Monday, 9 October 2017

Moi-même-Moitié is Back! Ownership Transfer Announcement

All rise for your lord and savior, Mana-sama.

An unexpected and exciting new announcement was posted on Wunderwelt's page! The announcement contains a message from Mana and Tanaqro Co. Ltd (Wunderwelt's parent company) and reads as follows:


"Towards a new Moi-même-Moitié
This October, Moi-même-Moitié business ownership has been transferred from previous owner Maglaia to TANAQRO’s apparel division. Being able to reach the whole world by making use of TANAQRO’s global structure will be helpful with facing Moi-même-Moitié’s most important future challenge: To expand Japan’s prized Gothic Lolita culture on a worldwide scale. My fundamental convictions have stayed the same ever since the foundation of Moi-même-Moitié. It is my wish to guard this culture and make it known to more and more people.
- Moi-même-Moitié Producer Mana

Notice regarding business transfer of Gothic brand Moi-même-Moitié
TANAQRO Co., Ltd., which also runs Wunderwelt online shop, agreed with Maglaia Co., Ltd.* on a business transfer of Gothic brand Moi-même-Moitié. In order to realize Moi-même-Moitié's worldwide expansion, the brand will make the best use of TANAQRO's experience with providing service to global users. The business transfer was decided upon with the aim to revitalize the brand."

Firstly, there isn't a lot of comfirmed information about Maglaia - I was always of the understanding that it was Mana's private record label, formed sometime after Midi:Nette became inactive.The most recent Moi dix Mois record, Reprise, was released under Maglaia instead of Midi:Nette. It appears that Mana owns and runs the entire Maglaia operation.

Operating under the assumption that Moitié was completely owned by Mana, it would appear that he's handed over the brand and rights to Tanaqro, but may remain involved in his regular capacity as a spokesman, designer, and producer. Given that Mana maintains a very tightly controlled and iconic personal brand that extends to his clothing, it would be unusual for him to let someone else take over entirely. Of course, I'm speculating, but his message certainly doesn't read as a goodbye. Moitié is nothing without Mana, and I'm sure he would never agree to hand it over unless he remained closely involved with operations.

Up until this year, we haven't heard a lot of from our beloved brand, and loyal fans were starting to wonder if it was the beginning of the end. Gothic lolita has massively decreased in popularity, even in European countries where it always had a much stronger following. To make things worse, the classic sharp, western goth Moitié style is not terribly common even among gothic lolitas - soft and cute is definitely more in favour right now. Moitié was hit hard and is unable to keep up with the breakneck pace of companies like Angelic Pretty and the massive Taobao market.

Things had been looking pretty bad for Moitié over the past few years. The slow closure of all physical shops, dwindling releases, the complete lack of hype, lackluster releases, the removal of Moitié from the GLB, the end of GLB itself...things were looking pretty grim. Honestly, I predicted that Moitié would just slowly die within a few years. They were hard to buy from (CDJapan = terrible customs fees, SS = horrible commission fees), hard to fit (listed measurements are usually wrong), and most of the lolita world had moved on.

That said, Moitié seems to have been ramping things up in the past couple of months. Earlier this year, Wunderwelt announced that it would be carrying new Moitié pieces in addition to its usual secondhand selection, and featured an interview segment where non-Japanese fans could submit questions for Mana to answer. Additonally, some photos recently surfaced of a large lolita event in China called Hello Lolita featuring Moitié as a brand guest, with some interesting clothing samples available for purchase (check out the Tweet).

