What is Gyaru? Meaning, Substyles + Resources

Hey cutie, and welcome to the wonderful world that is Gyaru! Here is where you can find out about the meaning of Gyaru, it’s brief history, as well as the numerous types (aka substyles) that belong to it. It is my favourite Japanese fashion style and I’ve also included a list of resources for you to find out more about this wonderful style.

gyaru, gyaru meaning, gaijin gyaru, what is gyaru

Gyaru – Meaning + Brief History

The meaning of ‘Gyaru’ is a Japanese transliteration of the word ‘girl’, and is one of the many branches of Japanese fashion. It originated in Shibuya (a district in Tokyo) in the ’90s as a rebellion against the stereotypical beauty standard of having pale skin and dark hair. These Gyaru – or gals – were flashy, outgoing, and were quite frankly shocking to Japanese society. Their tans were very dark and their makeup extremely exaggerated, and although it has developed a lot since then but the main aesthetic of gyaru is still in place; we live for the famous tagline “get wild and be sexy!”

Different Types of Gyaru – Substyles

Agejo

Agejo is a sexy and glamorous Gyaru style, and is/was worn mainly by hostesses (those who work in exclusive clubs to men) and older gals. Ageha magazine was a huge source of inspiration for agejo and their clothes feature a lot of lace, fishnets, and stockings, and a little dash of cuteness, too.

Amekaji

amekaji gyaru, cocolulu, colu
photo credit

A style featuring heavy American aesthetics such as bright colours, slogan tees, and baseball caps. It’s such a cute and colourful style and more ‘comfortable’ than the other styles in terms of attire as they mainly wear jeans and tshirts. One of the main Amekaji brands is CoLu aka CoCoLuLu. My circle sister Amber wears this quite often (which you can see here in one of my previous posts).

Ane Agejo

 This is the more grown up version of agejo, and perfect for those who want to want to tone down but without losing their agejo aesthetic. This can often cross over to onee gyaru because of this, and it is one of my favourite styles!

Gaijin Gyaru

gaijin gyaru

That’s us! This is the term for those who are into Gyaru but aren’t Japanese, and I’ll be using this term a lot throughout this blog. I’ve even named my series ‘Gaijin Gyaru Guide’ which is a collection of resources and blog posts I’ve created to help you on your Gyaru journey.

Ganguro, Manba, Yamanba + Tsuyome

black diamond, gyaru unit, manba
photo credit

Ganguro are the OG gyaru with a deep tan and contrasting white makeup. I decided to group this together with Manba, Yamanba and Tsuyome as they are all developments of Ganguro. The key difference between them all is the application of white around the eyes (Manba wear white makeup above and below the eye, whereas Yamanba only wear it above the eye) and Tsuyome is a lighter tanned version of the previous three, and is much more recent. Notable mentions are Buriteri and Black Diamond Gal Unit. Please note: this is not blackface!

Gyaruo

The male equivalent of Gyaru! These are super stylish guys and can also be separated into the same subcategories of Gyaru e.g. Ganguro gyaruo, Rokku gyaruo, OraOra Gyaruo etc. but Gyaruo is the male term for Gyaru. Sadly there aren’t many Gyaruo left, but my good friend Wes is the perfect example of a Gyaruo and I did an interview with him here on his Gyaruo life.

Hime Gyaru

The princesses of the Gyaru world! This is one of the most over-the-top styles of gal, and often includes wearing multiple wig pieces to create a voluminous hair with lots of curls. Pearls, crowns, lace and bows feature quite often in their accessories as well as the colour pink, but other colours like black are worn, too.  People often confuse this with Lolita but the silhouette is completely different and makeup and hair is more exaggerated. Ayano Tokumaru, Himena Ousaki and La Pafait staff are the perfect examples of Hime Gyaru (and you can also look at Jesus Diamante for Hime Gyaru inspo too).

Himekaji/Roma Gyaru

Think of a princess but on her day off where she wants to go shopping with friends instead of meeting other royalty. It translates as ‘casual’ princess and the most popular himekaji brand is Liz Lisa (although I’d suggest looking at their older collections for inspiration). It has an overall very romantic look and is softer than the other gyaru styles, so is a great starting point for newbie gyaru. This is another one of my favourite styles!

Kogal/Kogyaru

One of the earliest types of Gyaru, and some might argue that it is perhaps the first one. These are basically high-school girls who dress in Gyaru fashion, and often wear very short skirts, lots of accessories, and have blonde/brown hair.

Onee Gyaru

Shizuka Muto, onee gyaru

The older sisters of the gyaru world, and is often the style that gals ‘graduate’ to. So while they still retain the overall aesthetic of gal, their makeup and hair is more toned-down. Sakurina is a great example of being an onee gyaru but with her own recognisable style, and I absolutely adore Shizuka Muto.

OraOra + Ane Gyaru

In the UK, these can be compared to chavs in their attire as they wear a lot of tracksuits but they pull it off so stylishly! It combines a lil’ bit of badass vibes from Yankii culture and they often have deep tans. Both OraOra and Ane Gyaru are very similar but to make it easier, Ane Gyaru is basically the rebellious sister to Onee Gyaru. Soul Sister is a primarily OraOra magazine so look that up for some inspo.

Rokku + Goshikku

The rockstars and goths of the Gyaru community! This is one of the easiest styles to get into when you’re just starting out as they share the same elements (in terms of clothing) as we do in our goth communities. Sakurina was a huge Rokku icon back in the day, as well as Amihamu and Re:No.

Resources

Gaijin Gyaru Guide is my blog series where I create lots of content to help you on your Gyaru journey. I also share a ton of inspiration as well as advice – feel free to give me a shout if you need any help!

The Beginner’s Guide to Gyaru is a whole collection of YouTube tutorials that we Gaijin Gyaru have put together to help you learn more about gyaru. It includes a brief history of gal as well as tons of advice.

Universal Doll, although not active anymore, is a brilliant gyaru blog filled with tons of resources. They essentially pushed me to be a better gyaru blogger, is one of my blogger inspirations and I loved reading their posts back in the day!

EGG is one of the biggest Gyaru magazines out there, and they’ve recently re-launched and now have a website! Most gals on there aren’t as over-the-top as before but they are still big inspirations. They are incredibly active over on their instagram and TikTok.

Neojapanisme have also done a history of gyaru, but in a lot more detail and is perfect for those who want more information about it in a chunkier format.

GalVIP is a magazine created by gaijin gyaru (non-Japanese gyaru) and it’s an oldie but goldie.

Shops

Kawaii Gyaru Shop is great for those who love Liz Lisa, but don’t want to fork out loads of money, and prefer the older collections (as the new Liz Lisa stuff isn’t that gal anymore). They are also located in the USA!

Tokyo Kawaii Life is the official online Liz Lisa store, and you can also buy stuff from their eBay store.

Mercari is great for buying decent second-hand items. I don’t have experience using it myself and you would need a shopping service to purchase from their, but my fellow circle sisters use it all of the time.

Taobao is another site where you would need a shopping service but you can find SO MUCH on there! I bought quite a few MA*RS items from there in the past as well as a DaTuRa dress. However it is very likely these are fake items but when they look so good… Who cares?

Pinky Paradise sells lots of circle lens as well as accessories, and quite a lot of my gal pals buy from there.

Gyaru Sales group on FB is my go-to for when I want to buy secondhand brand from fellow Western gals. 80% of my gyaru wardrobe is secondhand and bought from there & through friends!

And there we have it!

Hopefully that covers the basis of what you need to know about the meaning of Gyaru and some of the different substyles, so now you can start your gyaru journey!

Love,
Lizzie xx