How to find what you’re searching for on the Japanese second hand market

I tremendously enjoyed my time at the Bay Area Kei pop-up shop. One of my favorite parts was the chance to meet and talk with other lolitas throughout the weekend. I consider myself a fairly new lolita still, with only about 5 years wearing the fashion. There were many people I met throughout the weekend who had collected or worn the fashion for 2 years or less.

In chatting with one of my fellow tea party guests, I mentioned shopping for secondhand brand on Japanese auction sites. She asked how I searched for things in Japanese. Once again, I discovered the diverse ways in which people enjoy lolita fashion! I assumed that everyone knew how to search for second hand Japanese brand the same way that I did. But with western indie brands, Taobao, and local communities, a lolita may never have to search Mercari or Y!JAuctions.  So here’s a quick rundown of how I search for the items I’m looking for on the Japanese second hand market.

Get your search terms.

If you’re a bad j-fashion fan like I am, you don’t speak or read Japanese. This makes it hard to browse sites that use Japanese search terms. Luckily, our helpful community has compiled lists of common clothes, brands, and other useful tidbits. I use this list, but I know there are others out there.

Alternatively, you can also type in the English words for the things you’re looking for. I find this works best for brand names, though some dresses have popped up this way too.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a specific item, Lolibrary often includes the Japanese name of dress prints in their entry. I shamelessly stole this when I was hunting for Rosy Night’s Masquerade.

The Japanese name of the item is just under the English, at the center top.

Know where to look.

Just like the western second hand market, there are tons of places where Japanese lolitas sell their items. The most common are Yahoo! Japan Auctions, Mercari Japan, Ratuken, and Fril. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s plenty to get you going.

Define your search parameters.

Notice the search parameters on the left side.

Hopefully you’re used to browsing the internet with the Chrome web browser or with the Google Translate extension installed. Usually, this app works to seamlessly translate the websites into English (or your preferred language) as soon as they load. There are exceptions to this (if a banner image has text), but generally the translated page will be pretty close to understandable.

Once you can see the options available to you, tailor your search to the specifications you want. For example, I almost always switch to “for sale” rather than “sold”, because I only want to see items I can buy. If you’re looking for the historical prices of an item, this is a good feature to know about. I also usually set the search to “women’s clothes” to filter out items that might share a name but be totally unrelated (like Cornet, which brings up results for the musical instrument I call a trumpet). If you like, you can also set price limits or sort by price, which might help you stay within a budget. 

Save your common search terms

If only Angelic Pretty will do for your wardrobe, you can save your search terms and parameters as a bookmark. This way, you can simply open the bookmark to see what new items have been listed. I have bookmarks on Mercari for all the brands I’m interested in, so I can quickly browse their items. 

Hope these tips help you find your dream dress in your preferred size and color!

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