It’s finally here! After hours of research, 20+ different browser tabs open, and racking my brain for exactly how I did it when I was more involved in the Gyaru community, I finally have this mini-guide on Old School Gyaru 100% ready! If you love older brands such as ALBA ROSA, COCOLULU, and other defunct brands and don’t have a clear idea on how to apply this style to yourself or how to get the brands, then this guide is for you. Let’s get started:
The very beginning of the Gyaru era was primarily started thanks to the Shopping Bag (ショッパー) era; It was super popular to carry these bags in school and whenever a gal was out and about. During this time, the resort and California concepts were wildly popular! These concepts were even more established through brands like ALBA ROSA, Me Jane, ROCO NAILS. Hibiscus flowers, palm trees, and tropical leaves were the main print for any of these brands and were immediately embraced by what would become the first Gyaru boom. Because of these concepts, tans and lighter hair suddenly became really popular. Gals that embraced this style, suddenly began emulating and adapting a Barbie-esque, California girl type of makeup until it became what we see in the first issues of EGG Magazine.
It’s no surprise that ALBA ROSA was the Gyaru brand to start, but it was almost impossible to buy the brand unless you were already working outside of school or bought knock-offs. The t-shirts were the simplest to obtain and the most popular before the hibi-patterned coats. These alongside the ALBA jewelry with the hibiscus flower were incredibly popular. To the girls that couldn’t obtain ALBA ROSA as easily, other brands became a staple since they still had a similar concept and were much more affordable than the former. These brands were: Majorena, SHAKE SHAKE, ROSE FAN FAN, LOVE BOAT, Jassie, KAPALUA, Ji-Max, VANCE, SWORDFISH, and COCOBONGO.
Successor Brands & Styles
Once Gyaru became more established via magazines like EGG, Popteen, Ranzuki, EGO System, etc., a few more brands came aboard for the “109 Gal Boom”. ALBA ROSA also created what older generations are calling a Phantom Brand for men called MY TANE. By then, men were either Yankii or Sentaa Gai! By doing this, brands like RODEO CROWNS and COCOLULU quickly gained traction. Through CO&LU, the Amekaji style became more popular and later produced more Amekaji style brands like Blue Moon Blue, MarpleQ, etc. But I digress…
It’s 2019 but I want to Dress and be Oldschool Gal
Finding defunct brands, while not impossible, is a bit of a task! Not to mention that economy-wise, it makes all the more sense to sell defunct brand items for more than they’re worth. HOWEVER, that’s almost not the case in Japan. Second-hand webshops and auction sites have become what I consider to be a treasure trove of Gyaru brand items that with the right tools, can easily be obtained by anyone overseas. The great thing about it is that most items will either be in almost immaculate condition or they’ll be new with tags and most likely unused.
Brand helps A LOT, but it means nothing if you can’t pull off the look. For this, magazines are a great start! EGG is great inspiration, as are the older publications for Ranzuki and Popteen. At some point, in fact, Ranzuki was considered the Gyaru magazine (go figure!). Another great source and often overlooked is EGO SYSTEM (エゴシス). For “real world” examples, Gal-sa like ANGELEEK for women and LOGOS for men is a great go-to in order to get inspired. These two circles were practically regarded as royalty and were also the beginning Gal-sa that would give way to others like EMPEROR, VIVID, and more. Another more overlooked source for inspiration is Para Para Mate (パラパラメイト) magazine (the only copy I’ve been able to find is on Mercari with an EGO SYSTEM magazine though…) It might be possible to get one of the mooks off of Amazon Japan…maybe.
- You can buy EGO SYSTEM on Mercari while items are still available.
- EGG is more of a popular term, so if you search for EGG GAL on Mercari, you’ll find a lot of the older editions still available!
- BONUS: A lot of older brand items relating to EGG magazine are available through this search!
- GUYS!!! Men’s EGG Youth and Men’s EGG should be your must need items if you’re looking for old school inspiration as well. You can also find these on Mercari.
- If you’re looking for specifics, there was a short-lived release of Men’s EGG Hairs strictly for hairstyle inspiration.
My tried and true have been MBok, Shibuya109 E-Shops, and Mercari. As long as you know the romaji and katakana for the brand you’re looking for, you’re all set! You can refer back to my Gyaru brand glossary on getting the katakana from these brands so you can do your search. To recap, here are the katakana for the aforementioned old school brands:
- me jane(ミージェーン)
- ROCO NAILS(ロコネイル)
- SHAKE SHAKE(シェイクシェイク)
- ROSE FAN FAN(ローズファンファン)
- LOVE BOAT(ラブボート)
- SWORD FISH(ソードフィッシュ)
Finding a Reliable Shipping Service
The next step is the shipping service! Secondhand shops from Japan, web shops, and auction sites rarely ever let you place an order from abroad, so a shipping service is a must. White Rabbit Express (untested) has an easy to use guide on how to buy from Mercari through them. They also have nice little guides on how to buy from Amazon Japan, Rakuma (formerly Fril), and Yahoo!Auctions Japan. Yahoo!Auctions Japan also has a partnership with Buyee (untested) and they’ve also added support for Mercari as well. Though not relevant to this post specifically, Shibuya109 has a partnership with Buy Smart (untested). I’ve only tested two shipping services before, but have always held a preference towards Tenso (the other was Japonica Market).
All of the following shop links have ALBA ROSA in the search, which means you’re likely to find more gyaru brand on these than on other websites:
When I was starting out, my favorite resource was Universal Doll. Check out her posts for more information on shipping services and more!
- HOW TO BUY GYARU BRAND CLOTHES ON-LINE FROM JAPAN
- MBOK & Y! JAPAN GAL AUCTIONS & YUMETENBOU GAL ITEMS
I hope this guide helps you if you’re interested in (re)living those old school gyaru days!