Sunday, October 2, 2011

A breakdown of Japanese fashion styles.

Wanted to write something other than my usual pic posts and have been thinking of doing something about dressing up. So here goes. An attempt to compile the fashion styles in here. There are many specific styles in japanese fashion which are usually in the form of XXXX系 (XXXX-kei) where 系 (kei) means style. To lump them all into "oh, japanese fashion ah? GYARU GYARU GYARU." is so dumb. There are also various magazines catered to each of the styles. Here are some of them and their target audience.

Am not so well informed about girl's fashion but for the sake of completeness, i shall include them. I do not claim that all these info are mine. Dug from everywhere else and added to what I know. And credit to Hikko Hikko for the main older info. Though I did edit coz there were typos, missing/dead links.

If you like to flip magazines for inspirations or to check out what's the current trend for a particular kei  then this might be useful since it roughly shows which magazines you should look out for if you want a certain look.

First, women's fashion.
(Guys can skip to the bottom portion for men's fashion.)

Kids (キッズ)
For kids under 10. Mostly for mothers who like to dress up their child, or spoiled kids.


11-15 (not kei but you get the meaning)
Junior high students. Mostly casual with cute elements.

High school students. Mostly sweet/cute/casual with some sexy to lure the boys.

People from late teens to mid 20s. Mostly wears indies brands, vintage, not following mainstream.

Urahara, which is short for uraharajuku (back harajuku) refers to the street behind the popular 竹下通り (Takeshita street) at Harajuku. Since the rent is cheaper there, the clothes are cheaper and there are lots of goodies there if you look hard enough. Personally I like to go there rather than the overcrowded Takeshita street. They have guys clothes there too. Lesser people and quiet with nice cafe!

Late teens to 20s. Very simple and casual, with some romantic/sweet/cool elements depends on what's popular that season.

Late teens to 20s. Girls who have the stereotypes of wearing heavy make-up, wear sexy clothes, noisy, etc. Most gyarus are tanned back in the days, but there are lots of "shiro gyarus" (white gyaru) now.

These are gyaru.

These are gyaru too.

Shibuya gyaru in 2007. From wiki.

Harajuku gyaru. Compare the difference with shibuya gyaru above.

And these, my gawd, are also gyaru.
Luckily we hardly see this kind of gyaru nowadays.

Gyaru is the way Japanese say "gal". Personally I don't like gyaru fashion (and i don't like gyaru language!) I think they mostly look kinda dirty (like never shower) and slutty (sorry!). And when people who aren't familiar with Japanese fashion talk about it, this is the first thing that pops up in their mind.

Hime Gyaru-kei
Girly and princess type of gyaru, started during mid 2000s.
Hair colors can range from white to black and are usually very big and teased. They wear expensive clothing from brands such as Liz Lisa and Jesus Diamante. (from wiki)

Sophisticated and mature style with elements of romantic/sweet/sexy style depends on what's popular that season, target towards university students to early 20s OL.

The above five are known as Akamoji zasshi (Red letter magazines), the big boss of fashion magazines in Japan and they received the name because they all use red for their names on the cover. Pinky stopped publication and there's four left now.

Same as the Red letter magazines, except not as popular. Might be more mature/simple/glamorous depend on the magazine itself, but mostly aim towards university students and OLs as well.

I think girls in OL/Onee-kei (Office Lady/Big sister type) fashion are generally very nice! Click on the top four red letter magazine links to have an idea :D

People who are interested are mostly housewives from 20s and up. Likes simple colour, simple style, handmade things, decorating around home, and taking care of children.

Naturual type fashion is also very pleasant to the eye, methinks. According to moss garden, it is a fashion that sprung up in Japan in the 1970s. Has a period, pastoral look— like something from another time. Above all else, this style promotes being natural and feminine. But wait. this doesn't sound like the above description of being housewifey and taking care of children, does it?

