Three Things You Should Know About Gyaru

Val Lubetsky


What is Gyaru?

Gyaru is a fashion trend in Japan that was popular in the early 2000s. The trend is based on self-expression and fighting colorism, and the pure, polite culture expected of young women in Japan. It encompasses many different subcultures and styles within itself. Here are 3 important things to know about the fashion and subculture!

1: History

Amuro Namie on a magazine cover.

Gyaru started in Japan in the late 90s as the economy was booming. It originated from a singer Amuro Namie, who is credited as one of the first gyaru icons! This was a time when Japan began to adopt elements of western culture, especially the party lifestyle and fashion trends from celebrities in America such as Beyoncé, among other black women. This style was a way for young Japanese women to rebel against the strict polite society. One of the first sub styles—Kogyaru or Kogal—embraced bleached hair, fake tans, excessive makeup, and purposefully dressing against school dress codes as a way to “fight” back. This is one of the most well known and popular forms of gyaru, but definitely not the only one!


2: Styles

An example of Kogal gyaru.

Many different sub styles of gyaru emerged, but three of the most well known styles are Kogal, Agejo, and Tsuyome! Kogal was mostly popular with school aged girls, while Agejo was mostly seen with older women who worked in host clubs. While Kogal was a variation on the school uniform, Agejo had an emphasis on looking mature and reclaiming sexuality. It’s characterized by animal print, big curly hair, which was usually dyed light brown, and heavy makeup. Agejo is one of the more classic gyaru looks and probably one of the most well known sub styles. Another style of gyaru is Tsuyome. Girls who dressed in Tsuyome wore lots of animal print and more “rock” clothing, but the main point of this style was being tan. Tsuyome gyarus tanned in order to fight the beauty standard in Japan of being extremely pale, trying to show to society that being tan did not mean they were ugly or unwanted. There are many other styles of gyaru, but these three are the most well known and some of the first styles developed.


3: Dressing Gyaru

There are tons of different styles of gyaru, ranging from cute and pink to more rock inspired looks. There’s something out there for everyone! If you’re looking to get into this style of fashion it’s important to learn the history and test out which styles work for you. Gyaru is all about self-expression and it’s different for everyone, don’t be afraid to express yourself!