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Humanities Semester Project - Fashion of Japan and Teenage Rebellion

Humanities Semester Project - Fashion of Japan and Teenage Rebellion

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Published by Devin Marshall

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Published by: Devin Marshall on May 20, 2012
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Devin Marshall
Music, Fashion and Youth Rebellion of Japan and the Relevance BetweenThem
The Japanese have created a new word for those who are under the age of thirty: “
”. Itmeans “the new race”. The reason for such a new term might be because of the widening age gap that has been created in Japanese society (
). There is a new kind of individual now. Instead of dutifullyrespecting their parents and following strictly prescribed methods of etiquette, the youth of this countryhave been diverging more and more into different areas, trying to find their own identities. Japan has long been known for its continuing model of the group as a whole. Each citizen works to keep the machinerunning smoothly. Decisions are made for the group, by the group. Individual opinions were not reallyheard of.Perhaps as an outcry against this, teenagers have started behaving differently, beginning with theways they dress. Shibuya and Harajuku are known as meccas for the fashion-conscious person, and places to meet up and take photo shoots. They dress in extravagant ways simply to show off and havetheir pictures taken, and sometimes unique fashions will spread like wildfire to inspire the wardrobe of everyone else. In such a mimetic world, the hottest new thing becomes known to everyone in a matter of days or even hours. Trends come and go, and before you know it you're behind whatever the newest'thing' is and you must run to keep up.When did this start? Well, you could say that it began in the 1950's, seemingly around the sametime as the Elvis craze in the US. The
(“violent runner gang”) subculture came about in thistime. The
(“Lightning Tribes”) were one of the first examples of these groups.Culminating due to the rapidly expanding automobile industry, they would often blast loud rock musicwhile driving around Japan. While some of these people were simply interested in the style, several wereactually real biker gangs. They would perform illegal modifications to their motorcycles and drivedangerously and recklessly on the streets. The leader of the bike gang is called a
, thoughJapanese police officers would call them
. He would lead his bike in the front of the gang, and hewas not allowed to be overtaken by any of the members. The gangs would sometimes break into violentfights, even including swords and Molotov cocktails. One of the most surprising things is that mostmembers were under the age of 20, the legal adult age (
 Japanese biker gangs - get the bosozoku style
).The style usually has a certain way of dress. Usually a jumpsuit is worn, as a nod to manuallaborers. A military jacket with embroidered slogans written in
is also common. They often tie a
around their waist, which is an X-shaped bandage sash. This look is drawn from Japanese WWIIfighter pilots. Leather jackets and baggy pants tucked inside boots is part of the look as well. A bit of thegreaser look was the craze back then, showing that Japan had been influenced fashion-wise by the West atleast back to the fifties. They'd wear long
headbandswith greased hair in up-do's and pompadours, and surgical masks to hide who they really are. Women also actively participated in thestyle, and had a few variants of their own. For them, their hair was long and usually dyed, and they hadvery expressive makeup. Their boots had heels, which I imagine might be difficult to ride a motorcyclein.In the 60's, the Beatles had hit a very high level of popularity in Japan. Local bands adopted thestyle of hit Westerners like the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones (
). This wave wouldeventually contribute to the arrival of J-pop, though pop music did not become big until the 1990's. Twodecades after the large popularity of rock, punk fashion entered the scene. The film Burst City wasreleased in 1982, directed by Sogo Ishii. It featured a cast of punk bands and musicians. In the 80's,numerous punk bands flooded the scene of Japan, including GISM, Gauze and Systematic Death. Therewere also alternative/new-wave/post-punk artists, most notably Buck-Tick. Following this scene were
noise and industrial bands. As one might expect, fashion followed these musical trends and the youth of Japan began to adopt a darker style, with more plaid, black, buckles and chains. However, therecontinued to be more contemporary rock bands like The Pillows and Glay, that have more of a generalrock sound.Many fashions came about in the 1980's. These include gyaru, visual kei, lolita and more. Gyaruwas named after a 1970's brand of jeans called Gals, and they sought to look fashionable and chic. Theyoften wear makeup and flashy jewelry. They weren't particularly interested in working or getting married,which made people think that they were childish. They hold events known as Gal Circles, where theymeet up to talk and dance. “Gal” style is also related to its subcategory, kogyaru style, which is analternative form of dressing like a schoolgirl. The skirts are usually shorter, and they wear long, baggysocks and often dye their hair. One of their favorite activities is taking pictures in digital photo booths(known as
, invented in 1995) and adding on colorful pictures, text and clipart to their photos.They are known for being avid consumers, interested in purchasing products and wearing different colorsand types of school clothes than are prescribed by their own school. Sometimes, kogyaru girls aren't evenenrolled in school at all (
).The final type of subcategory for gyaru that I will mention is ganguro. The term literally translatesto “black face”, most likely a reference to their excessive tanning habits. In an effort to look like asouthern Californian, these girls dye their hair platinum blonde, tan their skin to very dark levels, andwear very light (usually silver) lipstick and eyeshadow. This is also directly in contrast to the traditionalJapanese image of pale skin, dark hair and neutral makeup (
). Also, the term itself is a portmanteau of two words:
, which means “extremely dark”, and
, meaning “grotesque”.I will also take a moment to mention the decora style. It is not quite like gyaru, because it is nottrying to be chic. However, it is all about trying to be cutesy, and there is the overlap in which they usethe photobooths frequently. Decora is all about layering on decorations – accessories of many varieties,including those with themes such as candy and ice cream, and using a lot of color, predominately pink AsJulia Shaw once said, “The Japanese style cult of decora is so sharply childlike and cute it's like bitinginto bubblegum and razor-flavoured ice cream that's been kept on the icy moon of Europa for a month”(
