Other Japanese websites
     Rakuten
     Storenvy,   eBay,   LJ gyaru sales,   FB,   etc.
  Tokyo Kawaii Life/Liz Lisa's online shop -
Links : Tokyo Kawaii Life - Liz Lisa section
If you are a first time buyer, please first consider checking out my how-to-order from TKL blog post here. It contains specific information about creating an account and checking out when you are ready to make your purchase. 
If you regularly buy from TKL, you can probably skip this. This section will be most useful to those who are unfamiliar with the website/brand and will include a lot of mundane information for regular customers.
Tokyo Kawaii Life is the official online shop for Liz Lisa (and the sister brands - Tralala/Penderie, Juge Etta & Liz Lisa Doll). They do not ship internationally, so you will need a forwarding/shopping service to receive goods outside of Japan. The online shop can definitely have some really great sales. The most extreme discounts (50% off +) are around July and December, although there are numerous and various sales throughout the year. I think around 85% of the time when I buy from TKL, I am buying during a sale of at least 20% off, if not more. Although they are not always immediately apparent or common, there are literally sales where items can come out to be 60-75% off!
Without question, the goods I receive from Tokyo Kawaii Life are authentic as they are direct from the source. It usually takes around 1 day for my order to ship within Japan and arrive at my forwarding service address. You cannot cancel an order once you complete it, so be sure to only submit an order if you are sure that you want it!
Sign up for the email newsletter. Going hand-in-hand with that, check your email, especially around Tuesdays and Fridays when the site is most often updated. The emails that I most look forward to receiving have the picture banners in them which usually (but not always) indicate a new sale or promotion. They also alert you to new arrivals.
You will probably receive around 4 or 5 emails from TKL a week and most of those will look like this (below) instead
Much less exciting. I usually quickly browse through the text only emails (which typically contain the same information that was in an earlier picture banner email) and then discard. However, you should pay special attention to any email (there may be pictures or it may just be a text email) that has the word coupon ("クーポン") in it.
This is why you want to subscribe to the emails. If you were to diligently check the TKL website very single day, you will probably notice if there is a new banner or sale just because things have changed around and would therefore think the emails useless. However, it doesn't matter how many times you check the TKL website, you will not get the coupon codes unless you subscribe to the emails. Most recently I was able to get an additional 40% off even sale prices thanks to a coupon code in an email.
Keep in mind that these coupon codes and also many sales are time sensitive which is why it's essential to check your email regularly!
If you have already created an account and didn't sign up for the newsletter, go to your "My Page" and click on the icon that looks like an open book and change your preferences there. Likewise, if the emails are annoying you/doing more harm than good, you can unsubscribe there as well.
When I go to the Tokyo Kawaii Life website, the first thing I do is sign in. This is so that I can see the sale prices/set prices/deals as soon as I add items to my cart.
If I want to shop this Mid Night sale (Buy 2 items or more in that particular sale section during the specified time period and get an additional 20% off), I want to know exactly at what price I will be getting the items. I don't want to have to bust out my calculator while I'm browsing, so instead I just add things to my cart (at least 2) to see the sale price. I can always take them out later (the delete button is the one in the far right column under the price), so I usually add as many things as I'm at least somewhat interested in when I'm browsing.
 
Of course, this is only the case when there is a buy 2 (or more) then a subsequent sale. Regular sale prices will display regardless. You need to log in if you want to purchase anyway, so you may as well do it from the beginning so you can see a more accurate total. You might even be receiving an even further sale price with the items you've added and not even know it until you've signed in & go to your cart.
Sometimes I just want to browse really quickly or am under a time restraint. A quick way to eliminate listings in a huge sale section is to sort the listings so that you only see what's available for purchase. The second drop down menu option allows you to eliminate the items that are sold out/show only what's available.
(FYI The first drop down menu allows you to change how many items per page. The third drop down menu allows you to sort by price.)
Is it worth it to scroll through all the pages of a sale? Well, I like to when I can. But only when I'm not pressed for time obviously.  It helps familiarize me with stock so I can recognize them later, (this may or may not come in handy when trying to ID replicas,) and sometimes they bring back items that I haven't seen in a long time, but they're on like the 35th page or something. I often feel it's worth it to go through all the pages of in-stock items. Sometimes I even go through all the pages of all items regardless of whether they're sold out or not so I can see if something *eventually* went on sale or things like that, if that makes sense.
More recently, I've noticed that some listings will restock. Some will not. I have not personally figured out if there is a pattern as to which will restock and which will not. Sometimes a listing will disappear completely and come back during a different season in the Outlet section. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that if a listing says "Sold Out", that does not necessarily mean all hope is lost forever. That might be the case of course, but it's not 100% certain, and there is at least a little hope imo.
Other than that, the site is pretty self-explanatory imo (after you go through the registration process ofc). I guess another common question is about not being able to advance through the check out process because there's an error in your card number or expiration date. I already have a blurb about this in the how-to-order tutorial, but a lot of people miss it. If you know you entered your information correctly, it's likely that your card company is blocking the transaction because international purchases are often deemed "suspicious activity", and your card company is trying to protect you from fraudulent charges. Call your card company to approve/OK the purchase, and it should go through after that.
Small side note for people who are interested: If you order at least 10,000yen worth of Liz Lisa items, you should receive a Liz Lisa shopping bag with your purchase.

Sometimes I'm not sure about purchasing an item from TKL at a certain time or price, and these are the thoughts that run through my head when I'm trying to make a purchase decision. This section might also be kind of boring for most of you, but I'm trying to be as thorough as possible.
  Questions I ask myself when considering a purchase from TKL -
  • Do I like this item? (obviously important)
  • How much do I like this item? (a lot, some, a little,  on a scale of 1-10?)
  • Why do I like this item? (it's cute ofc, but how/why is it cute? because of a cute print? because it's an interesting silhouette? just because it's featured a lot?)
  • Is the item cute or is the model/shop staff wearing the item cute? (for some reason this trips me up a lot haha because the girl wearing the clothes is so cute that I can't tell if the clothes on me are going to be the same way if I don't look like her lol)
  • What don't I like about this item?
  • What materials is it made of? (and does that matter?)
  • What is the retail price of this item? (if it's on sale)
  • What would I pay for it? 
  • What is it worth to me?
  • How long will I wear it? (it is seasonal? is it too youthful?)
  • Where will/can I wear it? (to work? to shop? to church? all of the above?)
  • How will it fit me? (free size is variable and this should be considered with every item!)
  • How will I wear it/What will I wear it with? Do I need to coordinate it with other things/can it be worn alone? How does it match with other clothes in my wardrobe? (particularly important for shoes, cardigans and separates but not so much for OPs)
When I'm considering waiting (for a sale) -
  • Do I want to wear it right now?
  • Is it at the beginning or end of the season?
  • How popular is the item? Will the item sell out?
  • Do I care what color I get?
  • Will I regret it if it sells out and never gets relisted?
  • What is my financial situation?
  • How much will the shipping be? (because if the shipping is substantial, it will push the price for the item even further than just the full retail price.)
Some of the questions kind of overlap, but I tried to jot them down as I was browsing through TKL, so these are literally questions I ask myself, haha. I obviously ask myself many of these questions when I'm considering a purchase in general from any site though. I'm including them because if you ask me question about purchasing, these are the things that I think about & they may help you make your own decisions too.
Here's an example of what my inner dialogue/thought process would be like for this item from Tokyo Kawaii Life:
    ギンガム重ね着風ワンピース  -  price: 9936yen (approx $99), not on sale, currently in stock in both colors: bordeaux and navy
I'm browsing through TKL, and I see the listing for this OP. I recognize the outfit from some of the shop staff blogs, and I remember that I thought the silhouette was interesting/different than usual so it caught my attention. I like to try something a little different every season. The second thing that caught my attention was the back of the top - I like stuff like that lol. I look through all the stock photos and notice that it's two separate pieces, not three. I still like the OP without the little top although I don't know how often I'd wear it like that since it's a little plain. I would probably not wear the little top by itself and don't know what else in my wardrobe it would match with alone. I do also like the set up altogether, but I'm not completely sure it would look good on me. It seems like the skirt is well fitted to the model's waist, and I don't think I would still like it if it was baggy/ill-fitted there so I have to hope it will fit the same way on me. The length of the skirt is not too short or long - a good casual length that I know won't overwhelm or be too skimpy on me. I like the sheer short sleeves that could possibly be worn off the shoulder (+ I like that they are not long sleeves or no sleeves). I could probably wear this to the office or church although it would be a little out of the ordinary to some people there. I could definitely wear just the OP without the little top to either of those without attracting unwanted attention, especially when paired with a cardigan. It doesn't seem too young or seasonal. OK, I basically decided that I generally like this item, and I would buy it. But now, under what circumstances?
I like it, but I don't full-retail-price like it. Especially because I already spent a significant amount this month on two big ticket items. I basically don't like it enough to pay $99 + at least $25 shipping right at this moment. So I know I won't buy it now. However, if there is a 50% off sale, I think I will scoop it up. I don't have an event that I am dying to wear this dress to. It's only the beginning of Autumn 2014 so it probably won't go on sale for awhile (like a few months at least), but I don't care since there's no rush to get it. I don't foresee this item being super, super popular, but even if it is, and it sells out, I'll be a little sad but not regretful. And if it does make it to a sale period, but there's only bordeaux or only navy, I don't care which color is available since I don't mind either. I do like the bordeaux a little better but I won't cry if only navy is left. OK, so I will probably buy it if it goes on sale.
If you're still following after all of that, you can see that I rarely make spur of the moment decisions when it comes to paying full retail or in general buying from TKL, especially because of the (sometimes unexpectedly high) shipping costs that come with it. I think by writing this I somehow further convinced myself that I like this OP lol FML. If I think about any of the items I'm lukewarm about too much, I'll probably end up liking them wtf. This was a pretty easy example though because I'm not super in love with the dress, and I like both colors. If there was a pair of shoes that I was dying for in a particular color (and of course needing a particular size), I'd probably debate a lot more about paying full price, and it would depend more about how much I had spent or anticipated spending that month.
However, most of the time, I can convince myself not to buy things at full retail because I'm actually kind of a tightwad with my own money. There are occasionally some things that I really like that I miss out on because I gambled on it still being available during a sale, but that's just more money saved for the next thing I know I will soon want. I typically have less hesitation during sales (especially 50% off +), but that's because there's less money at risk ofc, and I feel like I'm getting a good deal.

