Under-30 Women's Magazine Breakdown

Gyaru, Glam, Oneekei, Girly, and Street
01 January 2008
A guide to the main market segmentation for young Japanese women's fashion magazines
magazines, Men's, Ladies
With so many Japanese fashion magazines in the market, it is nearly impossible for outsiders to fully comprehend the media space. Since magazines tend to create the boundaries between subcultures and consumer segments in Japan, having a grasp on the differences between magazine titles can be a powerful tool for understanding the total fashion market. In this piece, we have organized 27 different Japanese fashion magazines for women under 30 into five large categories — Gyaru, Glam, Oneekei, Girly, and Street — and then describe the subtle differences between the magazines.

Click here for a graphical overview of the magazines in their respective genre divisions.
Note on Circulation Figures: The more objective and accurate circulation figures are those provided by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC). Those few magazines with ABC-certified numbers are indicated by "(ABC)." Magazines with "(JMPA)" after the circulation number indicates a less accurate "printer-certified" figure. Those starting with "~" are uncertified publisher-provided statistics and not particularly credible.

Figures updated on December 1, 2008.

Age Range: Teens to late 20s
Race of Models: Japanese
Authority Figures: Non-professional models of similar age and style (dokusha models)

The gyaru — a Japanese pronunciation of the word "gal" — may have lost popularity since their peak around 1998 but the subculture still constitutes a very strong fashion grouping for young women under 20. More importantly, the evolution of the original gyaru's personal look has determined the development of the women's market as a whole.  Around the mid-1990s, the "kogyaru" made a big splash with their deeply browned skin and white makeup. But ever since the subculture split into the more acceptable "white gyaru" and semi-delinquent "black gyaru" around 2000, the main characteristic drawing the group together seems to lie in the attitude rather than specific fashion elements. The girls still have dyed brown hair, indulge in excessive nail art, and hang around Shibuya, but their "bad girl" sexiness is oddly more about female solidarity than attracting men.

Due to the relatively delinquent image, gyaru magazines are generally published outside of the mainstream. Popteen speaks to the tamer "white gyaru" in high school, while Egg delves deeper inside the more anti-social and deviant elements of the "black gyaru." Cawaii! and its older sister title S Cawaii! take the gyaru look into the 20s and add more adult elements. Recent addition Blenda seems to have attained the most widespread appeal by fusing gyaru fashion with a general interest in Hollywood starlet gossip. (There are many other core gyaru titles like Ranzuki, Koakuma Ageha, Happie Nuts, and Celebich, but they do not have the readership to warrant attention here.)

Once gyaru leave high school, they generally move into two directions. A small number get deeper into the gyaru subculture with Egg and S Cawaii, but most "graduate" into either the sexy-rock ViVi or conservative O-nee-kei CanCam. One half of Cawaii! and SCawaii! readers, for example, also read CanCam.

   Average Age: 19
   Age Range: 15-25
   Circulation: 300,717 (ABC)

    Average Age: 19
    Age Range: 15-30
    Circulation: ~300,000

    Average Age: 24
    Age Range: 20-30
    Circulation: 108,400 (JMPA)

    Average Age: 26
    Age Range: 20-30
    Circulation: 180,219 (ABC)

S Cawaii!
Average Age: 27
Age Range: 25-30
Circulation: 144,118 (ABC)

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