Not sure if this venn diagram below is accurate or not, but this is how a natural type fashion relates to some other subcategorised fashion not mentioned here.

Don't you feel like tending to your sheep and rolling in the hay when you see this?

Another example of a natural type fashion.

High fashion/Mode-kei
The really expensive stuff!

30s to 40s

Traditional Japanese (Well, if you like)

There are others fashion types, which became more popular recently (like last year). examples are 山ガール (mountain girl), 森ガール (forest girl), カメラ女子 (camera girl).

Mountain girls are those that like to dress up like you're going for hiking or camping, with all the matching accessories.

A mountain girl having an intimate moment with the woods.

On the other hand, forest girls do not necessarily hang around forests. They are so named because of the concept that the way they dress, they have this vibe around them that seems to imply "they could have been living in the woods", like that "small" girl in Honey and Clover or perhaps Little Red Riding Hood types?

Cant find more magazine links. so pics will do.

They look so right at home in those clothes that they probably could act in Into the Woods as… well, Little Red Riding Hoods.

Camera girls are, as the name implies, girls who bring cameras out whenever they are out. Hung around their necks for easy access to snap at everything they find interesting. Probably not a fashion fashion, but other than fulfilling its function of taking pictures, the camera also becomes an accessory for them, I suppose. As expected, most of their magazines are more on taking photos than dressing up.

And now to men's fashion!
Why are there no little boy's genre compared to the kids and those in their 10s like female's above? So unfair! And the magazine sites are so pathetic, some don't even exist.

Kireime-kei, celeb casual
University student ~ 20s. Focus on being clean, slim, a bit conservative. Guys with this style is popular with the girls, so sometimes this style is introduce as "mote clothes" ("mote mote" means popular).

University student ~ 20s. Feminine, have lots of layers, accessories.

Kireime means clean and tidy. Salon-kei is so called because it was first started by guys working in salons. It is like kireime-kei but with more mixing of expensive brands with 2nd hand clothes with their own fashion sense. And also with free use of accessories, especially the more feminine type of accessories. Salon-kei influences kireime-kei. "Celeb casual" means clothes that celebrities, models, sports figures like or are likely to wear on a normal "non-working" day out. I like reading FINEBOYS and CHOKI CHOKI!

Onii-kei (Gyarus guys)
Late teens ~ 30s, some 40s. Male version of gyarus; tanned, big hair, flashy, leather shoes, usually wear jeans with vintage wash.

お兄 (Onii) means big brother. Although this is the male version of the shibuya gyaru, I would like to think they are host-kei too. Because host clubs guys tend to look like them. They usually have wolf hair (asymmetry, slightly jagged, slightly long) hairstyle, wear tops that have a fairly wide opening around the neck, and wear leather shoes that have pointy toes. The coordinate is based on black and is hard as well as tight, some consider it to be part of adult rock fashion rather than a part of the more immature gal fashion. If you go to the men's building of 109 (known as 109-2), the 5th and 6th floors are full of onii-kei fashion. By the way, the contents of Men's egg and men's egg youth aren't always wholesome and about fashion haha! Prunes will tsk like how they did so for the A&F ad in orchard. Take a look inside and you'll know.

Street fashion, targeted late teens to 20s. Hard and simple, casual with elements that varies depending on what's popular that season.

Hip Hop
Or also known as B-kei/B=boy for breakin'/breakdance-kei.

Which means Akihabara-kei/Akiba-kei. The otaku fashion.
I don't think there is any magazine catered to such fashion. But you get the vibe when you see one who dresses like one. A stereotypical otaku would be in T-shirt. And not just any t-shirt but anime t-shirt. Tucked in. Jeans. Ninja turtle bag (backpack). And thick glasses for the exact look. I'm an otaku too! But I dont dress like one, I hope! So the stereotype is not true at all. But Japanese people do get really surprised when i tell them i like anime and they say YOU DONT LOOK LIKE OTAKU :x

Just to help you visualise.

I like my figurines too.

