Gyaru United: Japan’s Black Diamond Gals Champion a Kuro Gyaru Subculture Revival

Japan’s reputation as the street fashion capitol of the world can be traced directly to two specific Tokyo neighborhoods – Harajuku and Shibuya. Harajuku’s “kawaii” fashion scene has experienced a major boom recently as a result of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s rise. For the last few years, Shibuya’s gyaru-centric street culture has been left in the shadow of Harajuku’s resurgence. But a new force has appeared on the horizon, ready to challenge current trends and return gyaru culture to its rightful place in the sun.

Meet Black Diamond, Japan’s top kuro gyaru unit!

Japanese Kuro Gyaru - Black Diamond

“Kuro (hada) gyaru” literally means “black skin gals”. Ten years ago, their dark tans (several Black Diamond members actually work at tanning salons) may have led to these girls being labeled ganguro. However, kuro gyaru is a thoroughly modern version of the super-tanned gyaru. When it comes to fashion, Black Diamond’s kuro gyaru members share a love for the Japanese brand D.I.A., with most members wearing D.I.A. items daily.

In recent years, Japanese gyaru magazines like Egg have focused more on the less-extreme shiro gyaru (white skin gals). But Japan’s fashion scene changes quickly and there are recent signs that tans gals may be making a comeback. Egg launched “Foxy egg” this summer, a sister publication that covers the new kuro gyaru boom and showcases sexier, less conservative gals. Soul Sister Magazine also covers kuro gyaru, including running several features on members of Black Diamond.

Black Diamond’s over one hundred members come from all over Japan – from as far north as Hokkaido and as far south as Okinawa. While Shibuya remains the center of gyaru culture (Black Diamond members can frequently be seen on the streets around 109), they also hold meetings in other cities throughout Japan. The basic goals of the group are simple – to support each other through shared interests, to make friends, and to promote kuro kyaru fashion and culture both inside of Japan and abroad.

Japanese Kuro Gyaru in Shibuya

Working toward their goal of growing the kuro gyaru boom in Japan, Black Diamond members often travel from all corners of Japan to Shibuya in order to pose for, and talk to, Japanese magazines and television shows. Several members work at popular gyaru fashion brands and shops where they can interact with other gyaru and promote the culture. Some girls are also fashion models. There are even future plans to bring together a musical group consisting of Black Diamond members.

Reaching out to international fans of gyaru culture, Black Diamond have launched their own English-friendly Facebook page. Several members of the group can speak English, and these gals have posted videos on YouTube speaking directly to potential allies abroad. In the last few months, Black Diamond have begun inviting foreign gyaru to join the group. Black Diamond International has signed up over fifty girls in twenty countries thus far.

After watching Black Diamond’s popularity explode in the Japanese press over the last few months, we tracked them down to learn more. We got together with over twenty members of Black Diamond while they were in Shibuya for a meet-up. The girls were kind enough to pose for pictures and video around Shibuya, as well as sitting down with us for a chat about Black Diamond, gyaru culture, fashion, their plans for gal world domination, and much more.

Please check out our exclusive Black Diamond interview (fully subtitled in English, of course), as well the fun pictures of these amazing girls.

Interview With Black Diamond Gyaru Unit – Video

Don’t forget to Follow TokyoFashion.com on YouTube.

Black Diamond Around Shibuya – Pictures

The Kuro Gals of Black Diamond – Street Snaps

We’ll be posting more pictures of each girl’s outfit, hair, and nails soon. Check our Shibuya street snaps!

Click on any of the Black Diamond gyaru pictures to enlarge them.

We would like to say a big “Thank you!” to all of the members of Black Diamond who took the time to speak with us and pose for our photographs. We had a fun day with them in Shibuya and we hope that we’ll be seeing even more kuro gyaru around in the near future!

For more information on Black Diamond, please check these links:

 

Photos by Kira.
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About the photographer:
Born in Japan, educated in Japan and the US, Kira shoots exclusively with Canon DSLRs. Photography assignments include fashion, bands, sporting events, and portraiture for various companies and bands throughout Japan & the world. His portfolio can be viewed at Artist-Photo.

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30 Comments

  1. 1.

    Samantha (November 24, 2012)

    thank you so much for this article. It made my heart melt to see kuro gals back in mob form (I mean a circle lol)!

  2. 2.

    Amani (November 24, 2012)

    I don’t know why they’re still flaunting the foreign people on their crooz blog… Tsuyoshi dropped the International group a long time ago. He needs to remove that section altogether

  3. 3.

    Aeris (November 24, 2012)

    They are ever the most imaginative and fun! i love all of theis looks!! pretty awesome!

  4. 4.

    Carolinasunny (November 24, 2012)

    I love kuro gyarus! they are my favorite gyaru type, I wonder if one day i can be one.

  5. 5.

    Kaelyn (November 24, 2012)

    Big thank you for doing this interview. I love kuro gyaru soo very much and is my biggest dream to meet the black diamond members one day.

  6. 6.

    Melody Doll (November 24, 2012)

    I hope that they will start to use fake tan instead of sunbeds. I don’t want to see them all dying of melanoma!

  7. 7.

    rabbit (November 24, 2012)

    I don’t really like kuro gyaru – I hate tanned skin. But they seem to be very friendly & fun to hang out and it’s so sweet of them thet they try to support their fellow gyaru’s from other countries ^^

  8. 8.

    chelsea (November 25, 2012)

    Soo kawaii!! I love love this style. Egg is one of my favorite magazines!! I live up in aomori prefecture and every now and then (but not often) we will see this style at the mall. But when i went to visit tokyo and saw all of this fashion!! Ahh i love it :)

  9. 9.