  Shibuya 109 net shop
The Liz Lisa store section at the Shibuya 109 net shop is another way to surely buy authentic Liz Lisa online. I do not have personal experience with this, but I do trust Shibuya 109 net shop as a legitimate source of Japanese clothing since it's directly associated with Shibuya 109.
Update 04/14/2015 - You can now use Tenso as a forwarding service with the Shibuya 109 net shop! (Of course using an SS is still okay as well.) Occasionally has different stock than the TKL and sometimes different pricing (sometimes cheaper and sometimes more expensive). This is a good place to look for Liz Lisa's Halloween outfits. Be aware that Tralala/Penderie items are mixed in as well.
Update 04/14/2015 - See also lizlisa.com's updated "Web Store" category in their shop list for other authorized/associated online retailers that may not be listed here since I can't go over them all, and they mostly have the same concept. This was not a category in their shop list when I first wrote this blog entry, but it's been up for a month or two now, I think. Shibuya 109 net shop is included in this list.

  Rakuten Liz Lisa shop
Rakuten Liz Lisa shop is another option. I haven't bought from them myself and don't necessarily plan on going the Rakuten route any time soon because I can usually find what I want direct from TKL. Sales are not always the same (although it seems like they use the same banners when they are?). Sometimes stock is different. Be aware that Tralala/Penderie/Liz Lisa Doll items may be mixed in as well. I'm pretty sure they don't ship internationally, so you will need a forwarding or shopping service.
Please note that I was referring specifically to the Liz Lisa shop on Rakuten above. NOT just any shop that is selling "Liz Lisa" goods through Rakuten. There are items that come up when you search "Liz Lisa" that are not Liz Lisa. Please be (more) careful when purchasing through alternate sellers. See below for more related information
Update 04/14/2015 - See also lizlisa.com's updated "Web Store" category in their shop list for authorized/associated online retailers that may not be listed here since I can't go over them all and they mostly have the same concept. This was not a category in their shop list when I first wrote this blog entry, but it's been up for a month or two now, I think. The Rakuten Liz Lisa shop is included in this list.

  Yahoo auctions jp/mbok
(This section received a major rewrite/edit on 11/04/2015)
Japan's yahoo auctions and mbok are similar to our eBay afaik. This is never my first choice to buy Liz Lisa - not because I never find things that I want, but mostly because I don't want to dish out the extra money to use a shopping service, and I'm less sure about each purchase (versus buying from TKL) since I'm getting an item secondhand. That being said, buying Liz Lisa secondhand from Japan is a VERY common suggestion and is often one of the only ways to get older or sold out stock or in-store novelty items. I usually search with "LizLisa" or "リジリサ". All that being said, the amount being asked for products are not always reasonable or in line with original retail and many items are clearly priced for profit. Be aware, in full, of what you are buying because I think that it's very hard to return or try to claim anything internationally.
You will need a shopping service to help you with this, which will be good if you can't read Japanese because they will probably be able to assist you with that. The downside is that using one/generally ordering from these secondhand sites in Japan can and will get very pricey. You will be paying not just the item price but also the SS's service, etc fees and domestic and international shipping. This can really add up and you often won't know the final amount until it has already been processed and it's too late to back out. I have personally tried fromjapan and Buyee (see Shopping services section below).
It's important to note that just because it's coming from Japan doesn't necessarily mean you're getting A+ product or authentic product. People in Japan have access to taobao and other replica shops as well. I don't mean to say that everyone on the auction sites are maliciously greedy or replica sellers, or even that any are, but I just personally don't consider "item coming from yahoo jp auctions/mbok = automatically authentic". I hope that makes sense.
Check out my posts about purchases from Yahoo auctions/Japanese secondhand purchases here.
If/As I continue to explore these secondhand sale options, I will make edits to this section.  

  Forwarding/Shopping services -
Tenso is my go-to fowarding service. I started using it because that was the one I read about when I was researching how to purchase from the Liz Lisa website for the first time myself. It also seems to be recommended by Tokyo Kawaii Life, so that's why I trust it. I have used Tenso's forwarding service for over 30 packages so far, and I haven't had any problems in particular with the service. A few times, it took a day or two longer than I expected for my package to be processed during the holiday season, but other than that, no big tiffs. Since it is the only company I have ever used, it is the only one I can fully recommend personally. I do like that they accept PayPal as a form of payment (besides just credit cards). The cost of using Tenso as a forwarding service includes the EMS shipping fee based on the weight of your package and Tenso's service fee which is also based on weight ranges (click here for more specific information). If you know the weight of your package, you can go here to estimate the usage fee.
I'm not exactly sure when this happened (sometime around Nov 14, 2014), but Tenso now has more shipping options and have adjusted their rates! [And as a result they changed around their site and I had to go back and fix a whole bunch of links here fml.] You are now easily able to ship by not only EMS, but also Airmail, SAL and Surface Mail!
I have now had multiple packages sent to Tenso since the change and opted to ship with SAL (Registered Small Package) instead of EMS for most of these. It will take longer to arrive at your final destination, but the difference in the fees was about $17, and most of the time I am not in a rush to receive my items. I did take a look at the fee breakdown, and it seems like (for North America at least) the service fee isn't exactly lower for the weight of package that I often send (around 1800g) - in fact it's a little bit higher. The shipping price for the slower options are a bit lower though so it compensates. If you ship a lighter weight package though, the rates are a bit better. If it's exponentially heavier on the other hand (like for the trunk fukubukuro) expect a service fee of around $25. I think it's also important to note that the size of your parcel can now greatly affect which shipping method is best for you besides just the weight, so SAL and AIR are not always cheaper than EMS despite the longer shipping times.
If you are interested in trying to estimate how much your package will cost to ship with Tenso and want to see what I've paid in the past or check out the weights of past packages of mine, I've complied a few here. I have also updated it to include shipping dates (essentially how long it took for the package to reach my house in Hawaii) for items shipped with SAL. Unfortunately, I haven't noted any of the package sizes, so you won't necessarily know if you'll be able to use the Small Parcel option beyond the weight. If you are trying to estimate how much you'll potentially need to ship so you can put that money aside for planning purposes, I would save at least the amount for EMS (which is a standard rate despite size), and you can always downgrade to AIR or SAL small package if they are options for you.
If you need help registering with Tenso or registering your Tenso address at Tokyo Kawaii Life, I would encourage you to check out my step-by-step buying guide in which I go into detail about those two steps.
Tenso also has a shopping/buying service, but I have only used the forwarding service.
A lot of people have questions about the proof of identity required by Tenso. I submitted mine when they first initiated the policy with no issues that I know of. Unfortunately, I do not remember all the specifics because I just wanted to get it done with so I could ship my package wherever I wanted (I had two addresses at the time). I think I probably just took a picture of my driver's license. I don't believe that it is mandatory to submit your proof of identity (apparently people have been using the service without it), but on the chance that you do want to ship something to a different address with some sense of urgency, I would just submit it. If you have any further questions about the policy, my advice is to contact Tenso directly. They will be able to better answer your questions.

