by Margaret Chu

We’ve all seen the height of Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers era, but that has all fizzled away into yesterday’s news.  So what else does Japan have to offer?

The fashion style known as “gyaru,” meaning “gal,” emerged in the 90s, but it hasn’t really gone away.  Gyaru girls are fashion-conscious and are always up-to-date on their appearance, including hairstyle, clothing, accessories, nails, and makeup.  They always dress and redress to impress.

Only recently has this style made its way outside Asia as the “gaijin gyaru,” which basically translates into “foreigner gal.”  Here’s your quick guide to the gaijin gyaru.

Getting Started: Gyaru girls have a few features in common.  To adopt the gyaru look, you’ll need:

1)    Porcelain skin, meaning a smooth, even complexion.  Use makeup if you must (most gyaru girls do, anyway).

2)    Eye makeup: A major feature of a gyaru girl is her large, doll-like eyes.  You want to emphasise your eyes.  Girls on a budget, you can start off with eyeliner and a pair of false eyelashes.


3)    Dolly circle lenses enlarge your irides, and, as a result, make your eyes look bigger.

4)    Nice nails:  If they’re painted, they shouldn’t be chipped.  If they’re plain, keep them clean.

5)    Bling: On your cell phone, in your hair, on your nails, bling is your friend.

6)    A closet of anything that looks good on you.  Vintage can be “in.”  If you look good, you’ll feel good.  Gyaru girls do spend a lot of time on their appearance, but ultimately, they’re confident.

7)    Inspiration: Take a look at fashion magazines and come up with a personal style. is a site run by a gaijin gyaru from Poland.  You can find loads of gyaru magazine scans.  Find your own style with some help.

8)    A soft spot for cuteness.  Some gyaru girls keep cute plush toys, cute dresses, cute cell phone straps, everything cute!

Gyaru Celebs:

Ayumi Hamasaki and Rina Sakurai (a.k.a. Sakurina), widely known in Japan, are fashion icons and have the gyaru look, no doubt about it.  Lady Gaga, on the other hand, isn’t always the perfect model for gaijin gyaru.


Hot Shopping Spots in the Toronto (Canada):  Gyaru girls are material girls.  Even if you’re on a budget, there will always be cheap finds in these recommended places.

-       Pacific Mall, “North America’s largest indoor Asian mall” in Markham, infamous for their sales in pirated DVDs.  They’re open even on holidays.

-       Sophie’s at Time Square in Richmond Hill by Leslie and Highway 7.

-       J-Town in downtown Toronto.  See for directions.

Sites worth checking out:

- magazine scans and other photos

- An archive of gyaru circles from around the globe, online shopping sources, and more