US fashion is known for its impact worldwide within the fashion industry and recently it has even been known to reach small stores in Tokyo, Japan. Desiré van den Berg is the photographer responsible for introducing the world to Hina, a fashion store owner whose motto is ‘Black for life’. She has opened eyes to the phenomenon that is B-Style, a mishmash of black lifestyle, and is an icon for afro American appreciation within Japan.
What many don’t know, is that B-Style is not the first fashion style to spring up from a love of tan skin, curly perms and bold makeup. Girls in Tokyo were showing their appreciation for the self-styled afro American approach to fashion way back in the mid 1990s. This alternative fashion style was dubbed Ganguro and saw girls tanning themselves and adopting a make-up style similar to that of the African American beauty gurus such as Jackie Aina and Missy Lynn who trend YouTube today.
Gyaru fashion as it was (and still is in some parts) known, comprises of Japanese girls who have tanned themselves bronze, wear bold make-up in pinks and reds, don long extensions and have perfected nail art with glitter and diamonds. If we walk into the majority of hair and nail salons throughout the US, you will see that every beauty therapist is a master in all of these fields.
The Ganguro girls were an extreme subculture and Japan has always been a place where bizarre fashion trends are either accepted or simply overlooked, however, outside of Japan these girls who idolised and characterised the trend were not openly exploited nor distinguished as the fashionable B-Style trend has been. Perhaps it is the literal translation of the word Ganguro into ‘black face’ which caused it to fade out. After all, there is a thin line between appreciation and racism within the fashion industry as South Sudanese supermodel Alec Wek has voiced since her work for Lavazza coffee.
Whatever it was though that phased out the Ganguro girl, it’s been toned down and brought back under another guise. The only question now is: How long will B-Style be stylin’?