The Fall of Gyaru an easy target and masking the problems with Japan teen fashion

I’ve repeatedly talked about the fall of Gyaru. I stated my reasons recently in the NeoGal post. And just in case you don’t feel like clicking back I’m going restate them. Now and then go back to discussing the reasons I’m writing a new article.

Reasons I feel gyaru has problems

:bow: Over mori, nails/hair/everything went too over the top and impossible to maintain. Tanning died. Even if you like it, the over mori people who kept up with it all started looking the same. Outrageous yet a bit boring.

:bow: The boom of 2007-2009 in gyaru created gyaru but many of them naturally calmed from that era and are moving towards something else. That can be Neogal, but it’s also mega popular Onee gyaru, Mode, or Street casual like Sly. Again all of the other choices than Neogal have many more stores and followers.

:bow: The growth of oraora, it’s a way to rebel without as much flashiness. No to mention Ora Ora and psy-trance (saike) go hand in hand which allows people to congregate at raves and music events without the problems of Shibuya.

:bow: The K-Pop boom is crazy in Japan as well as AKB48. The new highschoolers who could pick an aging Ayu or older Koda Kumi instead are going with the youth and fun of K-Pop and AKB48. Both which don’t promote gyaru.

:bow: Brands were too quick to change their individual style to promote the new hot trend. Soon mode clothing was at every store not just Emoda and Murua and brands started looking the same, Lip Service and Egoist now look like Murua. It ruins brand loyalty and individuality. The sweet dolly boom has created a lot of watered down Liz Lisa, Ank Rouge types like Adree, Secret Honey, recently bankrupted Ricori and more.

:bow: Shibuya has been dying since 2008. Dying because of the asshole fake policemen harassing gyaru since 2008. The popular Center-gai McDonalds closed early. Dancing was banned and clubs shrank. There became much less safe-space gathering places for lots of gyaru. Again and again older gyaru lament how Shibuya has died and keep saying “let’s go back” but without any real game plan or safe space.

 

And those are my reasons and I’m sticking to them.

However Tokyo Fashion tweeted this and it got me riled up again.

As it did several who are familar with gyaru fashion in Japan (shouts out to sutewi and Atashida).

Edit: Fashionsnap.com article on 2,000 people queueing up for Shibuya 109’s fukubukuro event this year. Last year’s post only talks about line length so it’s hard to compare.

Reasons I feel that tweet is suspect:

1) Shibuya 109 stopped equaling gyaru. My biggest complaint. Many big brands now how stores across Tokyo and it’s much easier for people to go to their closest store. Shibuya 109 is probably not it because it’s expensive to live in Shibuya or surrounding areas.

So even if you like a brand inside Shibuya 109 on a cold day you’re going to the one that’s less crowded. Liz Lisa even understood this and sent their LLGals to all over stores in Tokyo. They also didn’t offer a 109 special only fukubukuro like they did last year, only a special color way.

 

2) (As wonderfully pointed out by Atashida) Shibuya 109 is a crumbling old mall.

 

shibuya109-old

 

It was created in 1979 (photo source). Surely it’s a beacon of architecture and seen in many movies as how Tokyo looks, but it’s also a very old mall. It has gone very few renovations because its cylindrical design is limiting. It’s a very narrow mall and feels crowded even on a weekday. Sure the stores themselves go through renewals but the building itself has stayed the same.

On fukubukuro days it’s obscenely crowded. There’s only the option of two elevators and one escalator. For 8 floors that’s a very small amount.

 

It’s also badly lit

 

shibuya-109-stores-dance-by-lds sneak-garula-2

 

Aging tile and bad lights don’t help a lot of the stores.

 

3) Shinjuku Lumine EST has been getting all the big names and flashy stores. Shinjuku Lumine EST is directly to connected to Shinjuku station, the busiest rail station in Tokyo. It’s extremely convenient to get to for Western Tokyo dwellers.

Lumine EST has been a mall since the 60s however  it’s gone through so many renovations, the most recent being 2008. It’s also a very wide space and gyaru brands occupy the easy access stores that are floor level just outside the East Exit gates of JR Shinjuku station. Less than a minute after stepping outside a train you’re in at Rodeo Crowns without any weather to worry about.

 

rady-ladies-renewal

Rady during its renewal. Check out the open area walkways and well lit space.

 

Rady opened in Shinjuku Lumine EST in 2012. It made the news by making 39,800,000 yen on its first day combined with its webshop and 8,100,000 yen its first day in Shibuya Lumine EST.

To translate that to USD Rady made $81,000 in one opening day in Shinjuku Lumine EST at the exchange rate in 2012. In one day!

Rady currently reports profits from only its Shinjuku Lumine store as 60,000,000yen monthly. About $500k a month. From one store. It made newspaper articles. Including back in 2012 when it was known was the 150million yen in one month web brand. Or translated to $1,500,000 a month by 2012 standards. Yup 1.5 million dollars, one webstore one brand.

Sister brand for petite clothing Michell Macaron made 5,100,000 yen on its first day also in Shinjuku Lumine EST.

Even though both founders are ex-Ageha models which is tied to gyaru.  They opened it near the hostess quarters in Kabukicho. The more Ageha-centric area of Tokyo. Shibuya 109 wasn’t on her radar. Rady only decided to do a pop-up shop in Shibuya 109 once for a Hello Kitty event last year.

