Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Almost Mori: What is Mori Gyaru?

This post was updated in April 2020 to better reflect the views of the gyaru community on the difference between substyles and microstyles, as well as mori gyaru's popularity within the gyaru community as opposed to the mori community.

Welcome to the third post in the "Almost Mori" series! This time we will be taking a look at Mori Gyaru!

Mori Gyaru is another popular spin-off style of mori kei, but this style is unique because it is not just a spin-off of one fashion style, but rather a combination of two well-known styles: mori kei and gyaru. There are still a few good posts on the internet for extra reference on the style, such as the post by On the Streets of Sydney here, and also one in Portuguese here. There is also an actual blog run by a mori gyaru here that you can visit as well! However, the blog is now inactive, although it still has some decent resources posted.

Mori Gyaru is a somewhat more popular style than the last few styles we have looked at, in that it was actually able to make it to Harajuku streets and in magazines and became an actual microstyle of the gyaru scene. However, it was never quite as popular as mori kei, even at its peak.

What is Gyaru?

To understand "mori gyaru" we first have to understand "gyaru" itself. Gyaru is a style of its own, and as such has a much more interesting and detailed history than I can hope to get into in this post. For more information on gyaru itself, you can find a good resource here from Yabai. For the purposes of this post, I will simply give you a summary.

According to Yabai, "in [the] native Japanese language, the word gyaru actually means “girl”... in short, [gyaru] is a form of cultural grouping used to define girls that fit the specific definition [of] someone who has loud clothing that looks sexy and a matching loud personality. Gyaru girls are usually blonde [and] the gyaru culture was established during the 90’s." 

The common stereotype of a gyaru is generally big, blond or dyed hair, spray tans, short-shorts, and lots of accessories. Long nails, bright colors and patterns, and of course, a materialist worldview, filled with shopping and clubbing, are also popular parts of the style.

Typical gyaru look
However, gyaru is not always such a loud style, although the louder versions have generally been more popular. For instance, "amekaji, romantic gal, bohemian, and rocker [are substyles that] are extremely similar to the styles worn on a daily basis by girls from countries like the United States."

More "everyday" gyaru look
There are also more "cute" versions of the style, such as hime gyaru, that is "girls who are obsessed with dressing like a princess."

Hime gyaru

Mori gyaru was created as yet another of these gyaru subcultures. Just like other gyaru substyles, mori gyaru sought to combine the aesthetics of mori and gyaru into one style.

The Fashion

Mori gyaru and mori kei have quite a few similarities. Firstly, both styles focus on the natural color palette, although gyaru does tend to favor natural colors that evoke a floral theme rather than simply the broad term "nature". Lace is also a common element between the two, and of course layers, especially layered skirts, and florals patterns.

The style does deviate to contain more gyaru elements though. The most glaring difference is, of course, the shorter hemlines. While it is up for debate whether or not mori can or cannot have short hemlines, it is widely accepted that mid to long lengths are most popular in the style. In mori gyaru, it is rare to see hemlines past mid-thigh, and in general, hemlines are very short, echoing the traditional gyaru style. Other things that you might see exclusively in mori gyaru are high heels, more dramatic makeup looks (however they are usually more toned down than traditional gyaru makeup looks), bigger hairstyles that are more obviously styled, long gyaru nails, and more trendy items incorporated into coordinates (like shirts with open backs, or fuzzy uggs when they were in style.)

Mori gyaru did see some variations from this rule, and some mori gyaru coordinates did have a mori traditional mori silhouette, with more layers, flowier cuts that weren't as form-fitting, and longer hemlines occasionally making an appearance.

As previously mentioned, mori gyaru became popular enough at its peak that its aesthetic was seen in various fashion magazines, as well as gyaru magazines. However, its most notable appearance is most likely from the famous gyaru brand Liz Lisa, who released various clothing items inspired by the aesthetic of the style.

The Aesthetic

Mori gyaru is more of a fashion style than an aesthetic, but it does adopt some similarities to the mori kei aesthetic, as well as gyaru. For one, the style is definitely more materialistic, similar to gyaru. It has a bigger focus on brands and trends, and adopts some stereotypical gyaru behaviors like a gyaru's love for their cellphone, and going out with other gyaru friends to shop. But a mori gyaru may also have a soft side for nature and animals, and enjoy the small things in life, like a mori girl.

Where a mori girl wants to explore the forests, a mori gyaru probably feels more comfortable on a park or paved pathway, admiring the forest from a distance. Where a mori girl might forage for her own food and live in a cabin, and mori gyaru is more likely to decorate her city apartment with plants, and visit a trendy, local cafe with a natural theme.

