This January 18th - 19th I attended the North American Gyaru Summit hosted by the Black Out gyarusa in Chicago. Gyaru summits are held all over the world but I’ve never been to one so when I heard there was to be a summit right here in Chicago I had to go! Even though my jfashion focus is on decora and fairy kei I’ve had a long time goal of getting into gyaru fashion. There’s a lot of culture intertwined with this style that I felt I could get immersed in during this event. I had so much fun and I took from it a few a ideas of how we could create more community in other jfashion events.
The first night was a dinner at a local Izakaya where I got to see who all would be attending besides the host gyarusa. There were members from the 109 degrees gyarusa (Kai, Kuma, and Nicole) from the east coast, Danielle from the Queen E gyarusa in London, and many unaffiliated gal like me. A waiter asked if we were going to an event in which I then answered that we were the event haha. There was much discussion about recent brand hauls, makeup tips, and old gyaru gossip. Something I find interesting is how revered previous EGG models are. They are known by name, personality, and years they were popular. For decora and fairy kei we don’t have a magazine that was like EGG. We had FRUITS but that wasn’t same type of magazine that EGG was/is. Our fashion idol obsessions in the western decora community are more recent/western and less clearly documented??? We have like Haruka, 6% Doki Doki staff, and Junnyan, that’s who we always talk about by name concerning decora kids native to Japan. Anyway, after dinner we headed to a club and danced for a bit. This all took place in the typical snowy weather of Chicago.
The main event held on Saturday was phenomenal! Everyone came in their best coordinates covering many different substyles of gyaru fashion. I wore Amekaji gal which incorporates a lot of American street fashion influences. After eating and waiting for everyone to show up there was a cool presentation by Black Out’s head gal in charge, Reina. We all sat in chairs looking towards a podium where Reina spoke about why she organized the summit. Then the rest of Black Out stepped up and introduced themselves. What I didn’t expect was for all of us to introduce ourselves in one way or another. Representatives from 109 Degrees and Queen E stepped up to speak about how their gyarusa was being active in their local scene. Queen E plans to have their own summit soon and 109 are doing a few panels at Katsucon where gyaru is hardly discussed compared to other styles. Then unaffiliated attendees introduced themselves and added where they were in their gyaru fashion journeys.
Next were the gyaru superlative awards. They were like the high school yearbook acknowledgements except gyaru related. Categories included “Most Likely to be the Next EGG Model” and “Most Spirited Gyaru”. Black Out thought this would be a great way to showcase everyone’s different charms without a sense of competition. Attendees clapped for the winners and excitedly moved onto the Para Para portion of the event! I watched in awe as gyaru (sometimes in heels) quickly ran up to join in performing these in these intricate dances. Para Para just takes practice and there’s no need to be perfect to have fun! I was kind of jealous because if I took the time I could’ve been dancing too buuuuut Reina of course had a solve for that! The last performance we would learn on the spot and record once we got it perfect! After that we headed to Sakura Karaoke Bar to end the night with a bang!
Overall I really loved the North American Gyaru Summit! My favorite part about the summit that I think could be pulled into other jfashion meetups was the presentation part of it. Like I’d love to have an organized meeting where we introduce ourselves to everyone with no judgement, bring up current issues in the community and discuss solutions, talk about brands we want to support, etc. Something like an organized club meeting. Help others find what they need to grow their style too. I was also jealous of how connected the gyaru communities are compared to the decora and fairy kei community. My ideal “traditional” meet up would for us would be a giant sleep over where we make accessories, eat sweets, and go to a rave. I think this could work at a Tekko or Katsucon as an unofficial party before rave. The North American Gyaru Summit inspired me so much! Hopefully I’ll be able to use this inspiration for future events or in my upcoming comic!
See a vlog of the event by Pinkii here!