Both brands are part of the Agejo lifestyle promoters, the thing often discussed as a dying movement.

Coincidentally Lumine EST has cheaper rents than Shibuya 109. That must drive a lot of brands away from Shibuya 109. Shinjuku Lumine EST also houses brands that may be too old for the younger Shibuya 109 crowd, but the aging Oneegyaru can also buy and mix into their wardrobes. Like Honey Salon by Foppish or Lily Brown or Mercury Duo. It’s another reason someone may choose to flock to Lumine over 109.

When people tell me gyaru is dying I tell them the Onee brands aren’t hurting. Rienda, Datura, Rady, and the like are all still being loved by an aging set of gyaru that still have money. You tell me if making $81,000 is in one day is dead. Rady is clearing house and ex-Ageha model Shizuka Mutoh herself founded it. The aging gyaru is where gyaru brands should be looking.

 

4) The rise of on-line shopping. Who wants to wait in line for a fukubukuro when you can order them all online. Weeks before they come out. Brands have all recognized this and that’s why there’s been such good online fukubukuro sales, through big markets like runway channel, fashionwalker, mobacolle and Shibuya109’s own net shop. They’re still getting the profits and don’t have to as heavily staff their stores which means less overhead. Meaning brands are making more money if they do it online. You think they don’t realize this??

While brands I have no doubt understand that the well dressed and clever shop staff sell more merchandise, they know most buyers in early January are only heading to a store for one thing: fukubukuro.

 

5) I’m damn sick of gyaru being a target when its just a symptom. Reporters are so quick to point out the problems of gyaru fashion to the lagging Shibuya 109 sales, the magazines shutting (previously discussed) or the closing of brands (more on this later). Instead there should be a much broader talk about how teen fashion brands are hurting in Japan and brands in general.

 

I’m confident many lolita brands are holding on because of

1 – An aging commited audience who can still afford and stick with them. (Youth moving to adult fashion now)

2 – They have shut down their expansion desires closing their San Francisco, Shanghai and Paris shops. Instead concentrating on the stores they have. Or offering pop-ups overseas to sell items in Paris and New York.

3 – Events like tea parties across the world that help promote and give buyers a reason to buy and wear their brands.

4 – Create a group of lolita heads for brands that promote the brand and act as pseudo-producers.

5 – They looked to a Western audience and helped make ordering easier to foreign buyers.

Lolita has been smart across the brands and yet I bet if there were peaks at their sales records it’d be a steady but not growing situation. Marui One which used to be the lolita beacon in Tokyo is no longer. Marui Annex is now rising in its place but fills only two floors with lolita brands (this may be because of competition with Harajuku stores of the same brand).

If you want to distance hime from gyaru and lolita Jesus Diamante has closed stores and La Parfait is only online.

Harajuku punk and rock brands like Banana Fish and Black Peace Now all bit the dust in 2013. ManiaQ the Fairy kei brand closed after 15 years. Several big stores in Takeshita are closing or have closed and popular tights brand Avantgarde is closing their shop in Harajuku.

 

…and yet you do not hear peeps about the death of Harajuku fashion even though Takeshita has been bulldozed to make room for a Monki and other fast fashion. Misha Janette tackled the problem with Harajuku in a three part series. Yet it leaves me thinking that its a bit narrow, all fashion is hurting.

 

But to sum up this part, gyaru hurting is a symptom not the full illness. It’s just an easy target and a narrow one. 

 

Gyaru Dying article in Yomimuri

So I did reply to Tokyo Fashion and tell them I disagreed, and they sent me to an article bout Shibuya 109’s woes which I appreciated. However I’ve got bones to pick with it, too. So let’s go into it shall we?

Sales Figures

Originally published for the Yomimuri Shimbun the title is Japan sees a decline in Gyaru fashion style. I’m going to refute some items in it and agree with a few.

 

Total sales at Shibuya 109 fashion complex in Tokyo, dubbed a gyaru fashion mecca, peaked at 28.65 billion yen (about $289 million) in the year ending March 2009. But its sales for the year ending March 2014 are projected to be 18.8 billion yen, or about 60 percent of the 2009 figure.

 

No denying the numbers. Sales are lagging. It’s an old mall (see above). However I reckon numbers across all teen oriented malls are down. 2013 figures say La Foret made 12.9 billion yen.  Edit: Sales reports for LaForet for 2012 were 13.1 billion yen. So a tick down from the year before. Japan Times stated for Japanese department stores “annual sales at major department stores have fallen continuously for the past 13 years.”

Edit: As a note Shibuya 109 eyes rebound in second quarter with 5% increase in sales due to renewals and new stores.

But does that mean Shibuya 109 clothing sales have weakened or its clientele are leaving for nicer and nearer stores of the same brands?

Stores closing and bankrupt

 

“Love Boat” shop on the first underground floor of the complex closed its doors…. Three days later, Orches Co., which operated a popular “Lip Service” shop at the 109 complex, filed for court protection with a debt of 6 billion yen — though the shop itself is still in business there.

