Japan’s reputation as the street fashion capitol of the world can be traced directly to two specific Tokyo neighborhoods – Harajuku and Shibuya. Harajuku’s “kawaii” fashion scene has experienced a major boom recently as a result of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s rise. For the last few years, Shibuya’s gyaru-centric street culture has been left in the shadow of Harajuku’s resurgence. But a new force has appeared on the horizon, ready to challenge current trends and return gyaru culture to its rightful place in the sun.
Meet Black Diamond, Japan’s top kuro gyaru unit!
“Kuro (hada) gyaru” literally means “black skin gals”. Ten years ago, their dark tans (several Black Diamond members actually work at tanning salons) may have led to these girls being labeled ganguro. However, kuro gyaru is a thoroughly modern version of the super-tanned gyaru. When it comes to fashion, Black Diamond’s kuro gyaru members share a love for the Japanese brand D.I.A., with most members wearing D.I.A. items daily.
In recent years, Japanese gyaru magazines like Egg have focused more on the less-extreme shiro gyaru (white skin gals). But Japan’s fashion scene changes quickly and there are recent signs that tans gals may be making a comeback. Egg launched “Foxy egg” this summer, a sister publication that covers the new kuro gyaru boom and showcases sexier, less conservative gals. Soul Sister Magazine also covers kuro gyaru, including running several features on members of Black Diamond.
Black Diamond’s over one hundred members come from all over Japan – from as far north as Hokkaido and as far south as Okinawa. While Shibuya remains the center of gyaru culture (Black Diamond members can frequently be seen on the streets around 109), they also hold meetings in other cities throughout Japan. The basic goals of the group are simple – to support each other through shared interests, to make friends, and to promote kuro kyaru fashion and culture both inside of Japan and abroad.
Working toward their goal of growing the kuro gyaru boom in Japan, Black Diamond members often travel from all corners of Japan to Shibuya in order to pose for, and talk to, Japanese magazines and television shows. Several members work at popular gyaru fashion brands and shops where they can interact with other gyaru and promote the culture. Some girls are also fashion models. There are even future plans to bring together a musical group consisting of Black Diamond members.
Reaching out to international fans of gyaru culture, Black Diamond have launched their own English-friendly Facebook page. Several members of the group can speak English, and these gals have posted videos on speaking directly to potential allies abroad. In the last few months, Black Diamond have begun inviting foreign gyaru to join the group. Black Diamond International has signed up over fifty girls in twenty countries thus far.
After watching Black Diamond’s popularity explode in the Japanese press over the last few months, we tracked them down to learn more. We got together with over twenty members of Black Diamond while they were in Shibuya for a meet-up. The girls were kind enough to pose for pictures and video around Shibuya, as well as sitting down with us for a chat about Black Diamond, gyaru culture, fashion, their plans for gal world domination, and much more.
Please check out our exclusive Black Diamond interview (fully subtitled in English, of course), as well the fun pictures of these amazing girls.
Interview With Black Diamond Gyaru Unit – Video
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Black Diamond Around Shibuya – Pictures
The Kuro Gals of Black Diamond – Street Snaps
We’ll be posting more pictures of each girl’s outfit, hair, and nails soon. Check our Shibuya street snaps!
Click on any of the Black Diamond gyaru pictures to enlarge them.
We would like to say a big “Thank you!” to all of the members of Black Diamond who took the time to speak with us and pose for our photographs. We had a fun day with them in Shibuya and we hope that we’ll be seeing even more kuro gyaru around in the near future!
For more information on Black Diamond, please check these links:
Photos by Kira.
About the photographer:
Born in Japan, educated in Japan and the US, Kira shoots exclusively with Canon DSLRs. Photography assignments include fashion, bands, sporting events, and portraiture for various companies and bands throughout Japan & the world. His portfolio can be viewed at Artist-Photo.
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