As for an in-store shopping service, I have used Tokyo Pirates, originally recommended to me by mintkismet. I have only used her once so far (for my Liz Lisa x My Melody 2014 fukubukuro, full review here), but that was a pretty big order and during a very busy time of year so I feel like that was a pretty good "test". I received great service from Tokyo Pirates and happily recommend her to anyone abroad looking to buy from store locations.

Edit 02/11/2015: I have now also had the opportunity to use Nicole/peachberri's shopping service to purchase regular (sale) items that had sold out very quickly online. I had a great experience with her which I shared in this blog post about the Liz Lisa ribbon pumps she purchased on my behalf. She doesn't have a full website for her ss, but I still received fabulous, professional service through email communication and am happy to now recommend her as well. Please see my short review for more info about her ss including pricing, how to contact, etc. [Note: the review is near the bottom of the post and the upper portion is very photo heavy. The link I provided in this section should jump immediately to the review section, but there may be some loading issues if you are not in an area with steady internet service.]

Edit 11/04/2015: I chose fromjapan as a shopping service to win three auctions on Yahoo auctions during my first venture into the Japanese secondhand market. I didn't have any major issues, but wow was the total a lot more than I expected. (Perhaps my expectations were just on the low end though.) Click here to see what I won and a short review/intro on fromjapan.
After a recommendation from several friends, I also decided to try Buyee (a sister website to Tenso) to purchase from Yahoo auctions and had a reasonably positive experience - no complaints and everything went quite smoothly. Between fromjapan and Buyee, I have been continuing to use Buyee because I find their interface easier to use. Click here to see what I won for my first order and a short review/intro on Buyee. For all posts related to Yahoo auctions purchases check here.

You should consider using an in-store shopping service if the item you want is sold out online (and you don't think it will restock), the item you will not be sold online, there's a novelty item you want that isn't offered online, and/or you know you want to buy authentic. It is typically pricier to use a shopping service rather than a forwarding service, but that's because there is extra work involved.
Other businesses that provide similar services are certainly out there and available, such as fromJapan and White Rabbit Express, but they essentially work pretty similar to Tenso, and I cannot personally speak to their reliability, so I won't go any further. If you have used either of these services (or any other) and have a full review, feel free to leave a link in the comments :)

  Tokyo Otaku Mode (TOM)
https://otakumode.com/fb/7L7
Links: TOM Premium Shop - TOM J-fashion section - Emiii's recommended products
If you want to order authentic, current season Liz Lisa items from a country outside of Japan and have them shipped directly to your (international) home address, your choices used to be very limited. Thankfully, there is now another alternative that I can trust. Tokyo Otaku Mode (TOM) used to mostly focus on the anime/manga/figure market, but have now expanded to include a number of Japanese fashion brands including Liz Lisa!
If I’m honest, I had a lot of apprehension about this company when I first heard about it. I mean…otaku mode? What’s up with that? But once I mostly got over the name and looked at what they have to offer, I softened a bit, especially noticing the advantages to ordering from this website. At first glance, admittedly, the prices don’t seem great. But when considering the current exchange rate for full price items and that there are a number of promotional discounts and coupons that TOM offers including FREE international shipping, there are definitely occasions where you will come out ahead.
When I’m contemplating a purchase from Liz Lisa, I always want to consider my options carefully and try to make the best decision. My first choice is always Tokyo Kawaii Life because it’s the official webshop for Liz Lisa. But because I have to use a forwarding service with added fees, that isn’t always the best choice financially especially for heavier items like shoes or bags. While the base price for a full price item is likely very comparable between TKL and TOM, you will be saving money by purchasing through TOM because if you reach the $100 minimum order or are a first time customer, you will be eligible for free international shipping!
To more efficiently illustrate the difference between ordering one pair of shoes from TKL (with Tenso) and TOM, here’s a simple table:
(note: free international shipping is contingent on being a first time customer from TOM or meeting a $100 minimum order total)
For the same product and services, you could be paying $38 less!  Because international shipping rates/fees with Tenso vary by weight, the number can change a little depending on what you order, so the $38 savings is not a standard amount. You should definitely examine what you are ordering and consider which option is best for you!
TOM pros: English interface, varied payment options (including PayPal), free international shipping option, payment currency in USD
TOM cons:  The items cannot be shipped to/within Japan. They don’t have the full Liz Lisa catalog and stock is limited. The cost of items are comparably pricey if they are on sale at other webshops (like TKL).
If you’re trying to decide between choosing TKL or TOM to order Liz Lisa, here are some things to consider - (If your answer to the question is yes, consider using the webshop with the check mark)
Since I primarily buy items from Liz Lisa on sale, I anticipate that I will still be purchasing from TKL myself quite a bit but TOM will definitely be an option to consider for any full price item, especially shoes. However, I also don’t mind that TKL operates in Japanese and charges my credit card in JPY and I have no problems using a forwarding service.  If you want a website in English that charges in USD and want to pay with PayPal and will ship the item directly to you without an intermediary business, then TOM is definitely worth your time.
If you are a first time customer with TOM, please use my referral link to get $5 voucher for your first order of $30 or more when you sign up for an account!
Want more information about my affiliation with TOM and why I decided to partner with them? Check out this blog post here!
(This section was added on 04/29/2016)

  Customs fees
"What Is A Customs Duty?" <-- click for more information
I want to preface this by saying I only have experience and knowledge (however limited) about U.S. duty/customs fees. If you want more specific information, you should do some reasearch yourself about your own country because information about this should be available online. For example, this page from U.S. Customs and Border Protection about "Internet Purchases" and this one about "Determining Duty Rates".

Customs fees are worst. A lot of people who buy internationally just as much or more than me have never been required to pay customs fees. What really irritates me about it is that there's no consistency. I can never predict when I'm going to get hit with fees or even how much they will be if my package is searched. If anyone ever tells you that you won't get charged customs fees if your package is valued under $XXX (whatever amount), that's a lie. If someone tells you you'll be charged 10% of your declared item value, that's a lie. If someone tells you the size of the package is what matters the most, I'm pretty sure that's a lie too.
I once got charged at a rate of 28% because my package contained "ladies blouse". Wtf is that supposed to mean and why do ladies' blouses get taxed so much?? Unfortunately that's just how it is and if I want my packages, and customs has checked it, I need to pay up regardless of whether I agree with the assessment or not. There are instructions on the back of the receipt that kind of tell you how to appeal it, but when I questioned the ladies blouse rate, I was basically told "that's the determination they made" without much other explanation. That wasn't even really an explanation at all. Obviously that's the determination they made? I want to know why?? There isn't a lot of transparency, and it seems like they either charge on a whim or it just really depends on the person or the person's mood that day.
I think I get hit particularly hard in Hawaii as compared to other US states. It might be Hawaii's location (international port in the Pacific), but it's hard to make a generalization because it's pretty particular to your local customs office. Some people are "lucky". Some people are not. The only semi-pattern that I noticed is that almost every time I have something listed as "Bag" on my customs declaration, it gets checked. They're usually bigger orders, but nothing over $300 worth. This does mean that I will probably stop ordering bags internationally. Or know that I will probably get charged because it says "Bag". Customs are definitely an issue I consider when I purchase fukubukuro because I'm already paying a bundle to just ship the item and then I know I will have to reserve some money on the side if I actually want to receive the package.
When it comes to customs fees, my advice is to keep at least $50 on the side *just in case*. I hope that you will never have to use it, but I would hate for the post office to return your package because you weren't able to pay for it, and then you would have paid for items and shipping for items that you will never receive.
[I'd like to humbly ask that you please kindly refrain from making any comments on this post like - "Oh I never get hit with customs, and I live in blahblahblah area too, so you shouldn't worry about them either!" LBR, unless you or your dad or whoever works for the customs office in your area, that's not something you should really be saying because you can't promise that. I added this section because I feel like you don't often see the "truth" about customs fees. Forums, etc are majority filled with "oh it was no problem. I got my $20,000 watch just fine" or "it's only for importers who bring in more than $1000 of the same thing" and shiz like that. It gives people a false sense of security and then what happens if they somehow happened to get charged and don't have enough money if they want to get their package and also pay their rent? And plus you bragging about never paying customs and telling others that it's nothing makes me feel sick considering how much I've had to fork over myself on just simple personal shopping. (It's not like I have a business or anything where I can resell at a certain price and recoup the money or am buying like 11 of the same outfit.) 
For the record, I don't think everyone will or should get hit with fees, I just don't want misinformation spread please. It's okay, of course, to share your own experiences, but please don't imply that everyone else's experience should/will the same unless you will pay the fees if you're wrong.]