 

Love Boat closing is a big sign however the company seemed to be making some not-so-smart choices. They had a four story mega mall in Harajuku that was both out of the way and overreaching for the brand as shown by Tokyo Fashion. Four story mega mall? The rent alone must’ve been huge much less to make a profit with such a niche series of brands. Craziness! I thought it was craziness when I saw it. Love Boat also put out very basic and boring designs for 2010 onwards.

When people talk about clothing companies close I often wonder did a) they financially screw up? b) did they drive away customers with bad designs?

I’d like to point to Love Boat and say yes to both. They were boring and too easy to jump onto trends (see problems above) and yet their prices didn’t reflect the basicness of their clothing. Love Boat closing is sad however that doesn’t mean Love Boat left Shibuya 109. Actually LDS and b-gyaru brand LB-03 (which means LOVE BOAT – 03) which also sells Dance by LB-03, are both still in Shibuya 109. Both brands are still popular with their group  (to note: LDS also operates a store in Shinjuku Lumine EST).

Lip Service parent company bankruptcy is interesting. However I wonder how much that has to do with brands that aren’t Lip Service. Orches also owns Juriano Jurrie and JSG. JSG is now defunct and hung on way past the time when haade was a big movement in gyaru and not the biggest of its time. Juriano Jurrie was a discount rock brand that never really had an identity after that 2010 rock boom. It no longer has brick-and-mortar stores and just sells via the webstore.

Orches has smartly restructured with a clean on-line site and keeping Lip Service and discount brand Ciel by Lip Service as their heads. And now they only have Lip Service actual stores. By the way Lip Service has 28 actual stores in Japan and 10 overseas in China and Hong Kong. That is a heck of a comeback.

 

Four Points to Declining Gyaru

 

I believe there are four reasons for gyaru fashion’s rapid decline. First, the number of gyaru themselves dropped due to the low birth rate. Secondly, young women came to spend their time and money not in Shibuya but at shopping centers like Aeon Co. malls in their local areas. Thirdly, gyaru also became attracted to “fast fashion” brands such as H&M and Forever21, which respectively entered the Japanese market in 2008 and 2009. Finally, middle and high schools started tightening rules including bans on dying hair brown after a period of relaxed education policy.

 

Bolded by me.

 

1. Low Birth Rate – To me is the most BS argument and its used always in discussing any declining thing in Japan. I do think low birth rate is hurting Japan but it should hurt all of teen fashion. Not just gyaru. And the low birthrate didn’t kill 2009 sales in Shibuya 109, I’m calling BS. If you’re comparing a 20 year change then sure.

And just because I’m going to say maybe a key demographic is a 16 year old girl. So 2009 would be 1993 born and 2014 would be 1996. Japan birthrate was 1.46. 1996 was 1.38.

 

japan-birthrate

 

1993 and 1996. Look at that chart. It’s a blip. Which is why I call BS. 2005 babies will be concerning but I don’t feel that age is YET problematic for teen fashion. Use declining birthrate in 10 years and over a larger span of time.

But again this across all teens, so all teen fashion SHOULD but will be hurting. Gyaru isn’t the only style in town. Maybe elderly fashion will be awesome and they’ll be some Japanese Advanced Style blog?

 

2. Staying away from Shibuya 109 and closer to home – I completely agree that this is happening. Popteen Cafe opening in Chiba LalaPort is a big example of this. However this ignores that gyaru brands have expanded way past Shibuya 109 and many malls cater to their needs (again Shibuya 109 doesn’t equal gyaru). That doesn’t mean a decline in gyaru as the article is titled, it means instead its easier for teens to get their fashion. That seems like anti-decline to me.

 

3. “Fast Fashion” brands Forever 21 and H&M have moved into Japan – I do see this as a problem. I see it as a problem to all ages of fashion. However many gyaru and lolita brands encourage brand loyalty through novelties, meet-and-greets and other items. I do believe many people across Japan are buying less of brands and more of a mix between fast fashion and brands. So the profits will decline. Gyaru brands also are quick to change their style to this Zara, H&M basics style and it hurts the brands themselves.

 

japan-gyaru-blea

 

4. Stricter high school standards – Something I hadn’t considered and I think is a valid point. However Japanese schools do have a variety of choices on dress codes. A lot of girls who are interested in gyaru however go to Blea high school. And many girls interested in alternative teen fashion dress up only on weekends. However I think the desire to be flashy has declined among youth.

Popular Fig & Viper producer Alisa Ueno in an interview for Blea said she went to a strict high school but outside of it she said “I want to be free! I want to be more fashionable!” I just don’t feel like this is currently how many teens are thinking now, one of the reasons I think is AKB48 and other teen singers (as pointed out above).

 

The Rise of Larme

 

According to a recent survey conducted by WWD Japan on 150 young women in Tokyo for its September 8 issue, conventional gyaru fashion seems to have “grown up” into girlie or other types of fashion. Young women today apparently prefer less makeup and simple fashion with undyed hair.

 

150 isn’t a big sample size, but I do agree. However there are brands within Shibuya 109 that are catering to that and many brands inside Shibuya 109 itself have moved to much simpler fashion and quieted make-up. I think gyaru brands are accepting this trend. Even inside big holdouts such as MA*RS and DIA there is a change in how they are flashy. The hair is less big and the nails are often gel. And I’ve talked about this before in 2013 …is the new gyaru

 

The spread of social networks is also said to have made them seek more realistic styles.

