Japan’s gyaru aesthetic has definitely evolved through the years. But did you know that one of the reasons why it’s well-known as a fashion subculture is because of its subset, Kogal? Kogal fashion is a type of gyaru style that revolves around a more youthful, student-like aesthetic. It’s often depicted in anime or J-dramas, which somehow made it the ‘face’ of the gyaru look for non-locals who are into J-culture. But what exactly is Kogal fashion?
Childlike but edgy
Kogal is the combination of ‘koto gakko’ meaning high school and ‘gal’ which is the English word where gyaru was derived from. Sometimes, the 'ko' in Kogal is also said to come from 小, which means 'small' or 'young'. Its main idea is to spur individuality by customising your school uniform against the standard or ‘proper’ way of wearing it. It all circles back to anime or J-drama characters who you immediately know are part of the main crew because their hair or their unusual uniform that stand out from the rest of the supporting characters.
Key elements to Kogal fashion
Unlike America's hit TV show Gossip Girl, however, where it’s all about headbands or designer pieces that make up your school girl look, Kogal fashion is not a complete alteration of one’s traditional uniform. Rather, it has very distinct elements that make a look ‘Kogal’.
First, it incorporates the basics of the gyaru look: coloured hair (though a lot more ‘natural’-looking than the actual ‘gyaru’ aesthetic), bedazzled nails, and elements of decora fashion but only on accessories like smartphones or keychains on their bags. Tanned skin isn’t ‘required’, unlike when gyaru boomed as a trend in Japan in the ‘80s to ‘90s.