    Eve (November 25, 2012)

    Kyaaaa!!! XD This style is so cute! I’ve loved it for since I first listened to Namuro Amie in the early 2000s with my cousin! Being a tan gaijin-gal, this gives me hope! \(*w*\)

  10. 10.

    Amaya (November 25, 2012)

    love love love <3

  11. 11.

    hi (November 26, 2012)

    i love this style. i am so happy to see it getting popular again.

  12. 12.

    Angelica (November 26, 2012)

    Like Jersey girls but Japanese. They are bold, I give them credit for that. :)

  13. 13.

    Marquis of Fashion (November 27, 2012)

    Someone mentioned Jersey Shore and I have to admit, at first… there was a Snooki thought that ran across my head but then it quickly vanished when I saw the fun styles and big smiles. Cute looks, thanks for posting.
    Fashion Blogger Mark St. James
    Marquis of Fashion

  14. 14.

    Kurahimeka (November 27, 2012)

    Ugh how tacky .
    Fur boots died out ages ago.

  15. 15.

    Ann (November 28, 2012)

    Wow…love how they are trying to bring back the more extreme old skool styles! :D

  16. 16.

    Elizabeth (December 1, 2012)

    Okay. I hope my comment doesnt offend anybody. I am African-American. And im a big fan of the Japanese culture. I love the fashion, anime, music, food etc. my question is this… Is it true the gyaru style and gangaruo was inspired by the African-American race and if so personally im not offended by there style of clothes or hair. I just feel like they shouldnt tan their skin to be “black” because it looks unhealthy to me for them to do that and I think asian people have naturally beautiful skin tone.

  17. 17.

    Ann (December 1, 2012)

    Hi Elizabeth
    To answer your question:. The first ganguro girls and later the manba made their skin so dark to rebel against traditional Japanese ideals of beauty – very fair porcelain skin and shiny straight black hair. It was (and still kinda is) considered shocking and controversial to want and actually walk around with tan or very tan skin…as it is associated with being of the class of people who have to work in the rice fields all day. While I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the more intense gals were giving a nod to those of african decent, It is really more of a class thing than a race thing at the end of the day.

  18. 18.

    Mon (December 10, 2012)

    I’m stoked to see this happening! I miss manba styles so much. Thanks for the great video and article, TF.

  19. 19.

    key (December 10, 2012)

    Looks like the Japanese version of Jersey Shore. Don’t get me wrong, I love Princess Gyaru Style but this sorta looks awful

  20. 20.

    ケイリーたん (December 10, 2012)

    Kuro-gyaru DO NOT TAN TO LOOK BLACK. The first gyaru were inspired by tan, blonde girls of California, and it just took off from there.
    B-gyaru do actually try to look black, but the other kuro-gyaru DO NOT.
    Thanks. :)

  21. 21.

    pumpkin (December 13, 2012)

    this style is so old-skool jpop I love it!!! as an african american I thought the same as Jessica about the gyaru girls trying to look black which i didn’t have a problem with but B-gyaru girls try to look R&B artists who are predominately black and not like black people persay. I’m just glad that their are asians who appreciate other cultures :)

  22. 22.

    Chilakkuma (December 16, 2012)

    This has nothing to do with their over-tanning themselves, but I really dislike this look. These type of gyaru styles never really seem to have an aesthetic, and it’s never quite been my cup of tea ^^;
    More power to them, though, I wish them all the best .

  23. 23.

    Leilu2k (December 18, 2012)

    I am so glad to see some gals bringing back the over-the-top cray-cray! Go Black Diamond!!

  24. 24.

    Jam @icoSnap (December 21, 2012)

    Last April when I visited Tokyo, I didn’t see any kuro gals but I saw lots of hime gyarus. I’m quite excited to go back again and hopefully see this style in person.

  25. 25.

    Leilu2k (December 31, 2012)

    I notice that a few of the girls are wearing bathroom slippers/shower shoes. Is that a thing now?

  26. 26.

    Larlarlar (January 5, 2013)

    It’s sorta… scary how black they look..BUT! After all they’re pretty KAWAII!!! No just kidding…o-o..

  27. 27.

    Ania (January 16, 2013)

    To me is sad, that these girls pay more attention to how they look instead their education.
    I guess all these sun-tanning and clothes costs pretty much. There’s a better way to spend money… aw, i always wanted to have a piano ._.
    Sorry, i’m not a supporter of gyaru. Greetings!

  28. 28.

    Flora (January 25, 2013)

    I have a question….. Their hair… are they real or wigs?

  29. 29.

    Tragic Angel (March 3, 2013)

    Oh! I do like this look an awful lot. Feel envious as even with lotions, I don’t get much colour, despite my parents…
    Also, no way do I want to show legs. Anyway, it’s a fun look and and they look fantastic. Spray tans work well if you go to someone who knows what they are doing as I tried it once.
    To the person who mentioned looks v. education…one can be concerned with both ^^ and learning instruments and music as well…
    Please, let’s not discard the shiroi

  30. 30.

    Lyd (March 9, 2013)

    I’m not a fan of this style. To me it’s not pleasing to look at at all. But there are lots of other fashions that are much worse looking than this one. xD

    Their skin is going to be like leather if they keep tanning themselves so much though… ;P

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