Similar Gyaru Styles

Himekaji Gyaru Fashion

Although mori gyaru was accepted by many in the international mori community to be a viable microstyle, and the title was claimed by a fair amount of people during its hype, there were other similar microstyles at the same time as its creation with the same aesthetic. Notably, versions of himekaji gyaru, and bohemian gyaru, both had similar styles, and brand pieces and photos of the fashions often overlap. Himekaji still remains the most viable natural-esque substyle of gyaru, and is still worn by some in the fashion today. It is important to note that, for some in the gyaru community, mori gyaru is just another name for these styles, and should not be considered a substyle or microstyle. However, for those in the mori community who wore the style, the term was widely accepted and used. 

Additionally, it is important to note that the term mori gyaru was not really used in Japan. Although natural gyaru fashions were indeed popular for a time in Japan, inspired by natural fashion trends including mori, the term was specifically used as international term. It was mentioned briefly in a few magazines, but again, it never caught on and quickly died out. However, this does not discount its acceptance as a substyle. 

A "Sister Style"

Due to its many similarities to mori kei, and the fact that it is a direct spin-off of the style that shares parts of its name, mori gyaru is also considered a sister style to mori kei by those within the mori community. However, unlike hama and yama kei, mori gyaru also developed its own unique community and maintained ties with its gyaru roots as well. Therefore, those who wore (and some who still wear) the style were often a part of multiple groups. 

Today, mori gyaru is a much more obscure style and not well known. And in gyaru circles, where it never really caught on, the style has all but disappeared. However, in the mori community, its legacy still remains, and mori gyaru is still considered a fashion style that falls under the mori umbrella and remembered fondly by many mori folk.

Have you heard of mori gyaru? Would you ever consider wearing the style? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, and I hope you enjoyed this post!

For more information on "Almost Mori" fashion styles, check out the posts below:


  1. I had never heard of this until I read your post. I can not say I like it myself. It is far too artificial fo me. I dress mostly hama kei this summer and that is a style I love very much. I tend to like more simpler styles these days with fewer layers and less lace. (but I have to say I would never have dressed mori gyaru ever). For me the natural feeling is very important, and the whole mori lifestyle is important too. I love being in the forest, gardening, walking by the sea, reading, knitting and making jam or cake, or painting a bird or a flower. It is not about being "sexy girl" for me. And I dress modestly (not in an "extreme way, but nevetheless). It is interesting to learn more and more about all kinds of mori styles. I look forward to next one!/Molly

    1. I'm glad you could enjoy the post, even if you couldn't relate to it :) I've enjoyed seeing your comments on each post, and I hope you continue to enjoy the series!

  2. An astounding post. You always give so much information in such an easy to follow way. I rather love this style and always associate it with Liz Lisa or soft western brands like anthropologie in a weird way. I hope it comes back in style.

    1. Thank you for your kind words my deer! That's definitely what I was aiming for. And I agree, the styles are sort of similar. I've always liked mori gyaru as well, and I was sad to see it go!

  3. Mori gyaru is so cute ♡ It looks so fresh☆ I like the shorter hemlines since its easy to look a bit frumpy in regular mori kei, at least I do. Haha. great post and I will be checking out the rest of your blog!

    1. Glad you enjoy the post my deer! Thank you for sharing :)

  4. THIS IS AMAZING!!! I'M SO GLAD TO FINALLY HAVE AN ACTUAL REFERENCE TO THESE IDEAS IVE BEEN PILING THROUGH??!?!?! I have been sketching non stop trying to figure out how to blend these styles together and theres actual photos- oh my goodness and you always provide good resources and such wonderfully laid out postssss ugh thank you so much for posting this!!! I'm gonna take this and just- go hog wild!!

  5. Hi! First, thank you for writing and researching this article. Unfortunately, most if it is wrong. The images you are citing as "mori-gyaru" are established substyles that were not part of that micro trend. They are sweet gyaru, some of them himekaji and others what is known as "roma" or "romantic" gyaru in the west. Mori gyaru was a very short trend that was only in a few spreads of a magazine and some experimentation. Gyaru was a very trend driven culture, and little micro trends like this were common. Mori gyaru itself never really took off and definitely did not have an established community, either in Japan or in the west. Universal-doll went and later redacted the entire article you cited, although there is no evidence for either since the site is now down. It might be good for you to talk to an established gyaru voice to understand this fashion more.

    1. Hello! Thank you for the information and for bringing this to my attention! Do you have any articles I could read/citations? I had no idea the article was retracted, and as most information on micro styles has been deleted over the years (including gyaru micro styles) I had a hard time researching for this article and had to rely on memory mainly from way back when. I do know mori gyaru did have an international community though, as some of the them were active on the mori girl livejournal and tumblr, and I knew a number of them. However, for the rest, I know very little. If it is indeed incorrect I would like to know more about the actual micro style so I can fix this article/rewrite if needed. I would appreciate any sources you could send my way, and I would also be willing to talk to someone in the gyaru community, but I would also need some sort of source and not just word of mouth. Thanks for any help!