  Fukubukuro/new year's lucky packs
 
original source link for the photos was here, but the section has since been removed.
I have a series of blog posts about fukubukuro here (you may want to start with the oldest posts and then move forward).
Lol, there's so much to say, I don't even know where to start. I wasn't originally going to include this section, but fukubukuro sales are coming up (I started writing this post like 2 months ago and now they are actually right around the corner), and I know questions will arise (which is fine because I know it's kind of confusing if you're new to it), so I think it may be quickest just to point people here since there's quite a lot involved.

Let's start from the beginning -
  What are fukubukuro/lucky packs?
Fukubukuro are new year's lucky packs that are only available December - January. [There are various other "happy bag" or "lucky bag" items that they might sell throughout the year, but they are not the same as the fukubukuro sold at new years.] Basically it's a bag that includes a set amount of secret items in it at a certain value being sold for a discounted price (versus retail price/what's listed on the price tag). In the past few years, Liz Lisa has done
  • luggage trunk with 9-10 items as the 20,000yen fukubukuro (items inside valued around 60,000yen and typically include at least 1 coat and 1 OP), 
  • tote bag with 4-5 items as the 10,000yen fukubukuro (items inside valued around 30,000yen and typically include at least 1 coat and 1 OP), and 
  • boston bag with 3 items as the 5,000yen fukubukuro (items inside valued around 15,000yen and typically include 1 OP, a cardigan and an inner). 
For 2015, Liz Lisa has opted to do something a little different. Skip to the 2015 Liz Lisa fukubukuro section to read what details they've released so far.
Edit 12/11/2015: For 2016, Liz Lisa has yet again opted to do something a little different.
  What's inside?
The bag itself is kind of a bonus, and it's the only item you know about when purchasing (because the items inside are a mystery). As far as I know, the items inside the Liz Lisa fukubukuro are manufactured especially for it and are not just old stock that they couldn't sell. (It may be different for some of the packs that the physical stores sell, but regardless you are getting goods are an incredibly marked down price.) **This was different for the 2015 web-limited trunk fukubukuro in which many were surprised to find outlet items from AW13 and before**.
In terms of style, the items are made for the climate during which the fukubukuro are sold - so basically winter (in Japan) with knits and long sleeves, although there may be some items that may be appropriate for warmer climates. Don't expect to find summer items/color schemes/prints in there. The main items in the LPs are clothes, and then there is often a small accessory or two like a blanket, small tote, or cosmetic bag in the 10000yen and 20000yen LPs. Clothes are all free size.
I have read valid complaints from some people that the goods in the fukubukuro aren't up to Liz Lisa's usual standards (buttons not sewn well or material cheaper than usual). In my experience, that was true for a few items in the past, but definitely not ALL. There are some places on items where I felt like maybe they cut some corners so as to reduce the cost of manufacturing the items as they are being sold at a price much under market value, and tbh I understand and am forgiving of this sort of thing but not everyone is. The design of all the items is definitely true to the Liz Lisa aesthetic though. (Edit 12/11/2015 - With the recent increase in price for the bags with less content items, I personally feel that the quality of the items in the bags has improved.)
2015 fukubukuro information, specifics and sample reveals here. The above pictures in this section were sample reveals of the 2014 fukubukuro that were available through VENT Online Store (currently Tokyo Kawaii Life).
[Please note that when you see a reveal, it is only an example of what you might receive - not a fact. The 2014 sample reveal pictures were released on December 20, 2013. For comparison pictures between the 2014 sample reveals and what customers received, please see my "Liz Lisa 2014 Fukubukuro Recap" post. I feel like if you pre-order early from the online shop, it is likely that you will get what's in the sample reveal based on 2014 experience, but again, I can't guarantee that. See also: "Liz Lisa 2015 Fukubukuro Recap" and "Liz Lisa 2016 Fukubukuro Recap"]

  How can I get one (online/since I am not in Japan)?
There are three methods (that I am personally aware of) to get Liz Lisa fukubukuro over the internet.
  1. ordering it yourself direct from Tokyo Kawaii Life (pre-order) or other authorized Japanese retailer like 109net shop, FashionWalker, etc
  2. hire a shopping service to visit the store for you
  3. Tokyo Otaku Mode (edit 04/29/2016, more information to follow in Dec 2016)
In 2014, Tokyo Kawaii Life opened orders for fukubukuro starting on November 30, 2013 for pre-order only. The check out process is the same as for a regular order from TKL, but your items will not be shipped until around or after January 1 as they are specifically new year's items. If it's the same as the past two years, the fukubukuro will ship within Japan (to your forwarding service address) for free. You will still need a forwarding service to receive your items within Japan from TKL and then process your international shipment to your country as TKL does not ship overseas.
[Need help ordering from Tokyo Kawaii Life? Check out my tutorial post.]
Besides the three options pictured at the beginning of this section (the brown Rich Vintage Rose Carry, Classical ribbon tote and boston), there were also other several other Liz Lisa fukubukuro that were available in 2014 - the Heartful Monogram tote and boston, and two additional trunk designs (limited 109 blue floral and the Liz Lisa x My Melody collab). These were only available for purchase at Liz Lisa store locations. [Please click here for information about Liz Lisa 2015 fukubukuro specifics. Please click here for information about Liz Lisa 2016 fukubukuro specifics as released.] I'm pretty sure that every year there will be some LPs that will have in-store-only availability. It is possible to get your hands on these in-store-only fukubukuro from overseas, but you will need a shopping service that is willing to work during the holiday (LPs go on sale January 1).
http://emiiichan.blogspot.com/2014/01/liz-lisa-x-my-melody-collaboration.html
I was able to get the Liz Lisa x My Melody collab fukubukuro by using Tokyo Pirates shopping service and reserving early as fukubukuro are in high demand, and shopping services that are willing to work in short supply. Lines are known to be very long at popular stores, and even if you show up, you are not guaranteed to get the item you want. There are several stores that did an early release of some of the LPs this past year around the time the reveals were released, but you definitely will need to know in advance if you want to get something because they sell out the limited number for early release quite quickly. If you plan to be in Japan during this time or are planning on hiring a shopping service, my advice is to (have your service) talk to the shop staff at the store you/they are planning on visiting ahead of time and follow the shop's blog for more information about specifics.
Of course, you can also hire a shopping service for lucky packs that are not in-store-only limited, but personally I would only hire one for in-store LPs because it's typically cheaper to order them yourself if you can.
I have personally used both methods (TKL pre-order +Tenso, shopping service) to order fukubukuro in the past. Please see my "Analysis of my 2013 Liz Lisa fukubukuro" post for my pros and cons of ordering from both VENT/now TKL and MARUQ (Edit 12/11/2015: note that MARUQ is no longer doing fukubukuro sales) and my "Tokyo Pirates shopping service review" post for more information about the ss process.  I would only suggest using a shopping service for fukubukuro if you want one of the in-store LPs. And even then, note that just because you reserve a shopping service doesn't automatically mean you will get one if the lines are long and especially if the LP you want is very popular and in limited supply.

   How much is international shipping for fukubukuro?
If you are ordering and any of the fukubukuro online and shipping internationally, you probably want to know about shipping cost. If you are ordering from TKL and using Tenso as a forwarding service with EMS shipping, expect to pay around 14630yen for shipping + fees for a trunk carry LP (based on last year's weight and Tenso's new rates). Tenso now has more shipping options so there may be a cheaper shipping option if you don't mind waiting a bit longer for your package to arrive although the service fee is adjusted a bit now as well. Weight will be around 7200g. Check out Tenso's new fee estimation tool here.

You will have to declare the items/cost yourself when the package arrives at Tenso. Although it's important to note that the amount you declare will affect how much are you are charged if you must pay customs fees, there is no single correct answer for this, and you should declare it how you think is best. If you have further questions about this, considering reading this answered ask here.
I have collected other shipping information from people who received 2014 Liz Lisa fukubukuro that can be found here in my "Liz Lisa 2014 Fukubukuro Recap" post. It seems like 2015 fukubukuro will be a bit different so I'm not sure how much it will help, but I think checking that out is better than going in completely blind. I would set aside at least $120 if you're planning on buying any of the larger fukubukuro and shipping with EMS just to be safe (maybe a bit more for the fuku with more items though because that obviously means more weight).
*Update* "Liz Lisa 2015 Fukubukuro Recap" post published here with a few pieces of shipping information for 2015's specific fukubukuro.
Please also be aware that you should also consider customs fees to be a possible expense when shipping internationally!

