While there are mixed answers, in my opinion I do think it is worth it. Of course paying 400$ for a single dress without any accessories is too much. If it comes in a set, then I'd say it is a nice deal since it's pretty hard to find all the pieces of a set separately and can take years to get everything in the right color.
The Merry making party from Angelic Pretty would be a nice example of set.
If you read this I'm assuming you already know some things about brands, but for those who don't I'll try to explain what they are exactly.
Lolita brands are companies specialized in the fashion. They produce various series of dresses, blouses, accessories, shoes, etc. The difference between offbrand and brand is the quality. I had the chance to compare both next to the other and there is a huge difference for some dresses. I'd say that offbrand pieces are perfect for casual coords and closet filler though. You cannot always spend that much on lolita clothes!
Brands are so expensive because they are mostly handmade and the concepts are made by a designer.
Let's take a look at the different brands. I won't put the history of each one since I think you can go check it out on wikipedia anytime if you wish to know more.
My favorite brand would be Angelic Pretty, created by Maki and Asuka. I mostly own dresses from them since I really like their cute prints. They specialize in sweet lolita, but produce some other styles from time to time. They always have alot of accessories for each of their sets, which can come in handy when you try to make up a coord.
Next brand would be Baby the star shine bright, also known as BTSSB. They also offer some sweet prints, but have a more classical look most pf the time. They also produce great quality dresses with lots of details.
They also have an affiliated company that goes by the name of Alice and the pirates (Aatp), which produces more pirate styled pieces that look very elegant. I fiond they also have a lot of choice in boystyle/kodona.
Metamorphose temps de fille is also a well-known brand. They offer a large variety of styles, mostly sweet and classic. Their designs are a bit sober than Angelic Pretty and more elegant too. I never owned any pieces from them but I heard often that they also are of a great quality. Some of their dresses are larger than other brands.
Innocent World is a brand that specializes in classic lolita style. Not too much frills and just enough details to be beautiful.
I know there are more brands then the ones listed, like Victorian Maiden, Atelier Pierrot, Mary Magdalene, Putumayo, Juliette & Justine and Emily Temple. But the last one I'd like to showcase is Moi-même-moitié.
Mana is the creator of this gothic lolita brand. Most of the prints are really rare and expensive. The quality of the prints is always stunning but unfortunately they only offer really small sizes that are not accessible for every lolita. There would be much more to say about the creator himself, but let's stay at this for now.
While I did not extend a lot on each brand, I will eventually make a post for every single of them. Here I just wanted to showcase them briefly. In my next post I will probably talk about the different lolita styles.
See you soon!