As an admitted Japanophile, I can't get enough of New People in San Francisco's Japantown. In addition to a full theater that runs Japanese films, New People has a cafe, an art gallery and two distinctively different merchandise floors. On the lower level is an expected but vast assortment of pop culture and anime-inspired bags, toys, tees and office supplies. The second level, however, contains two fashion boutiques, one of which is for the premiere Japanese Lolita brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright ("BTSSB"). If you are not familiar with the Gothic Lolita style, then get yourself a-Googlin'. I am far too old for such things now, but if this had been the rage ten (okay, fifteen) years ago, I fear you would have seen me traipsing down the street in my Alice in Wonderland inspired frock, curly wig, bonnet and parasol. Indeed, when I sew clothes for myself they always end up looking like this somehow (which is why they are rarely worn). However, I intentionally drew the inspiration for my latest handbags from this movement's love of lace, skulls and sweetness.
So, I had seen the BTSSB clothes online and in the Gothic and Lolita Bible, but it was a real treat to see them in person at New People. I assumed they would look very cheap up close but was amazed by their excellent construction and attention to detail. Being in the showroom felt like being in a fable princess's closet (a feeling that was promoted, in no small part, by the fact that they were all an adorable Japanese size 2). Unfortunately, from the quizzical looks on the salesperson's faces, I think I was their first truly interested customer in weeks.