So on my formspring, someone asked me to talk about Cocolulu. Which is great I’m all for suggestions of what to write about here, or random questions! Bring ’em on! :sparkle2:

To talk about Cocolulu is really to talk about the early trends of gal.


The history of gal: The term kogal (j wiki) started to be used in the early 1990s when teenagers started showing up to clubs. They were called kogals because they were in highschool (koukou) and because they were small/childish (ko). So they started in the clubs and wore the style that existed in the early club scene of the 90s. So while they were younger, they weren’t really setting their own fashion trend. This influx of people into the club scene made for huge clubs in Tokyo, both Avex run Velfarre and Juliana Tokyo (fansite).

The club style of the time was bodi-con and idol and these highschool girls dressed like that. Bottom left is the early days of bodicon, top right is the reopening of Velfarre in 2003.
You can still see feathery fans used in gal clubs today.

Then Amuro came along:

It all started in 1996 with Amuro Namie, a superb, 17-year-old siren and graduate of Okinawa’s Actor’s School. An excellent dancer, she performed on stage in a strapless bra and then in a pant suit with long jackets. Her look–golden skin, mother-of-pearl hair and carefully tweezed eyebrows–immediately became all the rage, launching the “tropical” style. Amuro Namie also introduced the vogue of “platform boots,” which she even wore in the middle of summer to make up for her short stature. – Sirens of Tokyo

Even in bodycon women were not necessarily tanning themselves, especially since the adult women doing this were mostly office workers (OLs). Now there is a bit of argument on whether Amuro latched onto ganguro or whether she originated it. The fact is Amuro Namie was just tanned because of her Okinawan descent and lifestyle, and it was also a craze for younger girls to tan and start enjoying surf clothes.

The rise of Cocolulu

In comes Cocolulu

Some Cocolulu history: Cocolulu is as old school gal as you can get. Starting in 1998 with a surf style. Cocolulu was a big part of the early gal surf scene, but quickly adapted to the style that Amuro preferred. Since its gal shift, they’re a brand directly aimed at teens. Even today most Co&Lu lovers are under 20. It’s a brand that’s not really trying to grow up as Emoda, Egoist and Lip Service are. It’s all about being a teen and enjoying the surf and sun. :sparkle:

Their t-shirts and parkas were the first to become popular, but their logo jeans which were introduced in 2003 are now very stylish. The Men’s side of Cocolulu opened last Spring in 2009. some info via

The amazing thing about Cocolulu is how much they’ve stayed the same throughout the years. While AlbaRosa became disgusted with the yamaba crowd using their surf wear and closed shop promising to never make another hibiscus print, Cocolulu has be doing the same through so many gal changes. While they may be more considered an Amekaji (American Casual) brand now, I think they’re more just their own style with bits of Amekaji thrown in the more hade (flashier) they’ve gotten. :star:

Some early Cocolulu from Egg magazine (date unsure) Not really different from this year

Randon fact: Cocolulu is one of the only 109 brands popular enough to have its on wiki page

Breaking down Cocolulu Style

webstoreblog | I don’t think it’s official, but a terribly cute mom and daughter Cocolulu blog can be found at cocolulumini

Let’s show how CocoLulu is now…

Now it’s known as being very “hade” aka meaning being flashy and colorful.

I would say this is a pic to show how heels and plaids are also popular and how the prints have gotten “hade”, but well… it’s really just to show how cute Egg Models Hi-bou, Kanako and Romihi are :oops:


One of the great things about Cocolulu is their wide range of sizes. Their pants can go from 24 to 28 (or really a 74 cm low waist to an 82 cm low waist).