   That sounds like too much trouble. Isn't there any other way for me to get in on this?
If you don't want to order a fukubukuro because it's too much of a hassle and too heavy of a cost all at once, chances are not everyone who orders will be happy with the contents of theirs, and you will probably be able to scoop some of the pieces up individually. Keep an eye out for that in January, but in an effort to shop smart, please watch out for people who are hiking up the prices (trying to profit from the cheap price of the LP but marketing the items are the retail price listed on the tag) because you will probably be able to find someone with the same item but more reasonably priced somewhere else. If you are only interested in the suitcase/bag but not the contents, there are typically far less people willing to sell those, but there are always some. As there is no set value/tags placed on the bags that the LP items come in, it's hard to say what's a "good price" to pay for them, but only you know how much you're willing to pay for it. Although fukubukuro are offered every year, the print and sometimes design of the bags will almost certainly be at least slightly different, so they are considered to be a bit more "limited edition" to that particular year.
I noticed recently (in the last few months of 2014) that Tokyo Kawaii Life has had the individual items from a number of the fukubukuro from 2015, 2014, and even 2013, for sale in the Outlet Section. They didn't officially announce that, so you kind of had to take the time to look for them. But they're there, and they're listed at an outlet price. This is an option, but I wouldn't bank money on them doing it every single year - I feel like it's probable, but not a guarantee. Sometimes they will have some fuku contents but not all. Also, you'd be waiting months to even see if the items would list. It's a great option if you missed out on something and were dying to find someone reselling it earlier in the year but couldn't. (Note: the bags were not listed - just some of the content items.)
 Note: I may make edits to this section as fukubukuro sales information is released (each year).

   2015 Liz Lisa fukubukuro
Liz Lisa 2015 fukubukuro BLOG POST PUBLISHED NOW. Some basics while you're here in this post: There were 5 different types of lucky packs for 2015 -
  • 30,000yen (in-store only) Liz Lisa x My Melody collaboration trunk carry - 9 items
  • 25,000 yen (web limited) rose ribbon embossed trunk carry - 6 items (OUTLET ITEMS)
  • 20,000 yen pink or white big tote - 5 items
  • 15,000 yen striped rose mini trunk carry - 3 items (also in 109 limited color)
  •  5,000 yen 3-way bag - 2 items
This is a bit different than what they did for 2013 and 2014 as listed in the first section, so I was excited to see what changes they've decided to initiate.
Online pre-order (through TKL) began on Dec 1 at (around) 12:00 according to the website. Additionally, you will get free shipping (domestic) if you order before Dec 8 extended to Jan 5. If you order before Dec 8 at 10:00am, you will get a coupon for 20% off to be used in January. If you order the 25000yen web limited fukubukuro before Dec 8 at 10:00am, you will get 500 points.
Please sign up for Tokyo Kawaii Life emails or follow them on Twitter and/or subscribe on Facebook for the most up-to-date information! Please check out my Liz Lisa 2015 Fukubukuro blog post for more photos and info including reveal photos!

   2016 Liz Lisa fukubukuro
Liz Lisa 2016 fukubukuro BLOG POST PUBLISHED NOW (as of Tokyo Kawaii Life releases.) Some basics while you're here in this post: There were 3 different types of lucky packs for 2016 available on TKL -
  • 25,000 yen (TKL limited) Premium My Melody tote - 6 items
  • 15,000 yen Rose ribbon tote - 3 items (sweet and casual variation)
  •  5,000 yen 3-way bag - 2 items (sweet and casual variation) 
This is certainly a change from the recent offerings in past years. At the moment, there is no luggage/suitcase fukubukuro option. This is also the first year that there is a My Melody collaboration fukubukuro sold through TKL/online as well and it is exclusive to them (not being sold through other affiliated online retailers like 109 or FashionWalker). It has not yet been announced what (if any) the in-store fukubukuro options will be.
Online pre-order (through TKL) began on Dec 11 at (around) 21:00 and only two bags could be added to your cart at a time. If you wanted to order more than what was allowed, you needed to make more than one order. Check out my related blog posts for more information!

   2017 Liz Lisa fukubukuro
Liz Lisa 2017 Liz Lisa fukubukuro BLOG POST PUBLISHED NOW. As of Dec 13, 2016, a few details  have been released from Liz Lisa officially about the # of bags and cost -
  • 30,000yen Liz Lisa x My Melody collaboration suitcase - 7 items
  • 10,000yen tote lucky pack - 4 items
Tokyo Kawaii Life preorders for fukubukuro will be open on Dec 16 at approximately 19:00. Please subscribe to TKL emails or follow TKL/Liz Lisa on social media for the most up-to-date information or check back to my Liz Lisa 2017 blog post which I will do my best to update.

 
  Taobao
Taobao is kind of like the Chinese version of eBay. They do not ship outside of China so you will need a Chinese shopping service/agent to purchase. I'm not going to mention any specific shops because I'm just not familiar with enough of them and don't want business pulled or pushed toward any in particular. 
If you care about buying authentic, my advice is to stay away from Taobao. Some people may be under the impression that some "stores" on Taobao manufacture authentic Liz Lisa product. I seriously talked to someone who was dead set on their Liz Lisa items from Taobao being legitimate. They had admitted that some were fake but these were real/special and blah blah blah. I don't even know how that can be the case...If someone has solid and matter-of-fact evidence that a Taobao store is consistently selling authentic Liz Lisa items, please do share. In my mind, when I try to reason it out, I think, why would Liz Lisa try to sell their authentic products from a random Taobao shop in China at prices much less than they are selling to their average Japanese customer who visits the store? And even if this was the case, why don't they ever advertise it? Is it meant to be a Chinese secret? ???
Or, why would a seller buy real Liz Lisa (at full price because I'm pretty sure they don't sell it wholesale at a discount) and then resell it at a reduced price? How does that even make sense? I might be more inclined to trust a seller if the item in question is on sale for 50% off on TKL and they are selling it on Taobao at a price that is only 40% off (so it seems like there is still a "deal" because they are selling "authentic" for less than retail). That situation makes much more sense for the item to simply be a(n authentic) resale item in contrast to seeing an item that is priced at like $20 on Taobao that was $56 at TKL. I hope I explained that right. Basically I just think about what's common sense for a business. How could a business survive if they are paying for real Liz Lisa and selling it at a price that is significantly less than what they bought it for? This is besides the items that obviously have a fake looking label or are made of lesser quality materials - both of which you can't always tell from the "stock photos" on Taobao, especially because a lot of the time they are using stock photos from Tokyo Kawaii Life which they obviously did not take themselves.
All that being said, I have made one purchase from Taobao in the past and do own 5 replica items. It was back when I had first started on Tumblr and had just found out about it. Tbh, it really seemed that everyone was doing it, so I might as well try it too. Yeah, I do realize how stupid that sounds, and it's a pretty poor excuse. I wasn't yet blogging when I ordered, so I'll leave a short blurb about my experience here.
I used TaobaoSpree as my shopping agent, and I was happy with their service - basically no complaints. You download the excel spreadsheet from their website and fill it out with the urls of the items you want + quantity and color and stuff. After you submit it to them, they will fill in the rest of it appropriately and check that everything seems correct. I don't remember the specifics about when I paid what, but nothing was out of the ordinary, and communication was quick. I purchased 3 dresses, a short sleeve jacket and a bag charm (knowing that I would be receiving replicas).
http://emiii-chan.tumblr.com/post/30216009532/items-i-got-from-taobao
[Tumblr post with  pictures of items minus the jacket here.] 
Top left dress - I don't even know if Liz Lisa even produced something like this. It might have just been marketed as "Liz Lisa" style because of the floral print. Quality was okay. I don't wear it often. Top right dress - what I was most pleased with in the order although the accent pieces are not great quality and neither is the fabric - typical replica. However the design is pretty (ofc because I'm pretty sure Liz Lisa did actually make this one). I like to wear it when I want to wear light colors/this style but don't want to have to worry about getting it dirty or ruining it. (Basically that's what replicas are good for if anything imo.) Bag charm was fine but the "metal" parts rusted really fast and smells like cheap metal and the pom pom was made out of cheap material as well. I think it cost like $3 so you get what you pay for. Bottom right dress is a little short and the hem is not completely even especially in the back. Print is a little wonky in some places. Another typical replica dress. The quality of the jacket was not great. Sewn fine but definitely wasn't over-the-top happy with it and zipper made of super cheap metal and doesn't run extraordinarily well.
I guess looking back, I'm glad I tried purchasing (replicas) from Taobao at least once, so I never have to wonder about it, but I don't plan on ordering "Liz Lisa" items from there ever again. 1. Because I wised up and realized that I don't want to support those businesses over the actual company and 2. Because I wasn't impressed with the quality (which is hit or miss based on the shop but just not something I would prefer to gamble on). I'm often tempted when I see a dress that I missed out on because it sold out before I was able to purchase, but I try to stay strong in my resolve to support Liz Lisa itself. Like I kind mentioned in my "Liz Lisa (early) Autumn 2014" post with some picture examples, if you miss out on something and it was popular, chances are it will come back the next year in a slightly altered version. You may even like the slightly altered version better. So, if you want to support the brand and not the counterfeiters, all hope might not be lost if you can wait a season or two.
At the beginning I mentioned that I didn't want to push or pull customers to or from any particular store, but recently I found out about a Taobao shop that has used my personal photos in one of their listings and has plastered their watermark all over and especially on my face as if they solely own the images. (In fact, I am the copyright holder and owner of these photos and they should not be used in this way without my permission.) This is upsetting to me for a number of reasons, especially because I personally do not profit from blogging or any of the photos I take and this business is using my images for free to make money themselves. I go into a more detailed explanation here if you're interested. I would like to kindly ask that readers not support the taobao shop "fairy-cat". They participate in extremely disrespectful and unethical business practices and don't seem to include any of their own original photos of the items they sell. My blog was not mentioned anywhere in the listing for credit, and it is obvious by the amount of watermarking they did that they think they should now control these images which they truly do not have any rights to. In total, they stole 8 of my photos. Image on the right shows an example of my personal photos from my blog post in the top row and the photos they used and watermarked to hell in the middle with a screenshot of the listing on the bottom. Please stay away from businesses/shops like this.

