The so called ’E girl fashion’ that’s so popular now has it’s popular roots somewhere right? Oftentimes the look consists of baggy pants, chains, 90’s platforms and heavy eyeliner. Well the look is a lot more complex in its history and significance.
‘E Girl’ is style concept that exists and was invented by social media, specifically Tik Tok- it’s more of a fashion choice than say a way of self. By that i mean a lot of it inspired unconventional pop culture such as Anime, comic books, cartoon etc. A lot of the exaggeration is a part of the imitation. Some of it the 90’s inspired Tokyo street style look- often seen in a dystopian Cyber world eg: The 1988 film ‘Akira’ or ‘Ghost in the shell’. It’s more so an aesthetic than a particular genre of style.
In the 1980’s The dankai junior generation in Tokyo was taking over the driving role in street fashion, accelerating the trend towards casual dressing. Aerobics was introduced into Japan, Olivia Newton-John’s Physical is a hit, and sporty fashions inundate the street. So it only made sense that the 90’s cyber girl style was a total rager! Japanese fashion has always wowed the world, with a bold sense of creativity and the new cyber look was dominating both pop culture and the streets.
JAPAN’S HARAJUKU STREET FASHION
One of the most popular and well-recognized Japanese styles of the 90s and beyond is the ‘Harajuku style’, also known as decora. While there are many styles within the Harajuku genre. “Harajuku style” is known to be a mix of many fashion tribes, the general public thinks of decora when they think of Harajuku look. This style is characterized by the wild and abundant use of color, cartoon character inspiration, and a burst of accessories.
Full of “contradictions” and opposites. Whether it’s the Lolita look or Goth Lolita, Japan always has an opposite look to pair with the same. An understanding of the country as a culture based on impermanence, opposites and general clash is one agreed upon in both pop culture and the fashion Industry.
The level of creative expression holds no bounds for japanese ideas. But the idea of pick ‘n’ mixing tropes of Japan’s cultural heritage with the cultural influx of Western ideas wasn’t always second nature. As Aoki explains, it was previously largely avoided. “For Japanese people, it is very difficult to mix traditional Japanese clothing elements with Western dress. It’s very difficult to get it right,” he says.
Similarly The Harajuku style has both a bright side as well as a dark one. The darker style of the Harajuku look somewhat represents a pre E-girl , 90’s vibe. I could be wrong, but several trends start from mixing of cultures, traditions and various styles and that’s why we continue to celebrate fashion as a wonderful artform.
WHAT IS CYBER?
The idea of ‘Cyber’ is a futuristic concept, often times presented in Sci-fi movies and Anime. Cyber is modern, although in the year 2020, it resurfaced as a fashion statement due to girls dressing up as E- girls. In 2009, Cyber Punk style was a big deal all over internet- alternative models were dressing up and cosplaying either film or videogame characters. Cyber goth fashion is the combination of both elements from the industrial aesthetics and a style associated with ‘Gravers’ (Gothic ravers). Following this, in 1999 there was a fusion between the fashion in the UK with that in New York, this later created the ‘freak show’ spin.
Initially, The term ‘Cyber goth’ was coined in 1988 in the UK by Games Workshop however it wasn’t popularized until a decade later. That’s the fascinating thing about switching from one trend to another- one thing inspires another and we’ll never know when somethings tend to go viral. All i can say is it’s never too late to start a trend.
The cyber goth fashion combines within it the styles of rave and rivet-heads. These are coupled up with the inspiration deriving from cyberpunk and other forms of science fiction. This style sometimes features one starkly contrasting bright or neon-reactive theme color; such as red, blue, neon green, chrome, or pink. These are coupled up with basic black attire. We can draw a few similarities between the Cyber goth look and the recent E -girl style.
CULTURAL EXCHANGES AND TIKTOK
E-girls and e-boys, are an unusual category of hip young people whose defining qualities are that they are ‘hot and only online’. This describes lots of people, of course, but while traditional influencers traffic in making their real lives seem as aspirational as possible, e-girls and e-boys’ clout comes from their so called ‘Misfit’ digital personas. E-girl staples include mesh T-shirts, colorful hair clips, Sailor Moon skirts, O-ring collars; on e-boys you’ll see middle-parted hair, chains, and high-waisted pants, both male and female styles transcend gender. There will be little bits of skate culture, hip-hop, anime, cosplay, BDSM, and goth that are all taken as inspiration to invent this new genre of style.
A known concept is Japans’s fascination with ‘Child idols’ and hypersexualization of ‘schoolgirls’. I’m not here to judge, it’s a cultural phenomenon! And a fascinating one. However, now it seems to have transcended over to the Western trends thanks to the app called TIk- Tok.
The pigtails, along with the pink nose, eyes, and cheeks, are indicative of youth. “It’s a little DDLG,” she says, meaning the kink Daddy Dom Little Girl. Like many current fashion trends (harnesses, for instance), there’s an element of BSDM, kink, and fetish wear, too. A hypersexualized child aesthetic, which also borrows from anime
I think the interesting bit about this is how one popular trend can inspire another- jumping all the way back into Japan’s Harajuku style to Uk’s Cyber Goth looks and now returning is a compilation of several pop cultural references and trends put together- ‘The E-Girl’. Sure it sounds all very complex and hard to pin down, but really its just a ‘idea’ that translates into fashion rather than a particular set of clothes. Brands like Dolls Kill, which describes itself as an “online boutique for misfits” contribute to popularizes and encouraging such trends by selling and constantly bombarding the internet with it’s models and images- that’s when young women strive to be an E-girl…they want to look like that!.
Nothing wrong with that, Artists like Ashnikko represent the E-girl/Cyber fashion community and are flaunting it better than anyone else. Hey, maybe it is really the age of Misfits?