Cocolulu 109 to overseas

malignita and I were working on a w*c 109 to overseas collab post, when I asked her if she could help on the Cocolulu one and she yet again proved her gal angel skills by finding some amazing pieces! I’m seriously unworthy, the girl is a genius at this! So if you love this, thank malignita :hearts2:


Engrish trucker cap – Yesstyle – $25.00
Hilarious Engrish trucket cap – Yesstyle – $25.00
Engrish baseball cap – Yesstyle – $25.00


Julius Print Hoodie – Karmaloop – $34.00
Print Hooded Pullover – Yesstyle – $32.00
Letterman Jacket with Hoodie – Yesstyle – $28.00
Track Jacket – Forever 21 – $19.90
Cleveland Hooded Jacket – Forever 21 – $22.90

Bright plaid – Delias – $24.80
Light plaid – Yesstyle – $22.00
Scoopneck Engrish tee – Yesstyle – $14.00
Longsleeve Engrish tee – Yesstyle – $18.00
Raglan Engrish tee – Yesstyle – $22.00
Glitter Graphic tee – Victorias Secret – $19.50
Stars and stripes tank – Forever 21 – $12.90
Heart printed tank – Victorias Secret – $24.50

Baggy Jeans – Yesstyle – $20.00
Levis 501 Rather ripped – Urban Outfitters – $78.00

Multi-colored hightop – Pastry – $49.99

Comic logo belt – JCPenny – $14.99
Or… any of the colored belts by LRG – Karmalopp – $20.00

Babyphat logo – DrJays – $6.99
RocaWear Baddest Chicky – DrJays – $9.00

Phew… so much color :sparkle2:  Not exactly my style, but it’s pretty fun to see when done right :upheart:

Kogal info sourced from several academic papers including:
:star2: The Emergence of Trendsetters for Fashions and Fads: Kogaru in 1990s Japan by Tadashi Suzuki and Joel Best in The Sociological Quarterly Vol. 44, No. 1 (Winter, 2003)
:star2: The sirens of Tokyo. By: Jolivet, Muriel, UNESCO Courier, 00415278, Jul/Aug2001

Gyaru Ressurgence and Mekas

I have occasionally run into the Japanese English-language fashion blog Mekas when it was still going. I however didn’t see their takes on NEW gal until a few days ago. In their well-laid out article Gyaru Ressurgence, they point out key points in why 109 and its brands are still a force to be reckoned with.

I’ll give you a moment to read and then we can discuss.^___^ *plays Jeopardy theme music*

First of all, I think it’s a well researched piece that got reprinted in The Japan Times, so obviously it has gotten peer-review praise.

As an aside…where did they find a picture of these 3?! The make is bordering on mamba and the hair, gurl get a hat for those roots. These three are looking a bit unkempt for 2008.
EDIT: Comment confirms this was an old photo. 8)

Contested claim 1

However its continuous discussion of the class system and gyaru belonging to the lowermiddle and poor classes is just bogus.

So the Gyaru may no longer be a “trend” like they were in the 1990s but a manifestation of lower middle and working-class fashion values in the market. If this is true, you can expect the look to exist for years to come as long as the split between rich and poor keeps getting steeper.

First of all, how many people ages 18 to 25 are upper middle class? Even college students are the typical eternally broke bunch.  Continous stories are put out about how OLs prefer to leech off their parents so they may buy brand goods and enjoy high-class items while being on a low salary. And those women are over 25 yrs+ (See parasite singles wiki, parasite singles washington post, usa today parasite singles bottom of the story).

The girl in the Washington Post story is 26 and making 26,000 a year. That’s lower middle class! Simply because gyaru and gyaruo are of a lesser age of course they will be classified as such. Just because they do not dress in Otome fashions is simply bunk to classify their look as cheap. I think Mekas confuses the point of wages = cheap look.

Considering a woman with extensions, nails and a tan could be spending upwards of $600.00 a month on her look, there’s nothing cheap or low-class about that! 109 clothes can be cheap, because they’re appealing to a younger audience, not because they are low-class.

Contested claim 2

Mekas also decides that there is gyaru boom in the countryside.

While the Gyaru look is still considered outside of the mainstream, the subculture has become the standard for a large number of rural and working-class girls across Japan. (Tokyo youth seem less interested, even though Shibuya is the shopping hub.)

I have some serious doubts about this one. Personally since I think the farther you are away from the epicenter of a trend, the less connection you are likely to have to it. Although websites like rankuten and girlswalker do well to sell-out their on-line merchandise, I do wonder how much of it comes from the countryside.

Also, I have just not personally seen evidence of this. Honestly, I have not spent much time in the countryside. But when I have been in smaller towns and in the mountains there is a definite lack of gyaru that I see. This comment makes it seem like I would be seeing the opposite.