  Back to top ^^ 


  Secondhand sales (outside Japan)
ebay.com
storenvy.com
http://gyaru-com-sales.livejournal.com/
In general, I am very, very wary of purchasing "Liz Lisa" items from eBay, storenvy, LJ gyaru sales, FB sellers and anything like it. In fact, I'm so picky that I have not bought anything from anyone on any of these sites that I didn't already know/have a previous conversation with. Again, I would like to acknowledge that there are probably a lot of things I care about when buying (secondhand) that many others do not.
I'm bunching these together because they're basically filled with individual secondhand sellers. There are a few "businesses" on storenvy, FB or eBay that are buying specifically to resell, but it's still secondhand imo because it's not coming direct from the brand.
One of my issues is that I don't automatically trust that the seller knows the difference between replica and authentic. I don't think it's even safe to assume that the seller knows that replica Liz Lisa even exists. And then there are the sellers who do know they aren't buying authentic (importing from taobao or elsewhere), but aren't marketing their product as replica...I try to stay as far way from those shops as possible - even their non "Liz Lisa" items, because I really don't want my money to go to a business that is more about their profit than being upfront and completely honest with their customer. I just can't/won't/don't trust the sellers enough to want to even put $1 their way to see what's up. I've literally seen someone claim an item to be "AUTHENTIC LIZ LISA" and the tag didn't even say Liz Lisa or a slight variant on it...I've also seen people hardcore claiming an item is authentic that I know none of the stores had and that wasn't sold online. If an item is/was a very popular replica, I probably don't want to go anywhere near it. Tbh being on these sites sometimes gives me too much of a headache because I think about all the people that are being cheated out of money by greedy liars (intentional lies or not), and I get too upset.
Please also be aware that items called "runover" or "overrun" are probably not not necessarily authentic product regardless of description. I personally would have a really hard time making a judgement without seeing the garment/product in front of me - looking for defects (the reason it wasn't sent to Liz Lisa instead if they are truly overruns) or something akin to that. I would also say that "same as authentic" =/= authentic. A lot of replicas are the "same as" authentic pieces in terms of print and design but they are still not authentic product. Liz Lisa does have outlet stores that I would expect to sell their excess, but I do not have authorized knowledge (as stated in beginning), so I can't say for sure either way. What I can say is to please think about it and do not automatically assume. I do not personally purchase "Liz Lisa" products that do not have tags or that are called "overruns" or "runover" because I don't really think they are authorized. Especially considering this -
http://www.salehoo.com/glossary/factory-overruns
If the seller (or seller to the seller) has done something to weasel their way out of trademark infringement, Liz Lisa is probably not happy with that, and I don't really want to support someone/a business that practices in that way and directly against a business I DO want to support.
Another reason I don't usually purchase from the abovementioned places, besides my distrust of many of the sellers, is that I don't want to gamble too much money on it. I would be willing to do $30 or less (shipping no more than $7ish) for an item that I'm interested in after reviewing the details and messaging with the seller, but I would not personally give $50, much less $80-90, to a stranger I don't know for a product I can't possibly validate is authentic over the internet based only on the seller's word.
I'm also kind of a cheapskate, and there are some Liz Lisa items I see on these sites that I do believe to be authentic, but I'm not willing to pay what the seller is asking. It's not hard to guess what the retail price of the items are (they're pretty standard although prices have gone up in the last year), and considering some items may have been used, I don't want to pay anything close to retail for most of them. I also recognize some of the items being sold from the outlet section or know that they were recently part of a big sale on TKL, so I can tell if the person is selling for profit. Well, there are all kinds of reasons a seller might price their items the way they do (hey, maybe it's not for profit but they had to pay a huge shipping fee or something), but regardless, that's typically why I turn those down for myself - basically because I don't feel like it's a good deal.
[Note: For sellers I do know and trust from Tumblr/the internet or who I have a friendly relationship with, I would be more than willing to pay what I think the item is worth up to retail price. So I'm not saying that secondhand goods should be dirt cheap (because tbh if it's TOO cheap that's another red flag), just that there's only so much I'm willing to gamble on a product from someone with whom I am not familiar.] I might be missing out on some "good deals" but most of the time, I'd rather keep my money close to home and spend it at TKL where I know what I'm getting.

Btw, although I have not bought strangers on eBay, Storenvy etc., I have bought from a random person on Tumblr who just made a small sales post and tagged it with #liz lisa which is how I saw it. It was $35 for a set of an OP, cover up and matching cloth bag and pouch AND 3-day shipping with tracking.
That seemed like a good deal for used items even if it was replicas imo because shipping was included. I didn't really want anything but the OP, but for that all inclusive price, why not? I emailed to ask about place of purchase, and the seller replied right away. She didn't have a receipt but did include pictures of herself in the store and the month, year of purchase without me having to prompt her, and I was sold. + She wanted the payment through PayPal. The condition of the items was definitely used especially the bag, but I washed it before wearing it and treat it kind of like my replica dresses where I don't overly care if I accidentally stain it or take it to the beach or whatever. Do I 100% know for a fact that the items are authentic? No (I'm more like 99% sure). Am I okay with it regardless? Yes. Overall, a very satisfactory transaction, but, of course, by no means indicative of all transactions that will go on through Tumblr. For me, the reason this purchase was worth making was 1. the price, 2. seller communication, 3. seller openness and willingness to provide proof of authenticity, 4. PayPal method of payment. These are basically the 4 factors that help me make secondhand sales decisions.