 

The initial print run of girlie-style fashion magazine “Larme,” which was launched in September 2012, totaled 35,000. But with print runs now at 200,000, it can be said that the current trend of late-teen fashion is summed up in the magazine.

 

This is true and I think many gyaru brands will try to fit into Larme magazine. The sweet gyaru fashion will turn to Larme to get its style across and I feel this is not problematic.

However, I think this article ignores across the whole board the economy and the flow of fashion along with the other reasons at the top I believe gyaru is declining.

 

The Japanese economy is taking a hit in general 

To me this is one of the bigger ignored problems when talking about Japanese fashion. Especially those brands and magazines that concentrate in Japan.

Sure Larme magazine is doing well when other gyaru magazines have failed. There were too many magazines and they did some big mistakes to bore their target readers. Larme magazine has a successful formula for now and is building popular model icons and doing brand collaborations which helps them bring in ad revenue. I’d also like to note that Larme’s model age is a bit older than youth fashion. Risa being 25, Amo 23, and Yui Kanno at 27.

But Japanese articles often dance around the issue of the poor economy. Discussing the poor economy seen as not being friendly to the government and the press in Japan actually aren’t as free to say what they want. The poor economy makes these articles like Japanese SalaryMen have less pocket money. This trickles down to teens who also want to shop. Fewer teens, less pocket money. Easy math.

 

Fashion has a natural flow of expansion and extremes to contraction and lows

Currently I think there is a contraction in fashion and a low. Will globalization hurt this and continue this trend? I’m unsure but I feel this is across all fashion. There’s a need for a more low-key approach to style. Minimalism? Otona Kawaii? Sides of the same coin that mean a restriction and simplicity to how people are viewed.

 

I started writing this post at 2:00 and it’s now 7:00 and my hand hurts and there was lots of rambling. Maybe Definitely I made a few mistakes. However I wanted to clarify some issues I’ve found with how gyaru fashion and in general youth fashion is being portrayed and why there’s more one way to look at the issue.

Edit: added a few more details and such, still  a ramble. TLDR? Basically: It’s not just gyaru. All youth fashion has troubles, malls stop being fashionable as they get old and less trendy, the brands and genres aging with their customers are successful ones, and brand expansion and success should be determined by clientele and economic woes. :cheery:

 

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25 Comments

  1. January 3, 2015 / 9:36 pm

    Really interesting post! I’ve only been living in Japan for 3 months but it my time here I’ve only seen two girls who I think would classify as gyaru but so many lolitas, even in places outside Tokyo like Kamakura. Looks like lolita as a style is standing the test of time far better.

    • Mitsu
      January 3, 2015 / 10:00 pm

      I’m really curious about because I see few lolita. My bestie is a lolita but dresses in a very otome-seiso way everyday and only lolita for events. I also hope to never make my blog a lolita vs gyaru thing. I hope both live forever but also I hope they both please their customers at the same time. If they stop doing that they should stop being brands :)

      Do you not often see ladies like this? http://universal-doll.com/2013/12/shop-staff-snap-58-rienda-in-shinsaibashi-opa-osaka/ I see them quite often :) It’s oneegyaru styling and not maybe the tans and leopard you may be looking for? It has 24 stores in Japan and another 20 group stores under the Shel’lter brand.

  2. A
    January 3, 2015 / 9:59 pm

    Love this! Amazing post!

    1. WTF was this LDS/Love Boat mega store in Harajuku? They’re not fucking Zara or H&M ffs. Obviously they’d have financial problems sooner or later with this kind of OTT spending.
    2. It’s pretty clear Lumine est is where it’s at. There, you’ll find pretty much every single popular 109 brand PLUS all the onee-gyaru brands PLUS, as you pointed out, it is much more modern, more easily accessable and more attractive to all the brands. There’s also the Ikebukuro Parco which also has pretty much all the brands you’d find in 109.
    3. LOL @ this birth-rate excuse. I mean, I don’t think it’ll be a good excuse even 10 years from now. Just look at the Youkai Watch phenomenon with its hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. And what’s the target? Kids that were born like 6 years ago. Not to mention all the other huge little kids franchise. And Nicola magazine, for tween girls, seems to be doing fine, and so does Repipi Armario and Pink Latte and that tween girl fashion mall (Solado) in Harajuku so… yeah…
    4. I agree the future is Larme-kei. I mean, even 109 used Risa in their Halloween campaign and the Larme girls are everywhere. This “girly sweet look” has been popular for awhile now (I never lived in Japan but it’s been years since I’ve been tracking Japanese girls blogs/Instas etc and I remember Liz Lisa, Pinky Girls, Coquettish*Tiara etc being hugely popular, not too mention the Agejo style was really hime, sweet-like too) and Larme has finally captured this in an accessible way (Ageha, which was also hugely successful and kind of went into the same direction, was much less marketing-friendly with its whole association with the night/entertainment business etc). Also, unlike the past teen fashion mags, Larme does not limit itself to an specific neighborhood (even though people say Larme is more Harajuku-oriented, probably because of AMO and Risa’s association to the area) or even to a specific age range which fits the current panorama much better. Nowadays, girls are not looking solely to an especific area or a especific shopping building nor are they identifying themselves as part of a specific tribe and Larme captures that in a way I think.
    5. I don’t think people are focusing on Harajuku that much because there’s been several cases of hugely successful new boutiques opening in the last few years (WEGO and Spinns, which are huge chain-stores but also Bubbles, etc. Not too mention Candy Strippers, Milk etc. seem to be holding well) and Harajuku-kei magazines seem to be holding pretty well, with Zipper and Choki Choki Girls and HR and even CUTiE is returning to its Harajuku roots with their renewal. At the same time I agree with all your points, I can’t really blame the media for their focus on this whole “gyaru is a dying breed” posts. Just because the decline of 109 coupled with SIX gyaru magazines going under in the last year (seven if you count Majesty Japan) paints a really grim picture. And I mean, yeah, the style is obviously going through a crisis, with all the gyaru magazines going under and most of the remaining ones toning down their looks drastically (Ranzuki and Popteen) but, as you explained so well, the situation is much more complex.

