gyaru

For much of the 1990s and 2000s, it seemed that you couldn’t walk down a street in any major shopping district in Japan without spotting a group of gyaru chatting enthusiastically about…something. But in recent years, the number of tanned young women with the very colorful (some might say “loud”) gyrau fashion style seems to have dropped almost to zero.

With the shutting down last year of fashion magazines Koakuma Ageha, which will be restarting publication in April, and egg, it seems that gyaru might soon be owacon (“owatta contentsu” or something that doesn’t sell anymore). While we wouldn’t be too quick to sign any death certificates, these before-and-after photos of one-time gyaru models are a sure sign of how things have changed.

While gyaru subculture has been around for a few decades now, it’s popularity has waned significantly in the last ten years or so. Perhaps the best indication that gyaru are on a decline is the state of their flagship magazines egg and Koakuma Ageha, both of which shut down last year. Though Koakuma Ageha, which some have called the bible for hostesses bar employees, many of whom are gyaru themselves, is resuming publication in April, egg is apparently completely dead. While we’re not sure how many are actually mourning egg‘s death, we do have to applaud it’s lengthy 19-year life, running from 1995 to 2014.

▼ The final issue of egg

eggAmazon Japan

In addition to the fashion, part of what made these magazines so popular was the models, like Natsumi Yoshida, pictured below. She was practically the very personification of gyaru while working as a model, but not so much anymore, as you can see in the tweeted photo further down. Though Yoshida is still working in fashion, she’s finished with the gyaru side of things.

▼ Yoshida actually got started as a gyaru model when she was only 15.

gyaru1Twitter (@idm_dd)

▼ Yoshida at the Tokyo Girls Collection in February.

And Yoshida isn’t the only model who has completely changed her look! Here’s Mie Miyashita, once a model for egg.

Though she’s clearly not a gyaru model anymore, she still looks pretty fashionable to our eyes, though her style is much more subdued now.

Another model who’s changed with the times is Kaoru Watanabe. The egg cover below is from 2008, when gyaru fashion was still a viable fashion force.

gyaru2Amazon Japan

Watanabe started modeling when she was in her first year of high school and continued appearing in egg until 2008 when she got pregnant and decided to take a break. She’s still working in the fashion industry today, though now she’s apparently a designer. And, as the tweet below indicates, she still has fans, even if they’re not into gyaru fashion anymore.

Another model who has taken her career in a slightly different direction is Yayo Nemo, who was particularly popular as one of egg‘s “sweet gyaru.” She appeared on the magazine’s cover 8 times in 2012 alone, so it’s hardly surprising that she gathered a large following.

gyaru3Amazon Japan

Nemo has managed to turn that following into a career, though now she’s modeling her own designs! Although she’s apparently adopted a much more traditional look…

The current “Instagram idol” known as megbaby also got her start as a gyaru mdoel for egg, where she was known as masamegu. This tweet should show you just how much things have changed!

Of course, like all subcultures, gyaru had a number of different subgenres, like the ganguro in the 2006 photo below. These fringe elements of the gyaru movement are almost impossible to find now, and the closure of egg is considered to be a result of their dwindling numbers. On the other hand, with Koakuma Ageha resuming publication, it’s probably safe to say that gyaru haven’t completely disappeared–they’ve just changed.

Ganguro_cropWikipedia (Hekerui)

These days, women who might be called gyaru have adopted a more mainstream Japanese style, avoiding the dark tans and using a more natural makeup style. And the kyaba-jo (women who work in hostesses bars) have apparently “quieted down” their style in general as well. It makes one wonder just how relevant Koakuma Ageha is now and whether there is even a market to sustain the magazine anymore. Even in 2013, when this Koakuma Ageha issue was published, the move towards a more “normal” fashion style was already basically complete.

gyaru4Amazon Japan

The magazine even jumped on the Attack on Titan bandwagon at one point as well, it seems. Here’s a tweet of Attack on Titan make-up in Koakuma Ageha. Just because you’ve lost most of you skin doesn’t mean you can’t still look your sparkling best!

While it does appear that gyaru as we knew them have largely gone the way of the dodo, we can’t help wondering if they’ll make a resurgence or not. It seems unlikely, but a part of us can’t help rooting for them, since we always thought they helped make Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya a slightly more colorful neighborhood!

Sources: Biz Journal, Naver Matome
Images: Twitter (@idm_dd), Twitter (@TGCnews)