  On the topic of replicas
Is this item authentic or a replica?
An item is only guaranteed to be authentic if you are buying directly from the Official Webshop (tokyokawaiilife.jp) or from an authorized Liz Lisa store (locations listed here and now includes authorized online retailers). If you do not trust a secondhand seller/other retailer to tell you the truth, please not to buy/support them! It is often very hard to distinguish a replica from an authentic piece online, and there's no for sure method to figuring it out.
  • - From the Tokyo Kawaii Life FAQ page: 他のサイトやオークションで販売されている商品は本物でしょうか?正 規取扱ではない通販サイトやオークションサイトでの当ブランド商品の販売に関しては、本物か偽物かの確認等、当社では一切の保障や責任を追う事が出来ませ ん.また、最近では特に海外のサイトで、当ブランドと偽って、類似商品を販売している悪質な業者が見られます。当社でもそういった悪質業者の調査や取締に 努めておりますが、お客様ご自身でもご注意いただきますよう、お願いいたします。
  • - Google translation - Products that are sold in auction sites or other or would be real? With respect to sales of the brand product of auction sites and mail order sites that are not in the regular handling, confirmation of whether real or fake, not able to follow the responsibility and security of all in us.In addition, the site of particularly overseas, malicious contractor falsely with the brand, sells similar products can be seen in recent years. But we’re working on investigation and enforcement of such malicious business in our company, but to have you be careful on your own, thank you. 
Also direct screenshot from the bottom of the Tralala official website (05/07/2015:
  • - The text reads: "LIZLISA・LIZLISA doll・Tralala・Penderieの偽物にご注意ください。当社の正規商品はショップリストに記載されている直営店と通販サイト、および期間限 定で行われる催事会場でのみの販売となっております。基本的に上記以外で正規の新品が販売されることはありません。"
  • - Google translation: Please note imitation of LIZLISA · LIZLISA doll · Tralala · Penderie. Our regular product is only sold in the fairground to be performed in retail stores and mail order site, and the limited time that is described in the shop list. There is no basically that legitimate new is sold in other than the above.
Let me just say that I don't have a problem with people who simply own replicas. That's your own kuleana and none of mine - it's none of my business why you buy them, how many you have or what you do with them. However, I do get really irritated when you're taking over the #liz lisa tag with all of it and talking about how "cheap" it is and how great replicas are and how buying authentic is a waste of money because you can get it for XXXX amount somewhere else but you absolutely LOVE Liz Lisa and whatever. First of all, if you're not buying Liz Lisa, there's no reason to tag it as #liz lisa. You aren't supporting the brand regardless of your blatant love for it. In fact, you're practically helping tear it down by feeding counterfeit businesses, so why should you get to profit (attention, notes, followers, etc) by using the tag/the name? Second of all, there are all sorts of reasons why people shop the way they do. I prefer to buy authentic so I can support LIZ LISA - the brand that is coming up with the designs that others are ripping off, so to me it's not a waste of money to support it. Are replicas an option? Yes. Do I own replicas? Yes. Will I try and resell them as authentic pieces or at authentic retail prices? No. Will I brag about how much I "saved" by buying replicas? No. Will I encourage people to buy only from Taobao and not Tokyo Kawaii Life (official online shop for Liz Lisa)? No.
Liz Lisa is not a HUGGEEEE worldwide company/luxury brand like, say, Louis Vuitton. Here's how I see it - the price difference between buying from Taobao (and using a forwarding or shopping agent) and buying during sales at Tokyo Kawaii Life (and using a forwarding or shopping service) is not THAT different. The amount you spend can often be very close if not the same if you buy during a really great sale but the quality is often different. It's not like the price difference between buying a $30 knock off LV bag on the streets versus the $2500+ real thing. Although the retail price of many Liz Lisa OPs are around $94-99, during a 50% sale, you getting it for around $50. That's a quality product from the brand you claim you love with no known defects for $50 + shipping. If you decide not to ship with EMS, buying from TKL can be even cheaper (although slower and maybe a bit riskier if you choose a different service without tracking). Imo, that's really not that bad (it's not CHEAP, but it's not scary-omfg-wtf-huge-rip-off expensive). A similar replica dress with unknown but probably lesser quality and possible defects that is counterfeit and therefore possibly illegal might sell for $35 on Taobao. However, I do know that that $15 really matters to some people. (Are these the same people that are touting Taobao and bashing TKL? Not necessarily, but that's beside the point.)
If you prefer quantity over quality and brand support, then I see why Taobao/buying replica is an easy choice. But what I'm trying to say, and what a lot of people don't know for whatever reason, is that TKL and Liz Lisa will have really good sales that pull the prices for authentic items direct from the brand way, way down to be more comparable to Taobao prices but for much better product.
   Back to top ^^

If you are unsure about a product (esp for secondhand sales), don't just assume the best - message the seller!
  Questions to ask the seller (only if the seller does not already openly provide this information. Please read all information provided by the seller before messaging them. It will save you both a lot of time and trouble) -
  • Additional pictures. You should see more than just stock photos they found on the internet, especially if the stock photos have some other business's watermark splashed all over it. Note that pictures of the item that aren't stock photos may also not necessarily be the sellers (but something taken from a blogger or something similar). If you are really suspicious of a seller, ask for a proof photograph with the seller's name or something similar in the photo with the item in question.
  • If the description mentions a flaw (no matter how small), ask to see pictures of the defect.
  • Do not assume the item is authentic, but I would not advise directly asking "Is this fake?" which is kind of abrupt. Ask for origin of purchase (in store - what store? or online - what website?) and approximate date. If they don't know the exact date of purchase, ask if they know what season and year the item is from (ex. Summer 2012). These are facts I like to provide/have ready on hand as a seller myself and shouldn't be too hard to come up with.
  • You may want to consider asking for measurements depending on the item and how free size usually fits you. I don't often ask for measurements because I'm pretty familiar with Liz Lisa's free size but in lieu of that, I do often ask if the seller has any pictures of the item being worn (by the seller) unless it is new with tags/never worn. 
  • For shoes - Ask to see the bottoms/soles, especially to clarify size and evidence of wear
  • For clothes - Ask to see the inside care tag. If the item is used, consider asking what method they used to wash the garment.  
  • Clarify shipping specifics and estimated date of arrival to your specific location
In general, it's good to be polite, especially if there's no reason to be rude. Treat the seller with the respect that you would like to be treated with in return, and do not just come out, guns blazing, with accusations.
You don't need to ask all these questions at once. It may be good to start with just a few basics that are really important to you in going forward with the purchase, and then based on the seller's response (and response time), continue to ask for further clarification or reply in the negative with something like, "Thank you for this information, but I am no longer interested at this time."
Example for an initial inquiry I might send for an eBay listing that I'm interested in -
(a not-very-important-but-I-guess-I'll-mention-it note: I did not actually send this email. I meant to, but later saw something that made me change my mind about this item, so I don't have any actual follow up for this message.)
If the seller is responsive and cordial in their response after this email, I may continue to ask a few more questions about specifics or more photos. I never intend to accuse the seller of intentionally selling replica under the guise of authenticity or ignorance of knowing about the status of their item. I merely want to know this information so I can shop as smart as I can for myself.

  Red Flags
Factors that set off alarms and alerts that will convince me not to purchase from a particular seller/business.
  • Seller doesn't respond to emails within 48 hours - indicates how long they will take to process your order, and in general the availability of the seller/what priority they place on their shop. Bad communication is also not ideal if you have a problem/issue with the purchase or need to make an urgent change.
  • Only uses stock photos, with 0 personal photos and
  • Won't send you additional pictures
  • Uses only Taobao pictures to advertise an "authentic" item
  • Refuses to give you measurements when you ask
  • Can't provide any specific information about origin or date of purchase or season/year when the item was produced or
  • Claims items are "from Japan" but won't provide any further specifics
  • Insists on shipping without a tracking number and won't accept PayPal. Paying with PayPal is often the best option for you as a customer because you will be able to file a dispute within the allotted time period if you don't receive your goods or there is a problem with your transaction. PayPal protects the buyer.
  • This is a personal thing, but I never want to patronize businesses where the owner/seller puts their shop's watermark on a Liz Lisa/other stock photo/not-their-own-original photo. The photo doesn't suddenly belong to the (re)seller because they are selling the same item. What gives you the right to place your freaking watermark all over something that you aren't responsible for? Put a million watermarks all over the photos you take/manufacture YOURSELF, but do not try to claim ownership for something that you had nothing to do with. Please. You aren't the photographer. You aren't the business that hired and paid the photographer and model. You're not affiliated with the business and didn't get permission to plaster your personal watermark on the photo. You're not even the model. You don't own the photo. You don't solely own the rights to use the photo. Do not make it seem like you do. That is shady and greedy, and I hate it. Maybe I'm just extra sensitive because I've had someone take advantage of a personal photos of mine before and think just because they "discovered" the photo and are going to repost it, they have some sort of right to it. To be clear, they don't. It has happened in the past with businesses that weren't trying to sell Liz Lisa, and recently it has happened in a very big way with a taobao shop intentionally plastering their url all over 8 of my photos and in particular my face. [Read more about that here if you're keen, and I also mentioned it at the end of the Taobao section as well.] It's makes me upset that someone is trying to profit off of something I don't even get money from and am sharing just because I love it. Okay I digress, but it's a big issue for me. 
  • (already discussed in previous section) Item is described as "overrun" or "runover" and also described as "authentic"
  • Anytime (I feel that) the person is selling replica as authentic or not labelled as replica regardless of whether they "know" they are doing it
  • Items are consistently priced way over retail (not really a red flag, but just a huge turn off)
  • eBay feedback less than 98%. Although typically I don't buy from someone unless the feedback is 99.5% or more.