    At the same time I’m loving this post , I’m a bit mad cause I’ll be opening a Japanese fashion blog soon and, even though it is not gyaru-focused, I wrote several gyaru-related articles already. And omg, so many things that I wrote about you explained so well in this post that, by the time I finally open my blog it’ll seem like I’m just rehashing your post lol. I am surprised you mentioned BLEA cause I was even doing research on them just today, haha.

    But seriously, thanks for the post!

    • Mitsu
      January 3, 2015 / 10:23 pm

      3. Yea it bothers me and although I see the aging population as a problem to Japan. It seems like the declining birthrate is a bigger problem in general that deals with gender issues and financial stability. It’s obvious the preteens are still a big audience with Seventeen magazine doing so well right now edging out Popteen and others for teen eyes. But I do wonder if the big money will switch to 20-30 year olds.

      4. I just kind of wonder about tracking fashion through a magazine. Magazines have continuously had declining figures and Larme for selling 200k is a 4th of what Sweet Magazine sells even if magazines were an issue. I think magazines will be facing the digital issue and so many of the girls can just look at coordinates that Amo or others are wearing at their blogs and not worry to much about the magazine. I often thought Larme was Harajuku-leaned with Amo and Risa, but with Amo changing. If anything I feel Daikanyama is the area that Larme portrays the most. Or a girl who may shop somewhere else but be ritzy in Daikanyama. And according to the Larme magazine survey she’s only 3rd in popularity of the models. Risa didn’t rank.

      5. Wego and Spinns are good examples however they’re edging out actual DC Brands. To me they’re H&M lite. Nadia has a big presence but mostly its a select shop for other brands. lilLilly is a cool brand with ties to Swankiss and I really hope it does well and stays in harajuku. It’s my pick for newest original brand for the regular market and I’d love to see more brands like that liven up Harajuku than 80 wegos and wonder rockets. Candy Stripper and Milk I’m unsure about their sales or growth and decline in stores. I haven’t really looked at them since tbh I feel Candy Stripper has had some weak collections lately. Although I’ve said it before and say it again Candy Stripper and Milk charge big prices to teens in a declining economy I am always hesitant about it until I see sales records.

      I also wonder about the lack of new brands. I mean this for Shibuya/Shinjuku too. Punyus, Fig and Viper and Evris are really the only newer ones I can name. Rady had an online presence getting influence a long time before store opening. Same with Michell. Aymmy is a lovely idea for Aomojikei but it’s still not an actual store.

      Zipper is not a good one to point out since it sells 82,000 issues, it’s not really a lot. Close to closing if they don’t have enough ad revenue. It makes me have concerns for its future. Harajuku sided Kera actually does much better at 120,000 and Cutie is billed as sweet’s sister so more otona-kawaii aomojikei mix and sells 170,000 issues. Gyaru centric Jelly sells 270,000.

      The decline of 109 seems to be overhyped when La Foret is probably also taking a hit (found info, yeah sales decline too!). The magazine issue I agree with but I think many of them made bad editorial choices and there were just too damn many of them. Vivi (260k) and Jelly are staying the course backed by very popular models though :)

      I just don’t feel its gyaru only. I really wish I could find more La Foret sales returns among others. It’s youth sales declining IMHO.

      Please let me know your blog, I’d love to read more of it :)

      • A
        January 3, 2015 / 11:50 pm

        I completely agree with you about Lafore. I mean, I heard so many people saying Laforet is more empty lately. But then, Laforet was never the media sensation that 109 was and it’s always been a bit more upscale (I’d say their rival was probably Shibuya Parco) so they’re being spared of the negative publicity 109 is getting. But heck, instead of this whole “109 is dead! Gyaru is dead!” I wish the media would cover Lumine est and the like which seems to be booming. And yes, Jelly seem to be doing super super well and their models are really popular…. I even heard of their november issue breaking some kind of record sales thanks to their Yasui Rei cover.

