Many lolitas, especially those new to the fashion, seem to bring up this question. But the answer varies from person to person. Here are a few explanations of what may make brand appealing.
1. The quality. The quality of brand items is amazing. The fabric is thicker and softer than anything you would find from bodyline and the lace is soft and not scratchy in the least. The ribbons used on this particular JSK have barely frayed and this was made in 2006. And the stitching! When you examine the garment you can see that a lot of time and effort went into making the piece. The attention to detail is incredible.
A zipper that's practically invisible.
Attention to detail. Use of high quality ribbon that barely frays!
Full satin lining.
Small built-in petticoat to give a little bit of poof.
2. Brand whores. There are so many people, not just lolitas, that are obsessed with labels, whether it be something fairly unknown to most of the world (like Angelic Pretty) or a brand that EVERYBODY has heard of (like Chanel or Louis Vuitton). High end brands have always been sought after. Maybe it makes the person feel special. Or perhaps they saw a celebrity with a particular item and decide that they have to have it. Or maybe they are simply trying to fit in with a certain crowd or make someone else jealous. Regardless of the reason, brand whores will always be out there.
3. Luxury. For many, buying lolita is a luxury and they want it to feel like one.
4. Original prints and trend setting. Companies like Angelic Pretty and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright are held in high regard because of some of their products and must have prints. AP started a huge trend with the release of Sugary Carnival. Even though this print was released in 2009 and re-released in 2011, it's still a dream print for many lolitas. Bodyline even made their own carousel print which has become very popular as well.
5. Treating yourself. Sometimes, you just want to do something nice for yourself... and buying a brand item is your way of doing that.
So, I'm not saying that you have to wear brand to be considered a lolita or anything like that. But it is nice to have a few brand pieces in your wardrobe. I know it can be expensive but always keep your eye out for a deal. The JSK pictured above is from Angelic Pretty and I only paid $50 (second hand obviously) for it because it was slightly damaged.
Don't ever let anyone make you feel like less of a lolita just because you aren't wearing brand. It takes time to build up your wardrobe and if you WANT a brand name piece, save up, and in time you will have the wardrobe of your dreams.