Mekas does not back up these two claims with data. Yes there is a resurgence and sales data of clothing + magazines can tell you that. However, the reasoning is not backed up.


Mekas also discusses Tsubasa, and when discussing Tsubasa I have mixed feelings. I think she’s gorgeous and was an adorable model for Popteen during her stay there, but at the same time I question her “graduation” from Popteen as she did it.

When she discovered she was pregnant she decided to “graduate” from Popteen and get married. Of course people spouted pregnancy rumors, but no word was heard from her during her time of pregnancy. She even closed her blog. For me, it seemed like a very Victorian thing to do to seclude oneself during pregnancy. Like it was a shameful thing. Since there is only a tiny stigma about getting knocked up and marrying, I do think Popteen would have kept her. If not, marketing while pregnant could’ve have still worked.

Now she has Rion and POOF is now a galmama. Selling her mama+baby lines for Gilfy and Umeshan’s company Buzz Spunky now has a kids line.

She is a rolemodel so the feeling of “shame” around her pregnancy seemed to only present a bad image. If you contrast it to how Rumi was portrayed in Egg it’s a whole different way. There’s even pics of Rumi in the delivery room, looking not so gal-done.

Having said that, I do still like her and want her products and herself to be popular and cross into the main market.

Mekas while discussing the Shibuya Girls Collection has doubts

They are total unknowns to anyone besides avid Popteen readers. The “star” model of SGC was Tsubasa Masuwaka — a 23 year-old ex-Popteen model and young mother who is big with the kids in Shibuya but has no connection to the mainstream entertainment industry. (She is sometimes featured on TV shows but only in news stories about her marketing power with teens. Despite her popularity, she is not invited to be a cute tarento on quiz shows.)

However in the Gyaru Ressurgence article they discuss her as a new Icon.

Popteen’s main model Tsubasa as the next big opinion leader for youth — the first legitimate heir to Ebihara Yuri. Tsubasa has the Midas Touch in being able to suggest products on her blog and see them sell out days later. Her spokeswoman work for the brand Liz Lisa had put the manufacturer on the map.

Her big test comes this month with the large branding of Dolly Wink.

Dolly Wink is a cosmetics line from Koji, that offers fake eyelashes, eyelash glue, eyeliner and eyelash cases.

Posters like these are everywhere in Shibuya.
The display looks adorable
Fabulous ribbon theme
An eyelash case. Definitely will purchase this. It’s a pain to take care of tons of loose eyelashes around. This was a really clever idea.
All the eyelash lines are up on the Koji site. Love the Sweet Girly style. A possible buy <3
There’s a special movie on the Koji website about her. One of the things I like about Tsubasa is she has a very real voice. Unlike many female celebreties and staff-chans alike, who have faked their voice to be higher and sweeter, she sounds quite natural. Also great hands-on pictures of her working to develop the line.

Someone asked for a getting into GAL guide and here’s my take on one.

Okay I know this is going to have many arguable points, and some may dismiss this post. Feel free to, I hope you enjoy the rest of the Doll if so. My intent is not ruffle feathers, but direct this at those who are new to gal looks and need a push.

My vision of gal follows five simple points

1. Gal is a fashion movement. End of story. Yes there are many activities that are gal related, but it is first and foremost a fashion movement.

2. Gal is constantly evolving. The look you followed last year might look terribly dated on the Tokyo streets. Yes some trends continue on, but a big trend tends to date itself. Mamba are dead, hold a funeral, move onto the now.

3. Gal must be constantly improved. Your look is an kinetic being, meaning you must be constantly changing to strive to find the best look within the fashion.

4. Gal is broad. BROAD! Even if you exclude the two extremes of b-kei gal (hiphop gal) and hime gal (princess gal) you are dealing with a broad spectrum of style preferences.

5. Gal is NOT cosplay. It’s not a costume, it’s a way of fashion life for many women. Women who work extremely hard to get the effect they want. Women who have often made life-changing choices to work in retail instead of college, or be nailist, do hair etc… Unlike the US where it is easy to go back to college, it is just not the case in Japan. These women have chosen a lifetime of possibly minimum wage jobs because they changed their fashion. To play it as a costume is just downright rude.

Second of all, ANYONE can enjoy gal fashion and pull off a gal look.