        that said, re: circulations. i never trust circulation data from ABC japan ever since I’ve heard from several people that work in Japanese media (especifically advertisement) that they’re all bullshiti and manipulated by the publishers. ABC tracks the number of PRINTED copies of a magazine but, from what I heard, those printed copies differ greatly from what is actually sold (especially by the big publishing groups ) so no one really trust circulation numbers from JABC. instead, people trust Japan Media Data numbers but i feel it’s a little more difficult to get access to them. but circulation is just an aspect anyway, right? cause you have a magazine like Seventeen and they’ll ALWAYS be the preferred media from general advertisers because Seventeen readers are middle class and the magazine has a squeaky-clean reputation. compare that to koakuma ageha, for example. in 2007, ageha was outselling every other mag and yet most big advertisers wouldn’t touch it because of what it was associated with (of course, back then they were still doing amazingly well with all their tie-in products and the niche brands/products)

        that said, I don’t think zipper is in trouble. for me, the first sign of a magazine being in trouble is when they stop with the furoukus. like, this is a dead giveaway that they are cutting costs. zipper still gives out super elaborate freebies every month and, judging by those street snaps sites, they seem relatively popular with young girls in harajuku. and those Kera numbers seem crazy high, omg, I’d think they be dead by now cause the magazine just seem so dated. but even though i personally feel like zipper is doing OK, i still think creatively they’re quite bad right now… it’s all loud colors and super tacky/young-looking…. they had a really, really cool vibe and a much more mature feel 10 years ago, just looking at their cover it’s obvious… but oh well, their readership nowaday is super young so i guess they gotta do what they gotta do to survive.

        cutie, on the other hand, stopped completely with the furoukus (quite a big deal cause takarajimasha is crazy about them) and went through a complete overhaul on the august issue of last year, with a new editor, new models and everything. they stopped completely with the popteen-like fashion, rola covers and the like and now they’re totally back to harajuku. although what they really seem to be doing is trying to capitalize on the larme boom cause everything on the mag is very sweet, pastel like nowadays (although with a big more edge than larme, which i think is nice given cutie’s history). the brands they’re featuring now are lilLily, Very Brain, Milk, Candy Stripper, E!Hyphen Bon Bon, Mery Jenny, Emily Temple is Cutie and also jouetie, Ank Rouge and Katie. they completely left any pretense of being Sweet “younger sister” (which basically meant Popteen tbh) behind.

        I completely agree with AMO and Risa being really Daikanyama-like (especially cause they’re so into Katie… although I always kind of associated Katie with Harajuku, even though it’s in Daikanyama) but then AMO is really into those Cannabis Ladies-type of brands too so I guess she still has some Harajuku influence. but I could never imagine AMO at Zipper/Kera nowadays, in that sense she really left Harajuku behind (although she still features heavily in Zipper cause they want to cash-in on her popularity).

        and it’s so shocking to me Risa was not among the most popular models. was this poll done some time ago? cause until the May issue I felt like she wasn’t pushed as hard but nowadays she is literally in all of their covers (3 covers out of the last 4, one of them solo), get all the biggest paid editorials, is featured heavily in all larme-related adverts/promotional campaigns and not too mention she has the biggest social media followers. I’d easily guess she’d be the most popular by far. and I felt like the only models everyone seem to associate with Larme nowadays are Risa, Yui Kanno, AMO and Mai Shirashi (but Mai Shirashi is also Ray’s main model). you left me really curious about who ranked (actually, i’m super curious about the whole larme reader polls thing) :wink:.

        btw, what about the #n magazine? it’s from EGG’s publisher and the yone guy that founded EGG back in 1995 seems to be heavily involved. i’m curious about it even if i feel like this whole neogyaru thing is a bit forced (and i remember reading in your twitter f&v is not even doing that well right now).

        of course i’ll let you know when my blog is open! your blog is such an inspiration. nowadays, when i’m writing my posts, i find myself going through so many of your old posts looking for some specific info (especially when i was writing about gals) and i’m loving re-reading (or reading some for the first time). it’s so amazing how much valuable info you shared with us in the last few years! thank you soo much! and it always make me so happy when there’s a new post. please keep up with the amazing work! :heartcat:

        • A
          January 3, 2015 / 11:51 pm

          lol i’m so sorry about the size of my comment :oops:

  3. January 3, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I wish I had the knowledge that you do because I always want to rip the hair out of my head to defend gyaru but you did it great here. Thanks for all of your hard work!!

  4. M
    January 4, 2015 / 3:23 am

    Reading this article was very interesting. I love Japanese Fashion and I always admired Gyaru Fashion, despite that I am more on the Lolita Fashion side.

    I just wanted to add to some facts on why are lolita brands holding:
    The Lolita Brand realised the western market and most of them are shipping internationally by now, which is of course helped. As well as partnering up which resellers in western countries.
    But for example Baby, the stars shine bright has shops in Paris and San Fransicso and opened a second one in NY in 2014. Some others do Pop Up Stores in Paris for example Putumayo and Angelic Pretty.

    But I agree that all fashions have troubles, the biggest for Lolita in my opinion are the Replicas. I’m not sure how and if Replicas affect the Gyaru as well.

    • Mitsu
      January 4, 2015 / 10:41 am

      Is the San Francisco shop not closed? I just saw that they just did a Pop-up store in Paris which is a lovely idea for brands and I wish more Japanese brands did the pop-up store mentality. Is the New York store a pop-up?

