I’ve been saying I’m going to do this Hime Gyaru FAQ for such a long time now but I just kept putting it off and avoiding it. I find writing things like this very difficult because there is so much about fashion, especially those whose roots are in a different culture, that is subjective. Writing essays on the subject is not something I want to do, I would be much more at home making some hair bows!
Also please note that these are just the conclusions that I have come to from my own research and opinions. I am not the be-all end-all authority on the subject of Hime Gyaru. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, I am just writing in response to the huge number of questions I receive on the subject so I don’t keep having to repeating myself.
About The Hime Gyaru Style:
What is Hime Gyaru?
-Hime Gyaru is a street fashion which originated in Japan. The literal translation of Hime Gyaru (姫ギャル) is Princess Girl. It is a fashion subculture which centers around dressing and (depending how seriously you take it) living life like a princess.
When did it start?
-While it’s aesthetic roots could probably be traced back to Japan’s 1970’s “cute” movement, today’s incarnation was popularized by the store Jesus Diamante in the early 2000’s.
So do you actually believe you’re some kind of real Princess?
-No. It’s not uncommon for a girl who enjoys the style to attach the “hime” suffix to the end of her name in Japanese rather than the traditional chan/san indicating she is a princess eg. Keiko Hime/けいこひめ = Princess Keiko. For the most part this seems to be a bit of fun, I highly doubt there are many girls out there who believe they are the long lost great granddaughter of some tiny European monarchy. It’s more in the same way that girls/women will use the chan suffix to appear cuter.
Are hostess wear and Hime Gyaru the same? Are all Hime Gyaru hostess? Ageha is a hostess magazine with Hime style clothes right so it must be the same thing?
-No they are not the same thing. There is some style cross over in the hair and make up areas and some hostesses do dress in hime styles but they are not the same thing. Many hostesses do not enjoy Hime styles and many Hime Gyaru (myself included) are not hostesses. Ageha caters to both markets with hair and make up tutorials, it also features both Hime and hostess clothing though the emphasis lately has been more on hostess style.
What are the influences on Hime Gyaru?
-Very generally speaking: Rococo France and European royalty. More modern royalty is also an influence to a smaller extent. The more jewel encrusted, the better ;)
Why do people like this?
-Because it’s pretty? Everyone has their own personal reasons, personally I just enjoy the look.
Do you dress this way to attract men?
-NO. Just NO. Yes there are *some* girls that dress this way to attract men BUT that is personal choice not something to do with the fashion.
How much does it cost to be hime gyaru?
-It costs as much or as little as you want it it. Yes that’s a very round about answer because it’s a very round about subject. If you want to buy only JD clothes, get extensions, cut and dye your hair and get your nails done at a salon every single month then it can be a very expensive hobby. However if you take the time to learn some skills like how to do acrylic nails, dye your hair at home or sew it can take the costs right down. It really is about how creative you want to get… instead of paying $700 for a Jesus Diamante dress I can make one for $10 out of a scarf and some pillow cases, no it’s not exactly the same thing but you get the idea.
Is Hime Gyaru the same as Lolita?
-No, they are completely different. While some of the aesthetics are the same (cute things, frills, lace etc) the idea is entirely different. Hime style is more grown up while Lolita is more childish. Lolita strives to be a cute little doll while Hime has a more mature element. Lolitas will wear petticoats at all times to give their skirts a bell shape while Hime Gals prefer more subtle shape. Lolita generally will have covered shoulders with a blouse and covered legs with stockings/socks while Hime Gyaru may not…. and the list goes on.
Is Hime Gyaru like Lolita’s older sister?
There has been a lot of debate on this subject but in my opinion… not really. While a lot of Lolitas tend to “graduate” into Hime Gyaru, the styles have completely different ideals and are not really linked. Sweet Lolitas have a tendency to move into Hime style because it has familiar themes and is comfortable. It can also be a lot less restrictive than Lolita can be and can be easier to incorporate into everyday life. That’s not to say that all Lolita’s feel this way, it’s just what I have heard from those who have made the change. I myself made the graduation between the two and I think Hime is more like Lolita’s slightly older cousin who has an expense account and a company car ;)
Are Hime and Onee Gyaru the same thing?
-No. Hime is Princess style while Onee is more for girls who have graduated from an extreme style to a more family friendly style. Onee tend to be more laid back and love high end brands. Onee can be mistaken for a more casual version of Hime style sometimes but it’s not the same thing.
What are the main identifying parts of a Hime Gyaru outfit?
Please note that all of these elements are not required to make a Hime outfit, they are the most common element.
What are the philosophies behind the style?
-I think the main point is really enjoying beautiful things ^_^
How do you get your hair like that?
Where are good places to shop for Hime clothes in Japan and in the West?
West- The most obvious is Yesstyle. Bodyline also has usable things. My best advice for shopping though is to look locally. I’ve found usable dresses in Target and all kinds of random places. Don’t overlook junk stores and thrift stores, I’ve found some of my favorite things there and they’re super cheap! To be perfectly honest I don’t shop in just one place. I look everywhere I go for things which are usable and even living in silly Brisbane I managed to find a whole wardrobe.
Does the fashion have a lifestyle aesthetic involved or is it simply appreciation of beauty?