This post is to share how I personally shop and hope it will help others make informed shopping decisions when it comes to buying Liz Lisa/"Liz Lisa" online - NOT to promote/advertise for any particular shops. While I am not an expert on these matters, you are more than welcome to discuss individual shops with me privately though. If you know of a shop that should be blacklisted, go ahead and share that with a thorough explanation.
I tried to cover as much as I could based on questions I've been asked in the past from people with varying levels of experience - from a beginner to someone who wants to know more of the intricate details. Please feel free to ask for clarification or ask questions in general. It may not seem like it (to some people for whatever reason??), but I do actually enjoy helping others order Liz Lisa and especially to make smart shopping decisions regarding those purchases which is why I took the time to create this, the How to Order from Tokyo Kawaii Life post, and many of the informative 2014 fukubukuro posts. And believe me, they do take time, but it's worth it if they will help people make informed decisions while buying cute things, which is the ultimate goal.

DISCLAIMER - Again, this is all just merely my own personal opinion (therefore specifically calling it "Emiii's guide"). By no means am I claiming this to be the be-all, end-all rules of buying Liz Lisa online. I don't claim to have extraordinary, legal or authorized knowledge on the subject. The content of this blog post has been collected through my personal reading, browsing and purchasing.

40 comments:

  1. Okay, wow, we took like, two completely different approaches to this post XD Like... completely different, it's good though :D I think we've literally covered everything together then. XD I linked your post in mine as well now! Not good lie, this took me a while to read XD

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    1. Haha omg I guess now you know why mines was so many words! We definitely took two different approaches and I think that's so great.

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    2. Yep! I was like... how did she write 7000 words? Mines like 2000 what the heck we're writing about the same thing. But no. We were not writing the same thing. At all.

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    3. Haha sorry. I guess I went wayyy more general than you. I guess because as I was writing, I wanted this to turn more into a FAQ page to direct people to after answering the same stuff over and over again lol.

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  2. woooooooow this is a masterpiece. (y)

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  3. Omg! thank you so much! this is so useful!!

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    Replies
    1. I'm so happy you're finding it helpful! I worked really hard on it lol.

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  4. Great and informative post ^^

    I buy from Tokyo Kawaii Life a lot !! I love Liz Lisa style clothing!! Especially their florals.


    恵美より ♥
    www.emi-doll.blogspot.jp

    JOIN MY GIVE AWAY: www.emi-doll.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/463-moo-mooo-moooh-navy-blue-lace-polka.html

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I buy from them quite a bit myself lol. <3

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  5. Thank you for making such a helpful and useful guide!

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    1. No problem! I'm glad people are finding it useful. Please let me know if you have any further/specific questions you'd like me to address, and I'll do my best to help.

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  6. Hello Emi! Your post is really helpful! Thank you very much for all your effort you put on it! >o<

    I remember I've seen it when you posted it, and now I read it again caus I wanted to be sure of some things for Tenso.
    It's been two weeks now they got my package and I waited two weeks for them to reply to me for change my address caus I no longer live at the one I registered with, and you doubt that they needed a proof, again.
    Once done, I selected SAL, but they refund it the next day and noticed me via email, caus the package dimention is too large. And in the past, when they didn't offer all these shipping methods, I always emailed them and asked to ship in SAL, and they always accepted.
    So now, why offer these methods when they refuse the next day? And I didn't know the dimention of the package, they didn't inform us, so how could I know that? lol >_> So I will wait AGAIN the pay back to be sure, and then pay them for ems method, I didn't have choice...

    Well I was just wanted to say that to you, as it's new to choose the shipping method, and maybe no one got these troubles. I think it's not very well done, they didn't inform us about the size of our package, I think they have to do it for us to be sure to select the shipping method we wanted, and not to wait the next day our mail box to see that they didn't accepted it. What a lack of time.

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    1. Hi there. I remember seeing something when I was carefully reviewing Tenso's new options about how they might be giving you the SAL small package option but they might have to end up shipping with SAL international parcel based on the weight and dimensions of the package. It was a small note somewhere that it could possibly happen. I agree that they should probably be checking before asking you to pay.
      I personally haven't had that problem myself but I mostly ship packages on the smaller side that don't come near reaching any dimension restrictions so it's not something I could have the possibility of experiencing so thank you for sharing. I don't work for Tenso and am not affiliated with them in any way but I'm sorry this was such an ordeal for you.

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  7. I am looking for a site which is safe for online shopping in Pakistan and which offers cash on delivery facility at your doorsteps?

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  10. legal or authorized knowledge on the subject. The content of this blog post has been collected through my personal reading, best place to sell online

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  13. I know you said that you only buy from eBay accounts that you've either spoken with the person or you know them, do you have any eBay accounts you would recommend? I'm super scared to buy from eBay just because I don't want to end up with a replica when trying to get authentic LL!

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    1. (American) eBay is just generally not a great place to buy Japanese brand from if you want to get a decent price for what you're receiving. There are a handful of honest people who are just trying to sell their secondhand items but I don't know of any eBay "stores" (people who buy with only the intent to sell) that I would really recommend. Most that I think are popular usually just buy what is already a secondhand item from Japan and then resell it at an inflated price and are often reluctant to even admit that. While the "personality" because the account always appears nice and friendly, that doesn't really mean anything about the true authenticity of the product. eBay is also known to be home to sellers with "authentic" Liz Lisa items "without the label" because it was acquired "direct from the factory". I talked about "factory overrun" product in the post above, but essentially I personally have a huge ethical problem with them being sold and then resold again. It might be technically "authentic" in that the materials used are the same as what might be sold by an official retailer but this is almost always without the brand and designer's permission making it illegal in some places.
      If you do insist on buying from eBay, I would just try and open a line of communication with the seller to see if they will be honest with you about the origin of the product if that information is not already provided. "From Japan" is usually a very vague answer that means there is probably more to their acquisition method that they'd rather not disclose. I understand it from a business stand point but that doesn't make me comfortable as a customer.

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  14. Is purchasing from Maruq authentic/supporting Liz Lisa? They say they work with Liz Lisa and other companies, but I know very little about them. They have clothes that I want that are sold out everywhere else, but I want to be supporting the brand as well as getting authentic clothing.

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    1. omg i somehow missed you talking about maruq sorry lol.

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    2. I'm not personally sure of the specific relationship between MARUQ and Liz Lisa, but I feel confident that they sell authentic product. I know several people who (used to) work there and the Liz Lisa fukubukuro sales that they used to participate in would likely only be possible with product from the actual brand. I don't know if MARUQ is buying pieces in bulk and reselling rather than having a manufacturer - official retailer agreement though, if that makes sense.

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    3. Thank you~~ Would you shop there?

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    4. I'm not opposed to shopping there, but I personally find that prices can be better elsewhere, especially if I just buy from Liz Lisa's official online shop (which is what I do 90% of the time). It depends which items you want, what your budget is, what accommodations you need (language, payment method etc). Essentially the reason I created this blog post is to examine the different ways to purchase Liz Lisa outside of Japan so that interested buyers can make their own educated decisions.

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    5. Thank you so much!!!

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  15. hi i want to know does tokyo kawaii life ship to usa or canada?

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    1. Hi, as it says in the first few sentences of the Tokyo Kawaii Life section, they do not ship internationally! Please take a look at the post <3

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  16. OH!!! so sorry! i must be blind :( sorryyyyyy!
    May i ask are you located in Japan that is why you are able to buy tkl?

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    1. I buy from TKL as an international customer. I am not located in Japan. If you take a look at the small text right below the TKL image, there's a link to how to buy from the website. You can also just go directly to the link I have in the nav bar below my blog banner called "How to Order from Liz Lisa".

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  17. sorry i forgot to add this
    what shopping service can i use to buy from tkl? im based in canada and usa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please consider reading this blog post or the one I mentioned in the previous comment.

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. shop online, like choosing a product from visiting the online store and then making online shopping pakistan payments online. Order can be placed for some products and they are delivered to the door steps of the user and payment can be done by cash.
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    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Emily,
    How would I get the liz Lisa fukubukuro in Japan? When do I go get them, day after New year's? And what time? Are there people waiting in line?

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    1. https://www.lizlisa.com/news/1461
      Each store has different operating hours and likely slightly different guidelines for fukubukuro sales. I would visit or call ahead to the store you're planning to buy from and ask the shop staff there. Fukubukuro are very popular items in Japan and, yes, people do typically wait in line.

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