I delayed on writing a post about #N the new Neogal magazine for reasons. I was exhausted from being sick, and more importantly I felt that there have been a lot of rants on this blog lately. Rants coming from positive places, but well it seemed this blog had gotten negative.
My whole belief system is if you put positivity out into the world you’ll get positivity back. This boils down to what I like to call “bitch karma”. If you’re a bitch it’ll always come back to you, so best stay positive and nice. Not saying I deserve a halo, but I’m trying. But there’s going to be a rant in this one, or at least me calling out stuff, so be warned.
#N the new Neogal Magazine Introduction
#N is the new NeoGal magazine that came out in November 2014. I thought it was a one-of or what the Japanese like to call “mooks” or magazine-books. However they are now doing shooting for #N issue two so I guess it’s official as a magazine now. NeoGal is a new genre in clothing in Japan and I’ve talked extensively about it since it’s creation in 2013.
Most first issue magazines in Japan show up in bookstores and if they’re successful they trickle down to the impulse purchases of conbinis. Instead I actually found #N at a convenience store right near my Tokyo hotel for 650 yen (same cost of AneAgeha, more expensive than Larme and Sweet). Being in a convenience store first makes it have some distribution weight to it. It’s published by Million Publishing (ミリオン出版株式会社) which is an arm of Taiyo Tosho which publishes Larme.
#N at first glance is quite different than other Japanese magazines. Its size is actually 2 CM shorter and 4 CM longer than other magazines. And unlike all other Japanese media which is read from right to left with the binding on the right. #N uses the Western style of left to right with the binding on the left. Personally it feels a bit gimmicky, but that the magazine thought deeply about size and way of reading is commendable.
NNight promoting the magazine featuring appearances by the three heads.
On the cover is former Ranzuki model and current Neogal icon: Natsumi Saito aka Natsumin. She strongly identifies as Neogal so she’s a perfect girl to put on the cover. She’s embarked on a pop music tour lately and currently derives her income from producing all sorts of teen consumed products. Natsumi Saito along with Fig and Viper producer Alisa Ueno and Evris producer Ayano Sasaki are the three current main models/heads of #N.
Really loved this street snap page in particular. I felt it shows a lot of the variance of Neogal in one page. Harajuku-FnV-Evris-Sly
Special shout out for Shibuya 109 Evris shop staff Marin who is the nicest shop staff. I have two shop snaps of her to come.
This girl Tokine got a full page spread. With good reason. Wow!
The magazine content itself feels half Western style and half Harajuku Fruits magazine style. There’s not much gyaru magazine influence in it. There are no brand highlights, make-up tutorials or coordinate tips. If anything the clothing is so far down the list, it’s actually more the real style of people that make up the majority. Or the it girls like the three heads who push Neogal.
Advertising clubs where there will be club snaps, but it’s really just native advertising and clubs paying.
The Western feeling is the enormity of ad space but done more sneakily Japanese style with native advertising pushing music or other consumables.
Two of six pages in the magazine that compromise just talking about clothing, hair or make-up.
A final review on #N
The magazine did feel a bit like instagram and used several model’s shots of instagram even. Maybe it reflects the more digital age. But instagram gives moments or pips of information, but doesn’t drive you to go back to your feed and look again at old photos. Instead it’s all about the new. #N left me feeling the same way, a magazine that’s easy to flip through but nothing that makes you open it again.
And thus far it’s only been an information and semi critique of #N and that’s all fine and good. But there’s just one little thing that I can’t ignore and #N highlights more for me about Neogal.
…and here’s where the calling out starts…
Neogal can be problematic and #N magazine only highlights that more
Neogal starters have always said they’re influenced by overseas, particularly Los Angeles in their style, or vintage. Alisa and Natsumi especially feel Neogal is LA looks with the
Oakland booty Tokyo foundation. And LA street style has been rooted in Black and Hispanic heritage, because Los Angeles street fashion is on the streets those streets have color. A lot of what Neogal likes has been in the Hispanic and Black communities for a while. Evris is a bit different (more Americana /Vintage) and Harajuku mixing is not as influenced but Fig and Viper and #N are definitely looking to LA.