It is my hobby and obsession to people watch. As a self-confessed shopaholic, I am constantly shopping off of people’s looks this especially stands true to gals. Break down the barriers you have about only Asians can “do gal” or blond is the only gal, or larger sized women can’t do gal. BULLSHIT!

Sorry for the language, but this is just absolutely untrue. I have seen some of the bigger sized girls in Tokyo pull off spectacular looks and in my experience these also do amazing hair. I have seen tiny girls fail like they tumbled out of their closet. I have seen many foreign gals do great looks. And no I am not the be-all-end-all of taste, but neither are you.

Yes the gals in the magazines are tiny, the average BMI of a Japanese model is 16. 2 pips below a healthy weight, which means one big flu and their body organs could give out. Not to mention the heart problems later on in life. Yes many gals have blonde or light hair, but the damage is obscene to your hair and many pull off black better.

How to get into Gal

Step one: buy or find online a ton of current gal magazines

Or find the ways via the glorious internet to read them. It’s best to pick a small selection of magazines you like. These will become your bible. Without proper access to 109 and shops putting website items often later than in stores, these are the most current pieces you have without stepping into a store.

Nuts, Egg, Blenda, Jelly, S Cawaii, Popteen, Ranzuki, Ageha and others all provide their style direction in different looks.

Personally I currently enjoy: Ageha, Nuts and Jelly as my main reads. Since Ageha lends itself to Agejo, Nuts to more of a Celeb-rock look and Jelly to a casual Adult style each can combine to form a look.

Devour the looks in these magazines, judge for yourself what is editorial (aka something made to look cool for the magazine) and something designed for everyday. An example of this would be ex-Popteen model Tsubasa Matsuwaka’s bow from last year.

An example from the Tokyo Girls Collection
Yet thankfully no one took the giant bow look to the streets. Instead smaller bows were used to provide the doll effect.

Seperate types of gal

Yes there are more types of gal, but…

Oneegyaru – Brand – Cecil McBee, Egoist, Duras, Rienda, Lip Service
Rock-kei – Brand – Glad News, Gilfy, TutuHA, Heaven and Earth
Oraora-kei – Brand – Heaven and Earth, Natural Nine, Slangy
Doll or Sweet-kei – Brand  – Honey Bunch, Liz Lisa, Miel Chrisnaut, One*Spo, Rojita
Hime – Brand – Jesus Diamante
B-gyaru – Brand – LB-03, Baby Shoop, Dance by LB-03, Cheer
Agejo – Brand – Mar*s, Lip Service, Golds Infinity
Pop – Brand – Cocolulu, Shake Shake, w♥c, JSG, Galaxxxy

These are the main ones I see day-to-day. If it’s not on the list it’s possibly dying. (yes there are kogals but they are schoolgirls in Japan, I am doubting who is reading this is either.)

Start an “I love this board” or list

Through Polyvore or just a simple cork board at home, cut out your inspirational looks and study from them. Judge what could craft an outfit best. If you’re less the collage type, a list can help although not as visual. Also you can use booknote Post-its to refer back in your magazines of what you like.

This should be your time to narrow your style. Often the more you solidify the kei you enjoy and style direction you choose, you can be more effective inside of that genre.

Be a fashion editor to your closet

Which current items do you see in  your closet that can be used for gal? I am betting you will find some. A chunky winter scarf, some skinny jeans, a loose tee, some leggings. Scrounge together what you feel echos the current trends.


Gals identify each other through aesthetics

This may be a little too sociological, but it’s more do your nails, eyebrows, eyelashes, general make and hair echo a gal mentality.


Magazines put out a nail guide and some are quite intricate, however if you stick to getting acrylic fakes with color and some stones you will find yourself doing it right. Or learn a skill and do them yourself.<


Gals have a set color range. Yes it changes seasonally, but there’s a range of browns, blondes, reds (orenji as they call it) and such that are acceptable. Consider which of these colors looks good on your skintone (ask for beauty advice from pros) and go for it! I do not think moving into gal exists without a hair change.<


While for some its not popular such as Hime or Agejo, judging by the chocolate and caramel legs I am seeing this winter still tanning is very in. As an extremely pale person I’ve noticed that when I tan ungal Japanese often put my in the gal category even when my hair might be simple or such.