-This is a bit of a tough question as it differs for every person. I know there are girls out there that take the fashion very seriously and live their lives as if they were a Rococo Princess, others just dress this way on weekends because it’s fun.
I would say for me personally there is an element of lifestyle but not because a fashion is telling me to do it. I like tea parties, making beautiful things, baking and the kinds of things you would expect someone who dresses like me to… but I like things that are in complete opposition to my fashion as well. The thing is… that I liked all of those cute frilly things before I was interested in Hime Gyaru or even Lolita fashion. Maybe it’s more accurate that my fashion is an extension of my life style and not the other way round :)
What is the subculture like in Japan compared to the West – does it have a large following or is it relatively obscure?
-So far as I’m aware the subculture in Japan is of a decent size. Not as big as regular Gyaru or Lolita but they aren’t uncommon. According to the Wall Street Journal Jesus Diamante turned over US$13.4 million in the year ended March 2008, so clearly someone is buying them! While in Japan in 2007 I remember one occasion of visiting Angelic Pretty in Harajuku and being very surprised that it was packed with Hime Gyaru rather Lolita! The Western world is different though. From what I’ve seen it’s quite rare to find more than a couple of girls in the same place. Of course there are exceptions but Hime is a “go big or go home” kind of thing which can be hard to keep up with no friends to talk to about it unless you *really* love what you’re wearing.
Do Hime in other countries do the fashion differently to girls in Japan?
-Yes. One obvious difference here is the make up, Japanese techniques need to be adjusted to achieve the same effect on a different shaped eye. Availability is another factor which changes the way Western girls wear the fashion. In Japan you can walk into a shop and walk out with a complete outfit. In most other countries you have to search quite hard to put together a decent coordinate out of local items. I think that this probably makes girls more resourceful and (arguably) more committed to the fashion because they have to work a lot harder for the end result. In the parts of Asia I’ve visited, staple Hime items are readily available for decent prices while in other areas of the world they aren’t. Diamantes are a great example of this, in many places in Asia you can just walk to the shops are buy a pack of 1000 or so diamantes for a reasonable price. Here in Australia our craft stores generally sell them in packs of 10-50 for $5 upwards. So if I want to complete a deco project in a cost effective way I have to order from overseas. The internet has helped greatly with shopping and making friends with similar interests so I think as more companies start shipping internationally we’ll be closer than ever :)
Is the style dying?
-It’s true there has been a lot less activity in the last few years. According to Mitsu the Jesus Diamante Mixi forums are dead, I’ve seen less Hime in street snaps, Ageha is moving towards more generic host looks and there seems to be less talk about the fashion in general. Personally I’m putting this down to a mass graduation of the 1st gen of girls. A lot of girls who began in the fashion in 2000-2005 are now getting a bit older and graduating to more mature fashions. Even Keiko Mizoe who is Jesus Diamante’s biggest selling/most popular shop girl has retired to settle down into family life. So with that era of girls retiring their frilly hair pieces, the next few years will tell if Hime Gyaru is going to be an enduring style or end up with styles like Manba as a footnote of fashion history. Personally even if no one else dresses this way I won’t mind, I dress to please myself, not because it’s in fashion!
About Me In The Fashion:
Are you a spoiled princess?
-No. I work very hard for the things that I own.
Do you wear Hime style 24/7?
-I don’t wear full on Hime style all the time, that’s just not practical. Who wants to sleep with a head full of bobby pins? I dress how I feel on a particular day. When I am not wearing complete Hime you will usually find me in something like this. For days when I’m just staying home and working I like to be comfortable. I wear cute lounge wear with frills and lace but that’s a whole other post. I try to incorporate as much Hime style as possible into what I’m wearing at all times.
Do you spend all of your money on clothing to the detriment of being able to feed yourself? Do all Hime Gyaru do this?
-No and no. This whole issue/stereotype has been brought on by one silly article that was written about a woman who spent all her money on clothes and had no food to feed her children. That is not an accurate representation of an entire style. There are idiots in any group of people and clearly not everyone is good at managing their money. I eat very well *thankyouverymuch*, as does James.
How do you afford all of these extravagant things?
-A lady doesn’t tell and a gentleman doesn’t ask. No the truth of the matter is that I work damn hard for what I have and if I see something I want that I can’t afford it I make it.
Do you have to wear a petticoat?
-No, not all the time. A bell shaped skirt is not required in Hime style. It does depend on the dress though some things just look better with a petti ^_^
So you only wear pink?
-No. Hime style can include many colours. Pastels are common but dark colours like red and black aren’t uncommon. Pretty much the only colours that are completely off limits are fluros.
Where do you get your clothes?
-I buy at local shops, thrift stores, online and make things.
OMFGSDSD!!! I WISH I COULD DRESS LIKE YOU BUT *insert excuse here*
-Well you should stop wishing and do it ^_^
Other good resources:
Universal Doll- Fantastic resource for Gal information in general. Full of really well written articles!
Ricoche.net- Forum all about Gyaru, all styles including some Hime.
Hime Livejournal Community- Community for Hime girls, but not updated often.
And after all of that writing I’m pretty damn tired and I’ve earned my cup of tea! Happy to answer any Hime Gyaru related questions to the best of my ability :)