Wednesday, April 11, 2012

taobaospree + an*tai*na shoe review

Recently, I decided to spring for a pair of lolita sandals.  A couple of years ago, I never would have imagined wearing sandals on any occasion; I just didn't do it.  Not with casual outfits, not with fancy outfits, definitely not with lolita.  However, sometime I discovered how comfortable and cute sandals can be and now I don't wear anything else during the summertime, unless I'm wearing lolita.  I had been toying with the idea of buying lolita sandals for some time now, but I never really got around to it because I tend to not buy season-specific articles of clothing in lolita.  I don't have a lolita coat so why should I have lolita summer wear?  That all changed when I saw a beautiful pair of Angelic Pretty sandals.  I fell head over heels in love with the rhinestone bows, the pearl chain, the scalloping, the heel.  It was all so perfect!  I knew that I would never be able to wear them though, seeing as I have a size 9.5 narrow foot.  I have a hard enough time finding American shoes that fit, I didn't want to take a risk on a $200 pair of Japanese shoes.

However, I then realized that an*tai*na makes a similar design of shoe.  No doubt that these are Angelic Pretty replicas, as I think that most if not all of their shoes are replica shoes, but I decided to purchase them anyway.  I have been pleased with an*tai*na's products, as I have two pairs of their tea party shoes. I had only ordered from Qutieland before, but seeing as they increase the prices a lot and they don't have all of the stock, I decided to go with Taobao Spree's shopping service instead.

One of my friends and I have ordered together from various Taobao stores, but I can never remember what shopping service we used.  I decided to go with Taobao Spree for my purchase because the name sticks and I have heard very good review about them.

I placed my order on March 1st, 2012; I sent them an email with the shoes' URL, my size, colour choice, and quantity.  They say that you can either make a spreadsheet, use the spreadsheet template that they provide, or just send an email with the specifics.  Since I don't have Microsoft Office, I decided that sending them an email with a list of my specifications would be easiest.  They didn't seem to mind or take any longer by using this method.  I heard back from them on March 3rd, where Doris emailed me and said that she would be taking care of my order.  She sent a spreadsheet with my item on it, and asked me to make sure that all was correct on her order form.  It was, so I replied saying that it was.  On March 4th, she wrote me back and told me to send the money to the paypal account, which I promptly did.  She told me that she received the payment and would purchase my shoes immediately.

On March 12th, she wrote me back saying that my shoes arrived at their warehouse and told me the shipping price.  Shipping was very expensive, but I expected it to be, as it usually is when buying from the Taobao stores.  Unfortunately, I did not have enough money in my paypal account to pay for shipping immediately, so I had to sell a few things first.  I paid for shipping on March 13th and Doris wrote back saying that she got the payment and would ship my shoes out later that day.  On March 14th, she sent an email with my tracking number and information on how to track my payment.

My shoes were shipped via EMS, which took exactly one week to get to me; my shoes arrived on March 21st.  I thought this was pretty good time, considering they came from China.  I've had to wait much longer for items before.

Overview of Taobao Spree

  • Price - 4.5/5.  You can see the breakdown of prices on this page.  The rates are pretty good, and seem to be about standard for Taobao shopping services.  The shipping was the only reason I knocked this down half a point.  I knew that shipping was going to be high, but it ended up almost doubling the cost of the item, which I wasn't prepared for.  I paid $46.23 for the shoes and $32.78 for the shipping, putting the total at $79.01.  I was happy with the fact that Taobao Spree invoiced you in USD instead of RMB, which would probably up the cost more because of paypal's surcharges on converting foreign currency.  I'm not sure if they would invoice you in your home currency however, or if they only do USD.
  • Communication - 5/5.  Doris was my agent and she was excellent at communicating with me.  She let me know immediately when she got my payments, when my shoes arrived at the warehouse, and when they were ready to ship.
  • Ease of ordering - 5/5.  Usually I am just lost when ordering from shopping services, I get so confused.  However, I thought that this was very easy to do!
  • Total experience - 5/5.  I would definitely use Taobao Spree again, and I understand why they seem to be the front runner in the Taobao shopping service industry.
Now on to the shoes themselves!
here they are!
the bow on the toe
As stated above, I have two other pairs of an*tai*na shoes, so I was already aware of the quality.  They seem to have consistently decent quality.  I have only ever worn Bodyline and an*tai*na shoes in terms of lolita shoes, and Target brand and Converse for normal shoes, so I'm not really an expert on shoe quality. However, these are definitely decent quality for the price.  The shoes are made out of a faux-leather sort of fabric, and it's soft and pliable.  The soles are rubber and have a good amount of traction on them, unlike some of my other lolita shoes.  The pearls are plastic and seem to be strung on fishing line, which is sort of weird.  I might change these out to be glass pearls, as they easily detach.

The toe-bow was a little strange.  It seemed to have a piece of plastic or styrofoam in the center to keep it in a bow shape.  It might also be to stabilize the rhinestones.  Either way, I've never seen that before on a shoe bow, so I don't think that's normal.  It doesn't look too bad though; it actually gives the bow a very cute and unique appearance.  

the toe area -- the scalloping is pretty neat!
Another notable thing is the scalloping on the edge of the shoe.  It looks like a sort of pseudo lace, which I think is quite adorable.  This can be seen on the tea party shoes that I own, as well.  The scalloping, as well as the heart cut-out details seen in the photo to the side, are very well done.  There are no uncut edges, which is a huge plus to me.  Even though you probably would not be able to see that if you were just walking around, it still makes them seem more quality to me.

The shoes seem to be of really nice quality, but the price was a little steep.  I think that they were priced higher than some of their other shoes because of the little details, like the rhinestones and the pearl strands.  However, I think that these might not have been worth the $80 that I paid for them in total.  They are really cute though, and I hope that I can get a lot of use out of them (for that price, I better be able to!  I know it really isn't that expensive, especially when you look at designer shoe prices, but I'm used to wearing Target-quality shoes and therefore not paying over $30 for a pair of shoes.  Some people might scoff at that, but I don't like wearing shoes at all, so why would I pay lots of money for them?!)
back of the shoe -- looks a little sloppy to me.
inside label -- not too neat, but nobody is going to see it anyway.
how the pearls attach to the shoes.
oh no!  attached wrong!
This was my biggest problem with the shoes, which isn't too big of a problem really.  On the right shoe, the pearls are attached perfectly.  The two hooks are spread out enough that the pearls dangle elegantly on your foot.  However, the left one is different; the hooks are way too close together so it just bunches up the pearls, making them look pretty bad.  I'm going to try and fix this with a seam ripper and some industrial-strength glue, so I hope I don't mess them up.

I ordered these shoes in a size 41.  My other two pairs of an*tai*na shoes were both size 42, but they were both a little big on me length-wise, and very wide on me.  I decided to go down a size just to see what it would be like, and I'm glad that I did.  These seem to fit much better than my other pairs, so I think that if I buy from an*tai*na again, I will order size 41.

Overall, I would give these shoes a 4/5 because I don't think they were worth the price that I ended up paying for them, but I do think that they're adorable.  I haven't worn them for a long period of time yet because I'm waiting to wear them for prom (which is April 27th!) so I'll have to add a comfort review later.

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