Please please go back and read Gal Mori and then we’ll talk. Eyelashes are such a boom lately. It’s hard not to see girls in 109 that do not have extensions (my shopstaff Kie does them) or fake ones (Mai, Yuuna and other shopstaff I know prefer this). MAC is beloved by gals and gals often work there. Head to MAC and get yourself some of their quality foundations and eyeliner.

Please please DO NOT follow the make-up guides step by step in Japanese magazines if you’re not-Asian. Why? Your face has different contour and depth. Japanese gal magazines proclaimed 2007 as the year of looking like a gaijin (I kid you not). 2009 is now apparently by SCawaii the year of the haafu (half-Japanese half-gaijin).  Those of us not Asian, we are already contoured in such ways. Overusing contour make-up can lead to horrid results. Yes white and black and hispanic and arabic and etc… benifit from shading and highlighting, but in different areas.

Get yourself style icons: Pic the model you love from your magazine and study her look. Pic a few and mix to your liking.

Accessorize: I have often seen many western girls fall flat because of their lack of accessories. No I do not mean to get all creepy decora on me. Although a necklace, a belt, a hair accessory can often be the maker to a bold look.

Spend time

Make YOU your BOOM. Gals do not just wake up with eye make put on and clothes perfectly arranged. It is work, WORK!!! Lazy isn’t a word you have in your vocab. I recently was talking to a very sweet DIA shopstaff girl with amazing hair. I asked her how long it took and she said around 5 hours. That was just on her hair. So she possibly woke up at 4:00 in the morning or earlier to start her routine.

Kaji (meaning casual) of any sort is NOT LAZY! It is often tons of time spent to LOOK casual. Do not associate kaji and yuru (loose styles) with laziness. This is simply not the case. Effective kaji is extremely thoughtful and you might find these girls took the same time on their look as high-maintence Agejos.

Also you cannot do gal halfway. Especially as a gaijin, from my experiences we have to try harder to get past perceptions that Japanese people have of foriegners and also show we can enjoy gal fashion just as well.  Even if you are living back in your home country. Go hard or go home, simple as that.

Be humble and improve yourself.

We ALL can improve within how we want to portray ourselves.  We also all started out from 0, so remember yourself at the beginning and then consider others. My mother always said if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. Sometimes this should be the code of gals. My experiences with Japanese gals, this is mostly the case. Instead highlight the positives of yourself and others.

Heading to 109 or any other gal hive such as OPA, ALTA, etc… can be intimidating. Here are some tips to keep you looking fabulous as you shop. This can also be useful for shopping for clothes anywhere in Japan.

109 (aka marukyuu) during last year’s Christmas season

Look your best: Imagine dressing up for a date. There’s an argument that I really agree with that women dress for other women. If you follow this argument then you should be looking 100% when you head into 109.  Do a sound check on yourself, is your outfit, hair, nails, overall grooming at its top level? It absolutely should be at 109.

Best time to shop to actually shop: During the day in the middle of the week. Although this is often the time you see tourists there you can browse without having to shove through and shop staff have more time to spend on you. You might find yourself having good conversations with staff at this time.

Best time to people shop: Friday night and Saturday afternoon are the best time to see gals, although on Saturday you will also see a mix of jks and adults. (JK is Joushi Koukousei aka high school girls, see more trend words here) In the last year with the publication of I <3 MAMA by Ageha’s publisher, the rise in yanmama (young mamas, used to be a term to describe mambas and such who got knocked up, but it’s more acceptable now to use it simply on young mothers) is definitely rising so you might see a few gals with strollers, in heels -_-;;

Best way to approach 109: Take the elevator outside to the 8th floor. You don’t have to fight the elevator inside to head up to the 2nd floor and you can get closer to brand goods.

Do not buy anything until you look at all shops, unless you have strong brand loyalty. There are only so many big trends circulating at once (see fall trends). Therefore repetition will happen between brands. You may see 7 union jack prints and 30 plaid shirts. You have choice. Use it.

However, sometimes brand loyalty trumps that. For example, although I didn’t see all the Union Jack prints, I bought the one from One*Spo immediately because I know their look suits my style always. If you know a brand is more your style, don’t hesistate to purchase that trend there.