    2. Well, first I would start by googling and understanding Liz Lisa and himekaji. Almost all of the photos you have here are just of that style, not of the “mori gyaru” trend. Since Universal-doll was the main and in many ways the only source reporting on this trend, it’s going to take some time for me to pull up what magazines featured it and where, but I will try to do so in the next few days.

      My biggest issue is the implication that Liz Lisa ever focused on mori inspired gyaru for more than a season. I adore Liz Lisa and have hardly seen anything like it in their collections. If you are interested in learning more about Liz Lisa from an English speaking source, Emiichan’s blog a good one to read. However, there are ample sources on this brand in English as it was and is very popular. Back in the day, they focused on “himekaji” which was meant to be a casual companion for hime gyaru. It’s a sweet, princessy gyaru style. Most of what you linked are collections that just happen to feel a little mori because it was a summer collection or because boho chic was a trend at the time.

      I suppose my other point of contention is stating that there is currently an active “mori gyaru” community. For the last half decade, there has hardly been a gyaru community at all, even for the main styles. If anyone is wearing “mori gyaru” they are few and far between. I don’t doubt some people tried it. Universal-doll redacted the article, if I remember correctly, because so many westerners were using it as a source to claim it was sub style of gyaru when it really wasn’t.

      I was not in the jfashion when mori gyaru happened, but from what I understand the best way to explain it is like when camo was trendy. Not a whole substyle in its own right, but a theme that was popular for a quick second.

    3. I don't think I implied Liz Lisa had multiple seasons of the style, just that they produced pieces that fit at one point. I apologize if it came off as such. And I do know about Liz Lisa fashion and brand (although I certainly don't have a comprehensive knowledge of every line they ever produced.) But what I implied in the article is they have had mori gyaru like pieces in the past that were used and promoted by the company, not that they have current pieces that fit. Certainly, today, Liz Lisa has nothing of the sort. And historically, they also never focused on that style. It was just, as you stated, a short micro trend.

      As for himekaji, I actually do know basics about the style. However, when researching, the photos for himekaji, bohomenian micro styles of gyaru, and mori gyaru all overlapped constantly. So would you say it is accurate to say there is overlap in the micro styles, or do you think there is a hard and fast divide? That was one thing I was unable to find.

      There are a few mori gyaru still left, but I didn't state there is still a community, only that there was at one point. Again, I apologize if that is unclear. Instead I simply meant that there are still a few poeple who wear the style (I only know of 2 though and they don't post pictures online at this point but they claim to still wear the fashion).

      I would certainly appreciate any magazine scans or information you could send my way. Feel free to email me anything you find relevant at forestsandteamail@gmail.com anytime.

      I definitely like your explanation about camo though. I will go back to the beginning of the article and add a disclaimer that it is more of a micro trend then a substyle. I was not aware that the gyaru community drew such a distinct difference between the two. In the mori community, what is and isn't a substyle is very much fluid and not much of a concern.

    4. Sorry, meant to say promoted by the community. Not company!

    5. Hi again! Substyles are very important in gyaru, as it was a large subculture where the substyles defined communities and social groups as well as fashion.

      I think pulling himekaji coordinates that weren’t intended to reflect mori and placing them in this article where you are describing “mori gyaru” is very misleading. Just because there happens to be some overlapping elements doesn’t mean it was the intention or that is what the outfit is meant to be. You will find soft colors, floral prints and lace everywhere in himekaji. That is the foundation of the style and it predates and developed separately from mori-kei.

      The only reason I bring this up is that I see many people in the comments who seem excited by and inspired by these photos. If they are interested in that style, they should look into himekaji and other sweet gyaru substyles.

    6. Thank you for the clarification on substyles. I will edit the article to include that as well. However, I personally don't see anything wrong with calling these photos mori gyaru if there is indeed as much overlap between the three as my initial research found. Although I can see where you are coming from, I know from personal experience that the mori gyaru community back in the day actively used these images to describe their version of the fashion and even in Japan there were those who claimed these as mori gyaru from within the mori community. That much I do know (although, again, all these old posts are sadly deleted now :/).To me, it is similar to claiming that lagenlook outfits are mori kei. They aren't explicitly mori kei, nor were they made with mori kei in mind, but they still often fit the confines of the fashion and can also be claimed as such. However, I will definitely try to make the distinction that these outfits could easily be considered himekaji more clear, and I will also add the information on himekaji to the post to let people know that there is a more active and prevalent version of gyaru that might be of interest to them.

    7. However, I might add that sweet gyaru is very far removed from mori's aesthetic, so I don't think the two are comparable in any way. People looking for a blend of mori and gyaru want something more similar to boho/natural versions of himekaji, and not sweet.

  6. Nice Styling. I am not so into this clothing but it look similar to Lagenlook Clothing for me!!! But I really enjoy the Article as I come to know about these Clothing Also.
    Thanks for Such Informative Article.