      Replicas I can see definitely hurting the lolita market, but it maybe not their core fans. Is it more the people who are getting into lolita and see replicas as an easy start? I do wonder more if Japan buyers are more prone to Closet Child and other resellers. With now the volume of work that such long time lolita brands have done there’s a lot more to resell and thus hurting the brands who cannot profit off of it?

      I don’t think replicas cut into gyaru brands as much. The price differential and the pure volume gyaru brands put out makes them harder to replicate as much of. I think maybe it might hurt sales in China however many gyaru brands have stores in China and seem to be doing okay.

  5. January 4, 2015 / 4:06 am

    I always love reading your thoughts on gyaru and fashion culture in Japan, you are always so on point!

    I recently read over this article about the new asobi system cube clock thing (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/12/25/lifestyle/gets-landmark/#.VKkZinvw2KA) and I’d love to hear your thoughts. I tried to organise some of mine but I’m a bit scatter brained at the moment and can’t seem to get past how much I dislike Sebastian Masuda to get a decent sentence out! x_x

    • Mitsu
      January 4, 2015 / 11:04 am

      Thank you for thinking so, although I feel this is definitely a topic up for debate so I’m happy people feel differently if they do. I’m glad it sparked conversation :)

      Asobi System’s president has done well for himself. He currently has models big magazines for Kera and mer as well as Kyary but I think he’s making these odd statements like:
      “Rather than people coming to Japan for a holiday, or on a whim, we thought it would be beneficial if visitors could be informed about our local culture and then use that as their reason to travel here”, says Asobisystem President Yusuke Nakagawa. “Harajuku is a place that has given birth to so much culture over the years — it’s a place that has no conventions, no rules.”

      Actually that’s being changed recently since Harajuku brands are being forced out. However I think La Foret has done an excellent job offering pop-up opportunities like MYOB as a success.

      I also think the creatives from Harajuku are moving to places like Koenji and Shimokitazawa where they won’t be forced to move because of a Forever 21 or such. So maybe the foreigners whose money they want it’s a great idea and there’s always tourists clogging up most areas of Harajuku. However I think the actual creativeness and whimsy is hard to keep.

      “The exclusively male panel of nine” Yay men deciding what has been a largely women driven craze. Yippee…

      My wish for Harajuku has been this. If only they could use some of that 500 million for it.

      To create a designers collective shop in Harajuku. Make it a museum where people can look at the craftsmen and designers little labs. Behind closed doors artists could work but through windows tourists and not can file in and check on what the artists and designers are doing. Showing them a little behind the creative scenes. I know a lot of art-and-craft museums do this and have artists who get a booth for six months or a year. It gives them a creative space and encourages them to work on their designs. Artists collective could fuel each other and they could sell at a shop below. Design Festa, does this similarly but mostly with artists but it’s only a show-space. I am speaking more of craftsmen and clothing designers and for a longer period of time keeping them there. Have a market of kawaii :)

      And another thing. I have serious doubts that even though they’re spending money selling this Cool Japan they’ll ignore the youth culture of Shibuya. It’s always Harajuku only. Even though the youth culture of Shibuya sold a an image that was very well selling for a damn long time.

  6. January 4, 2015 / 8:14 am

    Very well thought out, I always enjoy your posts about this kind of stuff.
    I definitely agree with SHIBUYA 109 =/= GYARU and that’s a big thing some media/journalists fail to recognize.
    Thank you for writing this!

    BTW small correction – Listen Flavor hasn’t closed down, I think you meant Banana Fish (RE: Harajuku punk brands that bit the dust)

    • Mitsu
      January 4, 2015 / 10:37 am

      Thank you so much for this update! I knew it sounded wrong in my head, but when I ramble I just for it :) Found the link and another Harajuku brand that shut.

  7. January 4, 2015 / 11:33 am

    Just as a side notice: I don’t know which Lolita store closed in San Francisco but in Paris, it was Angelic Pretty that closed and it was because AP Japan treated the Paris shop poorly from the beginning. For example the shop had to buy dresses for a much too high dealers price, so they had to sell the dress for 400€, while you could get the same dress dircetly from Japan for only 300€ including shipping and 30% taxes! Also the shop owners were bad, not answering Mails etc. So the shop was just bad and that’s why they closed.

    About your post: Thank you for this deep insight into Gyaru! As someone who lives in Europe and never was in Japan, I only read here and there that Gyaru is dying, but I never actually see it, because there aren’t many Gyarus in Europe anyway. I would even say that Gyaru is getting more popular in Europe because there are more and more people sharing informations about Gyaru and more japanese people are offering reliabe shopping services.
    So I find your statement interesting that not only Gyaru brands have problems but all brands have problems! And I also agree with you that Lolita brands maybe don’t have such problems because they also focus more on their international market to get more costumers!

