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Gyaru is the umbrella term for khổng lồ refer khổng lồ a fashion subculture in nhật bản which has lasted for two decades. The subculture itself is divided inkhổng lồ many subcategories: kogyaru, hime gyaru, ganguro, bantía, yamantía. However, the core style orientation for identification remains stable: hair dyed in light color like brown or blond, heavy make-up, sexy cloting, & a wild attitude. Some scholars consider the birth of gyaru as a result of Japan’s unstable economic condition after the Japanese Bubble period in which stock market price was heavily inflated. But gyaru subculture is also a reflection of social class interactions through fashion styles.

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Kogyaru girls make stylishtic adjustments to lớn their own uniforms as a size of rebellion

“The gyaru totally came out of nowhere” – Yasumasa Yonehara, one of the first to discover the fashion subculture gyaru, in an interview with W. David Marx.

The beginning of the 1990s marked the first wave of gyaru subculture, kogyaru, when people started noticing an emergence of a large number of school girls from rich private schools with “brown hair, short schoolgirl skirts, và slightly tanned skin clutching European luxury bags and wearing Burberry scarves.” In the context of Japan’s financial crisis after inflation, kogyarus mostly consists of girls from the upper class who had accumulated wealth & were able lớn afford highly-priced clothings. In other words, Kogyaru luxurious everyday style can be explained by their desire to display a status of style leader through their ability to lớn buy fancy Western fashion items. 

These kogyarus were actually previously known as girlfriends of chiima or involved in chiima’s circles. Chiima, also called “teamers,” are Japanese youthfrom top private schools. These teamers mainly come from privileged backgrounds, but squander their money in throwing parties nights after nights. As nhật bản started tightening its law enforcement on night club scene, chiima ended up as only a short-lived movement. Kogyarus, on the other h&, started expanding their influence.

For first generation of gyaru that is kogyaru, the school uniform was a piece of personal clothing rather than something mandatory. Kogyaru would wear their uniforms everywhere after school. Adjusting knee-length skirts to lớn mini-skirt, wearing “loose socks”, having a light tan, and dying their black hair are ways through which they rebelled against dominant norms on what a high school girl should look lượt thích. These acts of upgrading their unisize outfits are also how kogyaru embrace their youth.

Ganguro girls share certain common stylishtic choices: dyed hair, darker rã, & white make-up.

Kogyaru reached its first peak in mid-1990s when it received extensive coverage from mass truyền thông media which generated a moral panic by linking sexualized versions of uniforms that these girls wore to a deviance from the national character of morality. Also, Japanese’s shūkanshi, a kind of weekly provocative tabloid, heavily exploited this sexualized image of high school girls as the new sexual objects for older men men, establishing a stereotype và associating Kogyarus with teenage prostitution (known as ‘enjo kosai‘ in Japan) (Kinsella 2013). However, despite getting caught up in the stereotype, kogyarus did not biến hóa the majority of teenage prostitution. It was in the midst of misconception of kogyaru và kogyarus themselves’ receiving harassments due lớn the prior issue that gyaru as a subculture took on their first transformation: ganguro.

The birth of ganguro as a prominent sub-genre of gyaru subculture was in the intersection between the significant decrease of the original wealthy kogyaru và the rise of lower-class gyaru participants. In this era, which was after mid-1990s, the subculture’s shift lớn a “cheaper” stylishtic direction happened. Ganguro girls’s dominant style involves heavy tanning in dark shades, bright or trắng face make-up, & hair dye in colorful color like gray, green… They also adopt speech considered vulgar và inappropriate for young women by society. The aforementioned stereotype & the way it drew older men lớn kogyaru contributed khổng lồ the formation of ganguro as a defense mechanism of these subculturers lớn shut men out of their circle and instead focus on gaining favor from fellow participants of the subculture.