).Also in the late 80's, the style of visual kei began. Bands like Malice Mizer and X Japan started, bringing a whole new aesthetic to the forefront. Female fans would begin to dress like these men, andshow up to all of the concerts. These all-male bands dressed in extravagant ways, that some from the USmight relate to glam rock. However, there is more to it than just flashy hair and clothing styles. Many of the men look androgynous, and range from darker gothic styles to the very feminine. Or in the case of Malice Mizer, both. In the 90's, one member of the band, Mana, became infamous for dressing in a veryfeminine and gothic style. It was almost impossible to tell that he was a man, for he took on a veryelegant persona.One of the most notable entries onto the market was that of the store Baby, the Stars Shine Brightin 1988. Named after an album release by “Everything but the Girl” in 1986, this store was created byAkinori Isobe and his wife, Fumiyo. When they opened in Shibuya, the sole designers were Isobe,Fumiyo and their friend. Initial sales were weak, but they were inspired by a nearby store that was selling'lolita' fashion (
 Baby, The Stars Shine Bright 
). This clothing contained frills and ribbon, very feminineelements. Ever since then, they have been one of the dominant sellers of the lolita market.Lolita is a controversial name. It was an unfortunate choice, because many uninformed people judge the fashion by the name alone, even before they see it. Many people think of the Vladimir Nabokovnovel published in 1955, which has strong elements of pedophilia. Instead, the Japanese thought this to be a cute name for a girl and decided to apply it to their fashion. The style is borrowed heavily fromVictorian elements, meaning well-constructed and elegant dresses accompanied with petticoats and bloomers. The 'goal' of lolita is to look like a Victorian porcelain doll. It mixes wearing feminine andsometimes child-like clothing on adult women. However, it is done in a very tasteful way and is not
immoral in any way. Actually, many wearers of lolita actively speak out against the book of the samename, and they state that their fashion is a way of combating those who dress immodestly and show toomuch skin. They like to think of themselves as 'cute' or 'elegant', not 'sexy' (
). It is because of this label that many lolitas prefer to call their outfits “princess dresses” instead of lolita. The stigma alonecan cause many Westerners to react strongly to the name.Even though lolita is generally known for being very pink and flowery, this isn't to say that theelements of 'cute' and 'dark' do not mix. In an interview with the German magazine Orkus in 2005 (after he left the band), Mana from the visual kei band Malice Mizer states the following:“When I was still in Malice Mizer I wore a costume that I had designed myself. It was dark butsomehow cute. The Japanese media wrote a lot about this costume and they called it Gothic –  but I think they were mistaken. Unlike me, most people believe that the attributes "dark" and"cute" are incompatible. I therefore resolved to announce a completely new concept to theworld.”This statement released by Mana speaks of one of the most important revolutions of this Japanesefashion. Mana coined the term 'EGL', or elegant gothic lolita. He also created 'EGA', elegant gothicaristocrat, which is the male version of the style. This fashion usually includes all black, but is veryclassical in nature. Mana started his own clothing brand, Moi-même-Moitié, in 1999 and featuresclothing from his EGL style. The name of his brand is a portmanteau of the French words "moi-même"(myself) and “moitié" (half), and could translate into something akin to “my own space”. Commonmotifs or themes within gothic lolita are crosses, roses, bat wings and Gothic architecture. Colors of clothing can be black, white, grey and navy blue. Other brands that make similar gothic lolita clothinginclude Atelier-Pierrot, Atelier Boz, Black Peace Now and h.NAOTO Blood.Let us explore the other types of Japan's biggest alternative style at the moment. The other stylesof lolita besides gothic include sweet, classic, punk, shiro, kuro, Ōji, guro, sailor, country, princess, casualand wa-lolita. Sweet lolita is probably the type that is most representative of the style, or at least the mostrecognized. It is influenced by Rococo styles, and Victorian and Edwardian clothing. It is the most child-like of the lolita styles, including many ribbons, lace, and fantastical prints like carousel horses andlollipops. Bonnets and animal-shaped purses are common. Pastel colors are the norm, usually pink, blue,lavender or white. Makeup is usually also done in pastel. Anything that is sweet or cute is included withinthis style. Brands that market to sweet lolitas include the aforementioned Baby, the Stars Shine Bright,Angelic Pretty, and Metamorphose temps de fille.Classic lolita is seen as more 'mature'. It does not have dark themes, but it is also not filled withlollipops and ponies. It is a blend of Rococo, Regency and Victorian styles. “This look can be seen as themore sophisticated, mature Lolita style because of its use of small, intricate patterns, as well more mutedcolors on the fabric and in the overall design” (
 Neo Lolita Style
). While the fashion can also includeclothing with a high empire waist, that is not the norm. Makeup is usually done in natural colors.Accessories and shoes are more intricate, and trade bright colors for intricate design. Famous brands for this style include Juliette et Justine, Innocent World, Victorian Maiden, Triple Fortune, and MaryMagdalene.Punk lolita is one of the fringe styles. Some do not accept it as a true member of lolita fashion. Itcan include things like plaid patterns, safety pins, tattered clothing, short hairstyles. The footwear for thisfashion can include more gothic-looking boots with heels, boots or even Mary Janes. Another popular type of shoe for this style (and sometimes others) is called rocking horse shoes, which were made popular  by Vivienne Westwood. They look like ballet shoes and they tie around the leg, but the bottom (originallymade of wood) is a large, curved platform with a large chunk taken out of the heel. Since they are rather expensive, replicas are made with foam platforms instead of wood. Blouses and skirts are popularlyworn, though punk lolitas also wear jumper skirts and dresses. Some of the most popular punk brands are

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