Ora Ora & Ane-kei - Japanese chavs?

When I was mainly into mixed Gyaru styles over a number of years, I went with the flow of the trends that cropped up now and again within J...

When I was mainly into mixed Gyaru styles over a number of years, I went with the flow of the trends that cropped up now and again within Japan. I fell in love with the girls that dressed Banba/Manba and didn't give a shit what other "ordinary" Japanese folk thought of them; along came 'Gyaru-kei', followed by the rise of 'Hime-gyaru' and Koakuma Ageha started its production, so I followed suit with my tallest beehive, trying to mimic the models.

As I got into my early 20s, and as some of those styles were going out of fashion in Japan, I loved the versatility of 'Onee-gyaru' and found I could buy a lot more suitable items back in England. Around that time, 'OraOra' and 'Ane-gyaru' started to make an appearance and completely drew me in.

At first, my thoughts were "Are these Japanese Chavs?!" - with their tracksuits and casual, thuggish demeanor and attitude. But when I got my hands on the 2nd issue of Soul Sister, I knew I found a style that could incorporate things I loved about Gyaru, as well as other cultures that I was interested from both at home and Japan (namely tattoos, piercings and Bosozoku). Both 'Ane-gyaru' and 'OraOra' were styles I saw most often when living out in Japan. There is that casual & comfy element to OraOra's tracksuits, that also oozes that hardcore vibe, something that can be easily achieved for when you want to just go to the convenience store to pick up some beer or chuu-hi (lol) or for a lazy meet up with your friends. 'Ane-gyaru' is reminiscent of 'Tsuyome', but without the need for a super-dark tan, and excessively done hair or accessories. You can glam up and look like a bad bitch, which is very appealing - even if your personality is the opposite.

The main draw for me was that it reminded me of what started Gyaru in the first place. A change of scene and to stand out, rebelling against the norm. Over the years, and especially in it's peak at the end of the 2000s, Gyaru became mainstream, as well as piercings. You can go into Claire's Accessories and buy a piercing gun for your FACE (disclaimer: I do not advise this and urge you to never use piercing guns for anything but your earlobes) - these things became so normative, that Japan's youth brought out to light the biker gangs and yankee culture, fringing on larger, even Yakuza territory. The amount of tattoos on show was shocking to the older generations, much how the first 'Ganguro' girls were in the late 80s - early 90s.

What is nice about the style, is that it's mature, it's got attitude and it can be sexy. It strays away from everything "kawaii" in Japan. So it makes it refreshing to see. It's got it's cult following, without being crazily popular (though it did get pretty popular at one point) and that makes it appealing to a lot of people. The accessories and some lifestyles of the men and women that choose to follow the fashion can be quite pricey. I mean, they mostly have decked-out cars and/or motorbikes, and as is popular in Gyaru, a lot of Louis Vuitton or Gucci accessories. They seem to be the main luxury brands that are bought. Some Chanel in there too, but I think that's generally bought by high-end business owners, yakuza or well-earning kyabajo.

It's a shame that the one resource outside of Japan, Sukebans , ceased posting a few years ago. It was awesome to see them keeping the photos and news of 'OraOra' and 'Anegyaru' alive. As they never managed to complete a lot of their guides etc, it's where I want to step in and give anyone who wants it - current info on these two styles.

Stay tuned for more....

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