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Kogyaru & ganguro are two major peaks of the subculture as a whole in terms of popularity và media exposure. Nevertheless, new subcategories of gyaru also arise through time while still keeping the stylishtic core of the subculture. 

Gyaru subculture is dominated by females, especially young girls. However, there are also male participants, who are called gyaru-o. Gyaru-o started appearing afterwards as they are mainly boys who are interested in gyaru girls và want to hang out with them. Gyaru-o’s lifestyles are also aligned with those of gyaru girls: deep tans, dyed hair, và frequent tiệc nhỏ sessions.

Ganguro girls with even much more extreme make-up and hair color

At the root of the gyaru subculture is the common theme of resistance through fashion innovations và adjustments. In other words, the birth of the subculture is a reaction against the dominant Japanese culture up to lớn the 1990s. Kogyaru sub-genre, the first generation of gyaru, is a way for high school students and young adults female to lớn resist against dominant culture’s ideology on ideal physical appearance of women, as well as strict school rules và standards. Afterwards, ganguro, still aligned with the resistance against dominant standards, seemed to lớn focus more on resisting against the foreign influence. You can only witness authentic gyarus in Japanese neighborhoods. “This was a concrete step in nhật bản finding pride in its own domestic, non-designer fashion — overcoming the constant dull pain of an inferiority complex towards style originators overseas.” Furthermore, ganguro, by creating their own sense of identity instead of striving to lớn resemble upper-class population, also frees itself from the class-based consumer culture in Japan.

Social class in gyaru subculture

Ganguro girls featured in a Japanese magazine (2009)

The class-based nature of gyaru subculture can be seen through the variety of its subcategories because it allows participants from different social classes to join. At the very first khung of gyaru, kogyaru, the subculture mostly comprises of upper class high school girls & some middle-class girls. This is because this subcategory centers around materialism. Specifically, for one to become a kogyaru at that time, one has lớn first be able khổng lồ afford expensive pieces of clothing. So firstly, kogyaru is only known practiced aý muốn affluent kids. However, as time goes, gyaru’s heavy exposure khổng lồ the public through truyền thông media channels because of the moral panics it has caused allows for the subculture’s dissemination within female working class in nhật bản. Shibuya 109, considered the hub of the gyaru subculture, also helps much in this process as it represents the commercialization of gyaru. Shibuya 109 is a shopping complex that has many gyaru clothing và accessories shops. In some senses, Shibuya 109 serves as a style guide for gyaru newbies. With gyarus more frequently flocking to lớn the location, the shop owners started producing individual clothing pieces, usually flashy và sexy, for gyarus to lớn set & create their own gyaru outfit. No more confined khổng lồ only high school uniforms, gyaru subcultures gradually becomes more accessible. Prices of clothings from these shops also vary greatly, so it caters and attracts not only gyarus from upper class but also those from lower class.


Ganguro girls putting on makeup.

One thing that helps sustains the longevity of gyaru subculture is the transition of the original gyarus into well-respected shop clerks at gyaru shops. Young gyarus look up lớn them as big sisters who give sầu out style recommendations. In other words, they were crucial figures in the shifts and changes in styles of younger gyaru subculturers. Through this practice, gyaru maintain their control over gyaru fashion trends, especially in the context of the subculture’s commercialization.

Another factor that also helps maintain the existence of this fashion subculture is its own transformative sầu nature. Gyaru as a subculture has various sub-genres: from kogyaru, hime gyaru (an exaggerative & costly feminine style of kogyaru with excessive sầu use of pink/pastel colors, laces và bows), to lớn more extreme forms lượt thích ganguro, yamanbố (even darker tan and more dramatic make-up than ganguro). Gyaru subculture never dies down, but rather moves to different stages signified by different styles và make-up. Some also attribute these transformations of the subculture as a way for it to lớn stay deviant, since too many followers of a sub-genre will make it become normalized. As a result, going through radical changes of styles & class compositions is necessary for the participants khổng lồ stay “different”.