This something that I was interested in writing about for a while now but I’ve always put it on the back burner. I was debating on writing about this or the Jamaica-Japan relations/culture. But after asking around, everyone preferred to hear about this first.
B-gyaru is a smaller aspect of B-kei culture (B系). It mixes elements of gyaru with B-kei fashion. Many people, even in Japan have discussed the meaning of the ‘B’. While some claim it stands for ‘Black’, it actually means Break or Beats. Though it has become synonymous with Black now. It is mostly based on hip-hop culture in America. Many of members of the subculture look towards hip-hop videos for inspiration. B-kei is synonymous with Japanese hip-hop fashion nowadays. As such it’s not uncommon to see women sporting extension and braids. In fact there’s an official school to learn hair braiding in Japan and back in the day there was a black hair magazine in Japan.
Now B-gyaru is a term used among Western gyaru, however it’s not one I have seen used in the Japanese searches. It was definitely much easier to find information through B-kei and B-Girl. Some popular B-kei magazines are WOOFIN’, WOOFIN’ Girl (now defunct), Ollie, 411, LUIRE (now defunct), DanStreet (for kids). As well as imported magazines from America. One quick search can tell you that the women centric magazines have go under while the men centric magazines are around.
However this doesn’t mean that the style has died out. On the contrary there are many brands for B-girls that we’ll look at below. These magazines include Baby Shoop, LB-03, ANAP (and ANAP Latina, ANAP USA, ANAP Girls), JUICY SOUL, Cheer, 24Karats. As well as many smaller import brands. I think it’s important to note that a lot of the clothes are sold for dancers kind of tying back into ‘B = break/beats”.
With B-girls, the vampy, sexy look is very popular, though that’s not to say that’s the only way to do the style. Many of their icons in the west include Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Ciara, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez. At the height of J-urban music style icons included AI, Namie Amuro, Koda Kumi and to a lesser extent, Crystal Kay. Nowadays some artists that still follow this style are MARIN CREAM’s Minami, Jasmine as well as dancer CHIE and Baby Shoop model, Yumio.
Many B-girls turn to American celebs and models for their inspiration as there really is no go to magazine for them anymore. As I browsed the web pages, I have to say I feel a type of way. Most people’s first hand experience with B-kei is with the Youtube video on ‘Black Lifestyle’. Now I’m not here to defend it because I’m sure there’s some followers of the style who believe being Black is something you can become. However these people are a small part of the subculture and do no represent everyone who feels an affinity for the style.
Many of the brands and magazines feature black and Black-Asian mixed models, there’s no feeling of swagga-jacking to me personally. Many of the lovers of the fashion also make their way to NY and LA for the experience. I guess I’m saying there’s many types of people to make a subculture, the misguided and the ones who know better.
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