Wild and Sexy for Boys
14 August 2007
A look at the new "O-nii-kei" style for darkly-tanned young men.
Japanese women in their late 20s who dress like the models from magazines JJ or AneCan are often called “O-nee-kei” — a term which means “big sister style.” Around 2006, the fashion press in Japan coined a new word “O-nii-kei” — “big brother style” — to describe an associated look in male fashion.

The O-nii-kei style began as a permutation of the gyaru-o subculture. The gyaru-o are male counterparts to the famously dark-skinned and delinquent “gyaru” (gal) who once dominated the Shibuya neighborhood. The uniform for gyaru-o used to include gaudy bleached hair, epicly dark tans, and tribal makeup, but in recent days, many gyaru-o have grown up and abandoned the more extreme parts of their iconic style. Some older "graduates" of the subculture have become "big brothers," adopting a more serious and adult style based on the gyaru-o principles.

This cleaned-up O-nii-kei look is now just accessible enough to attract a much broader consumer base. The overall idea is to be “clean” yet rough and masculine. Rather than demonstrating machismo through the baggy street look of hip-hop, they prefer a through a tight fit that shows off their bodies. Materials and cuts find influence from the biker and rock sub-cultures. In three words, O-nii-kei is “wild and sexy.”


The O-nii-kei men also tend to mix high-end brands with “tough” street-wear and somewhat gaudy accessories. Although there are a growing number of independent domestic brands that cater to this market such as Buffalo Bobs and Vanquish, the O-nii-kei boys admire Dolce & Gabbana, Dior Homme, and DSQUARED2. Most of the worn items, however, come from those cheaper Japanese brands. The 5th floor of shopping center Shibuya 109-2 became a mecca to this sect and contains all the ingredients a fledgling O-nii-kei male needs for his wardrobe. By 2008, the brands proved so successful that Tokyu gave male fashion three floors of what was once a strictly high-school girl shopping destination.
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