Ever since I spent a week in Tokyo in September last year I have been kind of obsessed with this fashion style followed by young Japanese women called Gyaru. To be honest I’m not even sure if that’s the proper name for the style as the look is also referred to as Kogyaru or Kogal though it tends to apply more to the girls who wear Japanese school uniforms all the time. Then there’s also Ganguro which is also suitable except in this trend they go overboard with the tanning until their faces are almost black and then use white makeup which can look really creepy (example). For now I am going to go with Gyaru because it seems to be the most accurate term to describe this style, please correct me if I’m using the wrong term or if there’s another one I don’t know about. Please note I am no expert in this style and this is all based on personal observations and research on the internet. Please let me know if I’ve made any mistakes and I’m keen to learn as much as possible about this wonderful fashion!
The gyaru fashion in Japan is all about looking “Western”. The girls take the basic elements of western fashion and make them their own. One of the main aspects is the hair and makeup as this is what transforms a regular Japanese girl into a gyaru girl. They usually lighten their hair to a nice golden brown or dark strawberry blonde colour and add lots of extensions to make it long and thick. They tease the back to make it super thick and usually curl the ends so their hair looks luxurious and wavy. As for makeup the main focus is on the eyes, to make them as big and bright as possible. They usually wear contacts that alter the colour of their eyes and make the iris much, much bigger. They also wear fake lashes or at the very least, special lash lengthening mascara that makes their eyelashes much thicker and longer than normal mascara does (such as Fiberwig). Combined with clever use of eyeshadow and eyeliner their eyes appear HUGE and very Western. I saw one girl in Tokyo who drew the bottom line of her eyeliner go a good 5mm below her actual eyeline to create the effect of big, round eyes. From a distance it was convincing but up close it was really bizarre!
I found this video the other day that has two girls demonstrating how they do their makeup to go from “ugly” to “beautiful”. You can really see how much of a difference it makes here because they show them only half made-up before they finish off their makeup:
(This is the second half of the clip)
Their fashion can vary, though typically they wear the latest fashions from shopping centers like Shibuya 109 (which is seriously the greatest shopping center of all times, ever! Unless you’re not into young female fashion, of course…). It’s typically short skirts, platformed heels, cute tops or jumpers with chunky belts and designer bags and jewelry. The style can range from cute to sexy or in-your-face colourful and funky and I’ve also witnessed a goth sorta take on the look too.
One of my favourite features of a gyaru girl are their accessories, especially their nails! They’re usually the ones with the insane nail art that prevents them from being able to use their fingers properly. I witnessed a few girls trying to text with these crazy long nails with massive jewels on them and just about died with jealousy. I’ve had Japanese nail art done before and while it was pretty crazy by Australian standards, it was pretty tame compared to some of what you see on hardcore gyaru girls. Another awesome accessory they have are their phone charms. Seriously, I don’t know how they put up with so many small stuffed toys on their phones, which are already a LOT bigger than what we’re used to I should also point out. When their phones aren’t in use, which admittedly isn’t very often, they leave the charms hanging out of their back pockets or handbags as fashion accessories. It’s so totally over the top, cute and cool.
It seems that most sources online regard the style as being for young, silly girls who have disposable incomes and are obsessed with fashion and consumerism but I don’t think that’s the case any more (bare in mind most of these sources also said gyaru doesn’t really exist any more when it very clearly does and kept likening it to the “Valley Girls” of the USA). It really is just a fashion trend that is followed by so many girls from all walks of life. To me it’s just a fashion style that’s trying to copy a Western style of fashion that doesn’t actually exist and has in itself become really unique and absolutely gorgeous. Apparently it takes hours for the really full-on gyaru girls to get ready each day, as this article explains (though it’s a good article I think a lot of the info is a bit off as I’m not sure if they’re actually trying to look like “living dolls” as such). I take a good hour to get ready each day so the mind boggles at the thought of taking up to five hours in the morning to get ready, but hey, no pain no gain, right?!
The thing that actually fascinates me the most though is that a lot of non-Asian girls, in particular white girls from Europe and the USA are now adopting the style. The thought of white girls trying to look like Japanese girls who are trying to look white is hilarious! But they do a pretty good job at it in most cases, my current favourite is Cupcake Couture who is a 19 year old blonde girl from Finland who absolutely defines “gyaru” despite being the “wrong” race. Amazing! I am very willing to admit I could NOT be bothered maintaining this look, so I am happy to just appreciate it from afar and give kudos to those girls who live the gyaru way of life.