Moitie items at Hello Lolita Shanghai.I would kill for one of those headbows and the tights!
So what does this all mean for the future of my favourite brand? Well, Wunderwelt is much more internationally focused than Moitié. After Wunderwelt was transferred to Tanaqro, they began to focus intensely on capturing the market outside of Japan, and were very successful despite a rocky start. Most of the site is available in English, and they have English-speaking staff. They also ship internationally and often have sales and coupons available for international customers. They are also more heavily involved in Chinese events. Moitié doesn't seem very popular among Chinese lolitas (they seem to favour sweet and classic, or cutesy gothic rather than...gothy gothic) but the sheer number of Chinese lolitas means a whole new market is available. Reaching out to the Chinese lolita market has proven to be an excellent strategy for Angelic Pretty and BTSSB.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the brand being more available for overseas customers. In addition to it simply being easier to buy, we might see things like accurately listed measurements, more forgiving cuts, a more frequent release schedule...it might also drive down the secondhand market, which is currently absolutely ridiculous. There are literally dozens of girls selling unpopular dresses from 2008 with $100+ added to the listing price because they're secretly trying to recoup their customs fees. None of it ever sells - some of those listings have been up for a year. No tea, no shade...

In the same vein, I'm curious to see if they'll continue to refresh older prints (like Iron Gate/Royal Gate and Gothic Arch/Neo Gothic Arch) or if they will straight up re-release older prints AP style. The latter would certainly make a ton of money, especially if they kept the classic colourways/cuts but expanded the sizing. Neo Gothic Arch was a modest success, but I feel like it could have been a smash hit if they reused the older colourways. Depending on the approach they take, this might crash the secondhand market or keep the classics in high demand.


(As someone who owns Gothic Arch and Iron Gate, I have really mixed feelings about this haha...)

Now...for the bad.

It's entirely possible that Mana may maintain creative control but the business aspect of the brand will take precedence over his vision. By that, I mean that the brand may become profit-motivated instead of design-motivated. Mana has that same old school goth mentality...always held true to his original image and ideals of what he wanted EGL to be without being influenced by trends or outsiders. Increased production may mean greater quantity at the cost of quality, or worse...the brand might have to cave and design based on what is trendy rather than what maintains the iconic style of the brand.

(I plan to do a timeline series soon showing the various aesthetics of Moitié over the years!)

While there have certainly been plenty of style changes and lower quality releases over the years, the core aesthetic has remained more or less the same, and the brand is known for being well-made. One of the main gripes I hear about the rapid-fire pace of new AP releases is that the cuts and fabrics have become dull and uninspired (tiled prints in muted pastels on chiffon sack dresses) and the construction quality has taken a slight dip.

I really don't want Moitié to start following the current trends in gothic...which, if Taobao is anything to go by, either sickeningly cutesy or overly gaudy and overdesigned. No shade - I love a lot of Taobao gothic brands, but a lot of it is just...well, it's not that I dislike it, but it's not very Mana. When I think of Mana and Moitié, I think of simple, elegant, mature, and refined. I just get nervous when I hear the word "revitalize" because it often means "totally change our artistic vision" and that would be devastating to the steadfast fans currently keeping the brand alive.

Overall, I'm really excited but keeping my expectations in check - any news about Mana and Moitié is good news to me, but I've never witnessed a change in ownership like this before, and it could go quite well or become a total dumpster fire. Until then, I'll keep praying at my Mana shrine.

4 comments:

  1. I was waiting to see you write about this! I completely agree with you on everything and worded it very well. I've only been a Moitie fan for a relatively short time, but the secondhand prices drive me nuts and it's frustrating trying to get older stuff since nobody wants to budge on their prices.

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    1. The secondhand market is ridiculous. Even bigger Japanese shops like Closet Child just refuse to acknowledge that MMM is not as prestigious as it used to be and nobody is going to shell out $700+ for a 10 year old dress lol.

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  2. Oh, my! This is great and frightening news! I agree with you 100% about the recent (infuriating) trend in lolita nowadays and how Moitié always seemed more mature and elegant! Refined, yes! GAH. I just want to be able to afford lolita in general...I guess I can start with Bodyline first...*le sigh&

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    1. Yes, I really hope Moitie sticks with their mature image. It's one of my favourite things about the brand.

      Nothing wrong with starting with Bodyline, they have some great versatile stuff for beginners :) And you can find great deals on Japanese auction pages if you're super patient!

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