Bibliotheca December 2022 – Favorite Things: Not Just Strawberries; Also Victorian Maidens.
Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This month’s theme for the Bay Area Kei Bibliotheca blog circle is “favorite things,” and you absolutely cannot stop me from talking about strab…oh wait, that was last month. 😀 Ok, fine. I’ll take a break from strawberries for a minute, just so I can talk about my new favorite brand Hoshibako Works.
Hoshibako Works is a Chinese lolita fashion brand that opened their online shop on Taobao on July 30, 2017. Their aesthetic vision, taken from their official Japanese site, is: “A jewel box full of stardust. Sparkling things, wonderful things, glittering and shining talents, a small universe packed tightly with things that take shape.” Between 2017 and 2020, as far as I can tell, the designer only created one piece of clothing and a purse.
On January 19, 2020, they posted on Weibo that during that time they had been going to school, and found that managing a brand as well as studying was too much for them. After graduating and thinking things over, they found a like-minded business partner in Japan and decided to restart their brand because it was what they truly wanted to do! That business partner was Shigure-san, who is now a product planner as well as hat designer. Shigure-san previously sold hats at Japanese indie events like Artism.
Shigure-san had been active as a lolita designer since 2018, and opened their online store (K Shironohosh) in 2019. According to their Twitter they were officially working with Hoshibako Works as of December 4, 2020, but presumably they were collaborating and discussing the relationship prior to that!
The first product in the revived brand of Hoshibako Works was the purse they had designed prior to hiatus, a cute purse styled like a vintage radio. “The design concept is an American retro-style radio + a girl who travels with music before listening to the Walkman!” It’s still available from them today in a variety of colors. ❤ In May of the same year, despite the pandemic, they also released an adorable strawberry hat called Gégé Berry (a new version is still being produced as well). The name is SUPER cute in Chinese – 格格莓莓. Gégé uses a character I’m familiar with in Japanese meaning “rank,” – in Chinese it refers to an unmarried daughter (and specifically an Imperial Princess of the Manchu dynasty). The second word, méi méi, is strawberry in Japanese (in which it would be ichigo); it seems that it can be a little more generic in Chinese, so you might translate the name of the hat as Maiden Berry or Princess Berry in English! And you believed me when I said I wouldn’t talk about strawberries today… 😀
The brand stuck with mostly hats and brooches for a couple of months (probably because Shigure-san already had a following for their hat business), but in August of 2020 Hoshibako Works began to work on producing clothing, and reopened their Taobao shop. They must have been a hit because by September they had announced a collaboration with popular Japanese brand Ozz On (with whom they still regularly collaborate) and their Summer Manor clothing line released that month as well. And in December of 2020, their Japanese branch opened up! The store in Shinjuku opened not long after – January 16, 2021. Many lolita stores in Japan operate as “select shops” – in other words, rather than selling a single brand the operator “selects” a variety of items that they believe align with their theme to sell from the storefront. Alpstola, founded by a former Atelier Boz designer, is a Japanese brand that does this as well. So while Hoshibako’s Taobao online storefront sells purely Hoshibako products, the Japanese storefront and site also carry a variety of consignment goods that match the Hoshibako aesthetic.
Speaking of their aesthetic, it’s one of the many reasons I love this brand. They have some purely fun and sweet offerings like their pie hats, and some more Gothic accessories like their recent Rouge & Noir release, but generally their style seems to fall into what I might, if pressed, call Victorian Cottagecore or possibly Haunted Doll. It’s full of lace, flowers, and poetry – here’s the release notes for a hat that they produced in early 2021:
You travel through the wilderness of my heart as easily as sunlight through crystal. The classic hat shape with retro printed pink adds a gentle atmosphere. It is an elegant literary girl who writes unsent letters in spring.
They definitely embraced an antique doll impression with their Lilianne Sisters release in September of 2021; marking a dip into old-school lolita aesthetics with lots of black and white combinations, peeking bloomers, and lacy bonnets. They appeared that year at Comiday and The AIG International Animation Game Mutual Entertainment Expo (doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it?) in promotion of that release as well. They continue to release new clothes and accessories regularly – this autumn they even produced a series of adorable frilly knit cardigans!
Another feature I really love about Hoshibako Works is their inclusive sizing – their Seven Color Waltz Frilled Blouse goes up to a 160 cm bust! They also make efforts to show their clothes on smaller girls – they featured a try-on series of images for Lilianne Sisters on their Weibo account to give people who might be more petite an idea of how the dress would look on them since it featured longer skirts than usual. And they even make shoes up to size 42 CN (my size)!! How could I not adore them?
They also don’t skimp on the details. They mostly work in synthetic fabrics, but they’re dense, lush weaves and the clothes are very well-constructed with tons of passementerie. Luxurious lace, velvet ribbon accents, fabric-covered buttons, pearls, embroidery, fake flowers, and bows are all par for the course with Hoshibako Works’ clothes and accessories, and the construction is excellent. They also produce clothes in colors that can be difficult to find in lolita fashion such as deep purple, making them a fabulous option for lolitas seeking accessories to match dresses in eccentric colorways!
Are you in love now too? Here are some reputable retailers from which you can purchase Hoshibako Works’ clothing and accessories:
Harajuku Hearts in San Francisco – authorized US-based reseller – they sell many other Chinese and Japanese brands as well. Easiest to order from if you’re in the US, but there’s a markup and the stock is very limited.
Atelier Pierrot in Harajuku, Tokyo – authorized Japan-based reseller – they sell many other Japanese and Chinese brands as well. You can order directly from them if you’re not in Japan through their web shop – just use code OVERSEAS. Fairly easy to order from (they have lovely English-speaking staff). There’s a markup over the base price.
Hoshibako Works in Tokyo – official Japanese online store – they also sell some other Chinese and Japanese indie brands on consignment. If you’re not in Japan, you’ll need to use a proxy service such as Zen Market. If you’re comfortable with proxies it’s easy to order from them. There is a markup over the base price.
Hoshibako Works in China – official Chinese online store through Taobao. If you’re not in China, you’ll need to use a proxy service such as Spreenow. Can be a little intimidating to order from, but isn’t too bad with a proxy! Cheapest price as this is their flagship store.
Want to just follow them on social media for their gorgeous aesthetic or to keep up on new releases? You can use Google Translate or other translation programs to read through these, or just check out the pretty pictures!
Official Account on Weibo – Chinese
Shigure-san’s Weibo account – Chinese
Official Account on Twitter – Japanese
Shigure-san’s Twitter Account – Japanese
Official Account on Instagram – Japanese
Official Account on Facebook – Japanese
I hope you enjoyed getting to learn a little bit about my new favorite brand, Hoshibako Works! If you did, please subscribe below to get a notification each week about my latest post, and I look forward to seeing you next week here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤
Check out what other members of Bibliotheca had to say about this month’s topic!
Cupcakes and Unicorns Looks to the Future of Favorite Brands She’ll One Day Own
Kelp Gets Sentimental with Her (and my!) Favorite Genre of Music
Lovelylaceandlies Shares Her Favorite Moments of 2022
Wear Your Bows Wears a Lot of Really Cute Bows
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