And to say that Neogal is the only one poaching from these communities would be a lie, but it feels like they get a pass and it’s not a pass they should get. Especially not with the evidence below.
Inside #N magazine. Alisa Ueno appropriating and fakin’
She posted this on instagram and has since deleted. My favorite comment was: “She’s not about that life”
#N and Neogal brands and trend creators are just using that style and making cash. And worse using that style without any representation from the Black or Hispanic communities. Alisa Ueno goes to LA to shoot her catalogs. She’s been in Los Angeles and all over. She sees the population, the multiethnic population. She’s not ignorant, she’s just playing dumb. Her current catalogs including “Good Girl or Nah” aka popular Black slang featuring all white models.
Edit: While I’m on the subject her Desi appropriation isn’t cool either. Bindis and desi-style nose rings aplenty.
Shima Hair salon a NeoGal salon and being appropriating x 1,000.
Shima Hair salon is a big hair salon chain in Tokyo and closely associated with Neogal. Working on the heads of all 3 #N head girls regularly and putting out some of the hair trends used by Neogals. They are the Neogal hair salon and they are featured in #N magazine.
They do a big hair show each year and for 2014 they decided to choose “Unity” as their theme. It is a huge event held at a concert hall and sold out for 2014.
thug? really…. Check your racism. (Still on instagram)
All Japanese models in black hair styles. Alisa Ueno also posted this with #thug.
Do-rags, dreads, braids and baby hair.
On Shima official blogs I did not see any photos of this part of the hair show. There were only two parts, and this was the bigger part. Even though it featured big names like Alisa Ueno, Wei Sun, and Ellie Rose. That’s some serious model cash to pay out and not feature. Also on Shima youtube they’ve shown every hair show on their official youtube but no 2014. My guess, someone called out their bullshit.
Sadly #N magazine uses two icons for their Hair shoots in the same way.
Shima why are you making my fave problematic?
Other popular hair salon ISM gets in on the action.
A side note on BGyaru:
BGyaru has been spoken about different ways overseas when people see it. It literally means black gyaru. And some gals that love it will say they want to be black. Which would cause so many side eyes overseas the earth’s axis could shift. However B-Gyaru has been positive about black (American) culture. BGyaru lovers want to do hip hop dance. BGyaru I’ve met are knowledgable about old school hip hop and consider some of the icons as gods. They mostly praise a 90s aesthetic and strive to keep it alive. The love of hip hop especially has grown a very strong Japanese hip hop movement and on the dance side while breaking has lost its fun with American youth, Japanese youth are still into it. The reggae love is also strong in Japan and reggae artists have done collaborations with Japanese artists.
I know of one Black American girl who worked for Shibuya 109’s BGyaru brand Baby Shoop. They even helped her secure a Visa to stay and work. So while I would in some respects consider BGyaru to be problematic, there’s many examples where it’s celebratory. But no matter the positivity Ellie brought up a good point of “my race is not a trend”. Appropriation vs appreciation. Your call.
Again this it just one white American girl’s opinion, please feel free to insert your own.
My skin color is white and it’s one of the reasons I’ve put off this post for a while. I’m speaking from a place of privilege and my race does a lot of shitty things. But it is worse to ignore when appropriation and poaching is occurring instead of speaking out.
EDIT: I would love to hear the opinions/critiques and personal thoughts of Black and Hispanic girls about this. Although it’s a subject I’m bringing up I’d rather push the voices of those appropriated to speak on this subject into the forefront.
EDIT 2: Please read comments below. Lots of different opinions and lovely comments across the globe about these feelings.
I really hope parts of Neogal and N magazine clean up their mess, because it could be a good magazine.
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