For people in their 20s, usually wear expensive designer clothing. I can't afford but can only drool at the pics haha.

Kireime onii-kei
A "clean" version of onii (big brother)-kei. Or rather, the big brother of kireime (clean tidy) type. Neat and matured, this style appears in the OL/onee (big sister)-kei magazines like CanCam and JJ so you know this is the counterpart to onee-kei.

Japanese delinquent/gangster style. But one that exudes manliness and is aggressive. Like the group EXILE. Short hair, tanned skin, black shirts, black jackets. Silver accessories. Guys like this are the opposite of "Herbivore guys". "Oraora" because there's this image that such forceful guys likes to say "oraora" all the time :x

High fashion/Mode-kei
A style that takes in the latest designs from name, designer’s brands. Most times associated with clothes that appear in various collections of luxury brands. Distinctively on the refined, elegant and classy side as compared to other styles.

Here are two diagrams I plucked from the web but i edited them to English for easier understanding.

In the first diagram, it is mostly self explanatory, if you can read. The further left you go, the more popular the style it is with normal females. The further right you go, the more normal females will stay away from you. Except for those who are into it. Like gyarus. Style of dressing: The further up you go, the more avant garde it looks. The lower, the more conservative it is. Akiba kei is the lowest :O Magazine names corresponding to the different styles are included and you can see how they overlap with one another.

For those keis that aren't explained above… Here they are. Marui-kei is actually a subset of Kireime-kei and simply put, it means a style put together by buying the brands carried by OIOI (marui). Such brands are usually popular for those who are starting university or those who are "datsu-ota" (脱オタ) (meaning quitting the otaku lifestyle) because they are rather safe choices. Like entry level.

Konsaba-kei means conservative style. Another name for the clean, matured Onii-kei (older brother of kireime-kei okay). Not to be confused with the wild Onii-kei.

Mennon-kei are those who are greatly influenced by men's non-no's fashion sense. It feels like mode casual yet mixes different styles like high fashion-kei, urahara-kei, old clothings-kei, marui-kei. It is weak in Konsaba (onii)-kei and extreme (B-kei) elements. Tip: Wearing a smart looking jacket or blouson to maintain the traditional feel can bring out the mennon-kei look with a touch of street style.

British Traditional-kei just means what it says. But it's not just being conservative. You need a jacket that has volume and loose pleated pants! Remember to have tweed materials and textile patterns like argyle or tartan. A norfolk jacket is the standard item to have. Main brand: Paul Smith.

French Casual-kei is a style influenced by how the Japanese perceive French style to be. Simple and chic. And you need to have something dressy/stylish to be considered "French Casual". Main brands: Agnes b., A.P.C.

Elegance-kei refers to fashion that involves expensive foreign brands that are elegant and classy. Accessories are often coordinated with those from street style. Brands: LV, Prada.

Gyaruo-kei (ギャル男) are the real male counterpart for gyaru-kei for females.

Amekaji-kei means American Casual-kei. Which include the Preppy-kei (prep school for rich kids). Everyone knows what is preppy-kei right. Student fashion which is different from Ivy-kei. Preppy-kei is the style before they go to university. Typical items are polo T-shirts, jeans, blazers etc.

Rock-kei is a style that is basically black, hard and tight. This style is said to be rather picky about the brands it chooses which are most times on the more expensive side. Kind of like a combination of high fashion and street casual with a hint of rock (music) look.

In this second diagram, It is almost the same as the first diagram. Except that it indicates which styles have more (or less) accessories for the look. Whether that style follows the trend at that time or not (trendy vs standard). Magazine names are boxed up.

Only one unexplained kei here. Extreme-kei, hard and simple, also known as street fashion in general. Includes skater-fashion, outdoor-mix and B-kei (hip hop) fashion. Slightly loose and active silhouette. A good portion of men of these fashion favour short sporty hair than the trendy hairstyles.

Okay, i'm done. Hope this has been useful!


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