  8. January 5, 2015 / 10:55 am

    Definitely another interesting read from you! I don’t have much to contribute myself, but Liz Lisa did do a limited 109 color for the mini trunk this year. It was a pink version of the 15000yen striped mini trunk fukubukuro (online and non-109 stores had a yellow-ish version). That would be akin to the 109 limited blue color floral trunk from 2014 but I don’t think the mini one was as big of a grab… A lot of people are having issues with Liz Lisa fukubukuro this year (myself NOT included but whatever) so I think that’s the least of their problems but this is getting a bit off topic now. Not sure if that was even important but I just wanted to say, thanks for taking the time to research and write! :love:

  9. KC
    January 6, 2015 / 5:34 am

    great post! though it made me really sad to read…

    however, as much as i like gyaru, sometimes i just think, fashion changes. things come and go. and it’s normal. and i see people holding on so hard to “what gyaru was” and sometimes i shake my head and wonder if that’s really right? I mean, of course, people should dress however they want. but like, it was funny when we had the gyaru meet in shibuya the other day, people were taking pics like we were a tourist attraction and going “omg! gyaru!” lol. i dunno. i just wish it was 2010 again lol. how did time fly by so fast? i am old… ww

    i also feel sad all brands look the same now. It doesn’t make me want to buy their clothes, and yeah, i’d rather shop at H&M lol.

  10. Chacha
    January 8, 2015 / 10:24 pm

    It’s sad but true,
    I just came back from Shibuya and all the girls are so dressed down
    I got my nails suuuper done with danglies, obnoxious rhinestones, kirakira to death and all the shops staff were so impressed because their nails were bare, WHICH IS INSANE to me
    Even at the Gal cafe the girls were suuper dressed down it was so sad

    In addition, when I went in to talk about lucky packs everyone told me it’s better to order them online ahead of time and get it shipped to my Japan address. I was so surprised because I’ve always wanted to deal with the huge lines and rush of lining up and getting a lucky pack.

    It’s very interesting, only gyaru I saw were random girls from black diamond
    AND one girl from black diamond came up to me in cecil mcbee (she works there) and told me she was a part of the gyarusa
    She was super dressed down for work I didn’t even recognize her!

    It’s sad! All the stores are selling the same styles too, and they’re very toned down
    lip service, egoist, CHUXX, datura… couldn’t tell the difference, same merch different tags

  11. Svena
    January 11, 2015 / 7:11 am

    Wow!!! I really admire your dedication to fashion and gyaru and stuff! To the point that you can even analyse facts and figures! Props to your passion and hope that you will continue to rock and roll out new and fantastic content like this!!
    I never actually took gyaru so seriously because of school and all and I’m overseas… but your blog will always be my link to gyaru brands and all things japanese :))

    Just wanted to let you know that i REALLY appreciate all the effort you put into maintaining your blog! Must not be easy and thanks so much for giving your readers (like myself) an enjoyable and well-presented read every few days!

    Much love from Singapore! <3

  12. January 13, 2015 / 9:54 am

    Great article! As said, fashion and people keep changing, and it’s sad that almost all brands sell the same now (yeah, even in lolita fashion, lack of creativity can be a problem… -_- ) Although I’ve never been to Japan, I love reading this kind of articles (the more you know! :peace: )

  13. j
    July 8, 2016 / 7:02 am

    I agree with the idol boom (that is slowly dying off) being part of the causes but Kpop has been unpopular as of 2015, I wouldve agreed in 2011 or 2010 though.

    • Mitsu
      August 13, 2016 / 3:29 pm

      I think KPop is still popular and if anything it’s moved to the boy bands and it seems women want to dress like the boys are wearing in their videos. Not that I see any problem with that. :)

  14. Cidsa
    September 15, 2016 / 5:56 pm

    Sorry to comment on such an old article but I really enjoyed it! I was away from Japanese fashion for a little while and coming back has been a little sad for me. Everything has changed but it doesn’t seem to be for the better :(

    I still like to break out the Jesus Diamante pieces for an onee style (as well as lolita, goth and Takuya Angel stuff) but at 30 I’m starting to feel too old for it all. Ahh, I really hope the younger generations will have something fun in the future – fast fashion and basic stuff is just kinda blah to me. Actually, it’s not great for people my age either.. all boring boring :/

    • Rose
      January 26, 2017 / 1:47 am

      I agree with you and I am 30 as well. Now it`s 2017 I can say that gyaru is dead for sure and I live in Japan so I see it first hand. At stores the makeup selection is drastically more boring now and the thick sparkly big gyaru false lashes which used to be available everywhere are no longer sold, they only sell the sparse little natural false lashes even at the 100 yen stores its all sparse looking lashes. Forever21 and H&M stores have been put up in Shibuya and Harajuku and all the unique little brands alot of them have closed. And I never see a single gyaru on the streets or in public anywhere for a couple of years now here in Japan. Back in 2011 I used to see gyaru`s sometimes in public but now I never see them anymore. Shimamura`s group company store Avail used to sell gyaru clothes like ageha brand stuff but no longer do they have such clothes. The style I see everyone wearing now is big gaucho pants and oversized frumpy clothing that looks like grandma clothing with minimal makeup or some people where pastel with Larme kei and imitate Peko-chan. Peko-chan is a talento and with how she does her makeup (like 80s care bare style how she dresses and how she does her hair and makeup) and her favorite brand Bubbles which tookover the fashion scene. If you look at Liz Lisa`s website the girls modelling the clothes have their makeup like Peko-chan no longer gyaru makeup, I think that LizLisa has switched to Larme kei style.

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