Understand who are the tastemakers and who are simply followers. Brands like Egoist, Liz Lisa, One*Spo, Glad News, Gilfy make their own signature look on a trend. They are following their own look. Stores owned by Tokyu such as MitsuMaru Layla Rose and other Mitsu Maru brands, also Rose Fan Fan, Cryx, Shake Shake etc… do not set the style. They’re often feeding off the trends leading brands produce. Often there is a quality and stylisticlly weak look in their work.

Not to say I’ve never shopped at those places and enjoyed the pieces I’ve bought. However, it’s best to look to the scions of trends than to the reproducers.

Know your body’s assets and flaws, use trends to work your assets. For example, I am apple shaped so while I like my legs and I have a large bust, I’d prefer to cover my stomach and upper arms. Lip Service low cut empire styles suit my body and One*Spo’s leg revealing fluffy skirts are perfect for my shape.

This is not the end of it. Learn if you have narrow or broad shoulders. Do you have a short or long neck. Which colors look best on you? Most 109 looks in each store come in several colors so spend time finding the one best suited to your coloring and current look.

You can be of any size and be able to shop at 109. I think this is the biggest myth for people not used to shopping at gal stores in person.  However you have to change your mindset. I am sure many of you are not a size 0, which is fine. I’d rather everyone be at a healthy BMI than be skeletal. So it might be hard to find pants that are your size. Leggings are a big trend so switch to them with stretch instead. The balloon jackets that are 80s and very in right now fit any chest size. Many things are made with elastic so slide in. I am not advising people to muffin top, but you will find you have many options if you are an American size 16 or a size 2. Those closer to the 16 level just need to stay away from more fitted items.

Ask to try things on.
Learn and love this phrase: これを試着してもいいですか Kore wo shichaku shite mo ii desu ka? Can I try this on?
Or the alternative: このジャケットを試着できますか Kono Jacket wo shichaku dekimasu ka? Can I try on this jacket?
Just remember shichaku as the verb to try on. However, in Japan you will find the option of trying on shirts is severely limited and other items such as sweaters that stretch might be a no as well.

Actually trying things on. Take off your shoes when you enter a carpeted area of a dressing room (remember to have cute socks or a good pedicure). You might be handed a face cover, which is a thin veil to stop make-up from getting on their clothes (here’s a pic of a woman demonstrating the right way). It looks foolish but it’s best to follow the rules.

If you’ve decided against buying the item, you can simply defer and say Kore wo mada kangaemasu (コレをまだ考えます) I’m still thinking about it.

If not, enjoy your new hotness!

Get yourself heeled up at Flag-J, R&E or Esperanza. Use my shoe guide from earlier. These stores often make heels more customized to walking in Japan than foreign stores. I always joke that in America women have date heels. The impossibly tall ones that you teeter from the car to dinner and afterwards from the car to a movie and that’s it. However heels in Japan are made for walking, tons and tons of walking. On average I walk 40 minutes a day in heels, and often have to stand for an hour a day during my commute. Trust Japanese shoe stores to be kind to this.

If you’ll be in the area for a while, get to know your shop staff. Shop staff other than hanging up clothes and working the register are paid to be spokesmodels for their items. From nails, hair, and heels they are 100% representing their brand. Which means they notice hair, nails, etc.. If you’re comfortable speaking Japanese, start a conversation. Ask their name, compliment if you see something worth noting.

Although shop staff can intimidating or downright snotty (Gilfy at 109 tends to be snotty while Gilfy at Shinjuku Lumine Est is less so), most will open up to you if you come back. In my experience I love my shopstaff and my girls are so sweet. Developing a relationship with your staff can lead to lots of good things. They’ll hold pieces, bring out unreleased looks, give you freebies, advise your style and help you look your best. If you’ll be in Japan for a while, this is a must.

Head back up to the 8th floor for a bubble milk tea at SBY If you need a break, or your heels are killing you grab a refreshment at SBY. Although gals rarely eat at the 7th floor eating options, kogals love SBY and SBY has grown huge that it’s now a chain and has a deal with Donki to sell it’s hair and tiny goods out of their stores. Their milk tea is delicious and if you decide on a Saturday you can people watch all you want while sitting.