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01 May 2010 @ 09:47 pm
Review: Antaina Tea Party Replicas + Yoybuy  
I got my Antaina Tea Party replicas in the mail today!  And I figured I'd do a little review/comparison for them ^.^




First of all, the packaging it came in (courtesy of some combination of Antaina and Yoybuy, I guess?)


It looks kind of like Yoybuy just put a load of brown packaging tape onto the original shoebox and shipped it like that. Which I think is fine, since the shoebox was plenty sturdy and the tape made it sturdier and waterproofed it. It took me like 10 minutes to open it in a neat manner though, because of trying to cut through the tape without tearing apart the box.


Seems decently packaged, everything is stabilized with tissue paper. There wasn't anything stuffed inside the shoes, so the tops were a bit crushed, but they seemed to pop right back up, so I guess they didn't really need it?

Okay, so next I carefully looked over these shoes. The first observation is that the PU leather they are made from is STINKY... OMG *gasmask* Well, okay, not quite thaat bad, but they are very strong. I could smell them even when I just had 2 sides of the box-top slit open and hadn't even opened the box yet. They seem to be doing better even after just an hour or so of airing out though, so I think they'll be fine in the end.

Also, the leather is sort of soft/cushy. I don't know how to describe it, except that it's not the stiff hard almost-plastic feel that Secret Shop shoes have, but much softer and squishier (on the straps at least, hard to tell with the actual shoes).

Main picture was outside the cut. They look pretty much like the Tea Party style you see from Secret Shop. Here's a shot from the side:


Pretty ^.^ The heel is not completely flat, but not really a heel either, which is good for clumsy ol' me :-P

I like my shoes to have *some* traction, so of course I check the bottom:

Pretty flower pattern! Probably not as useful as the plain horizontal stripes like my Secret Shop ones, but at least it's not completely flat and smooth!

Then I checked out the buckles and snaps:


Heart-shaped buckle? Check! Reasonable looking snap closures? Double check ^.^

All in all, construction looks solid ^.^ Only one little thing on the back of the right shoe:

But it's very minor, and I'm not sure that other Chinese brands do better (if anything, probably worse, as overall this is very solidly constructed).

Fit-wise, it seems true to size. I ordered 34, because I think that's what corresponds to 22cm, and it indeed feels just right. My toes just touch the front of the shoes (I prefer my shoes about that fit), and which is just the tiniest bit tighter than the 22.5cm Secret Shop Tea Partys that I have.

Only issue is that the straps are (as always) too long for my flat feet XD But that happens with pretty much any shoe and isn't the fault of Antaina at all XD

I also did a quick comparison with my Secret Shop Tea Party replicas:


Firstly, the material difference has already been mentioned. The Secret Shop leather is stiffer, not squishy at all. The Antaina leather is considerably softer, so the straps have a little bit of "squish" in them.

Speaking of the straps, the Antaina straps are wider (and thicker too, but that's due to the difference in material):

So yeah, a little bit (like 3 mm maybe?) thinner on the Secret Shop shoes. Doesn't make a huge difference in the overall look, but having small flat feet and thin ankles, I think the thinner straps do look a little daintier. But not a huge difference, and personal preference whether you like or the other, or both XD

The soles on the Antaina ones seem to stick out from under the main part of the shoe more:


And if you look from the side, while the heels look like the same, the material and construction on the Secret Shop shoes look more refined and clean. The sole piece has nice sharp edges, whereas the Antaina soles are kinda blobby. They seem plenty sturdy, but the look is a little sloppy.


And I did a top down comparison shot and noticed some strap/bow placement differences:

The straps on the Antaina one are set farther back than the Secret Shop ones, so the cross is closer to my ankle, whereas the Secret Shop straps cross more or the front part of my instep. I don't think 0.5cm of size would result in such a huge difference, it's clearly a design difference. I personally don't have a strong preference for either. If anything I actually like the straps further back because the shoes feel more secured that way, but that's just me. The bow on the front is also slightly more forward on the Secret Shop shoes, but this difference is really marginal and not noticeable.

And last but not least, I almost didn't notice this, but the direction of the heart buckles is different! Probably not a big deal, but for someone who's really into details, maybe this matters:

So yeah, tiny detail, but I guess people might have preferences one way or the other. I think the way Secret Shop did it was a nice touch, but I don't think it looks particularly better or worse one way or the other ^.^

So, in summary:

Antaina

Speed: 5/5 - fantastically fast! It took them 4 days to manufacture, as promised! 4 days!!!! I needed these for the ACEN fashion show, and was really scared about having to order them so close to the deadline, so I was soooooo pleasantly surprised to hear that Antaina only takes 4 days to make these shoes! I was expecting something more along the lines of 30 days, which is what my past experience with Taobao shoe sellers has been.

Quality: 4.5/5 - one little mess-up in the back, and the soles look a little blobbier than I like, but overall the construction seems just as sturdy as my Secret Shop ones, plus it actually comes in my size ^.^


Yoybuy

Communication 5/5 - responded to my initial questions immediately, and were very accommodating about additional questions and requests for contacting Antaina. After my order, the rep in charge of my order was very prompt about emailing me updates and invoices. Pretty much next-day response (skipping Sundays).

Shipping 5/5 - shipped the next day after I paid my shipping invoice with EMS so it got here in less than a week. Might've preferred they use an external box, but that's just because I'm one of those weirdos who likes to keep shoeboxes.



So yeah, overall, this was a great buy, both on the part of Antaina and Yoybuy. I still think the Secret Shop ones look more refined, but then again, I am buying among the first batch of these that Antaina's making. Maybe over time they will perfect things more.

Plus, these come in more than just the standard S/M/L sizing, which is nice if you have smaller or larger feet than average, or are between sizes.

And... you don't have to pre-order and wait a really long time, they make them as they go. I suspect once more people buy them, the manufacture time will go up, but for now, the 4-day time is really fantastic!

As far as I can tell, they have a good range of available colors too, including rare things like mint and lavender! Although I think mint only comes in enamel leather at the moment, which I prefer less. The pictures look like it's pretty matte for an enamel leather though, so maybe it's okay? Point is, they come in lots of colors, even rare ones, and you can have a choice of enamel or normal PU for most of the colors, which is nice <3

Yoybuy as a shopping service was great! They respond to everything promptly, the customer service is quick and extremely helpful and polite, and they actually seem to speak good English, so no weird miscommunications! They also have a live chat help if you're online at the same time their English agents are, it works really well for immediate response. I got them to actually call the Taobao brand contact while on chat with me to figure out the answer to some of my questions!

WHEEE!!!
 
 
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lemontree11lemontree11 on May 5th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
Still really cute, can't wait to see how you'll coord this