The announcement that pioneering Japanese girl fashion magazine egg will cease publication in May 2014 hits like yet another blow of bad news in a year of bad news. First, men’s egg stops publishing, then Koakuma ageha, now…no…not egg, please not egg! Alas, this too has come to pass…
The legacy egg leaves behind is massive; it helped spurred a revolutionary shift from Japanese girls dressing to please others (i.e. pleasing boys) to the promotion of being outrageous, loud, even deliberately ugly, simply to have fun and to have fun with other girls…
And at the end of the day, fun is the ultimate commodity. Everyone wants it, but the world conspires to keep it from you. And so you keep searching for it. Looking at egg magazine was fun. It made you want to magically jump in those pages and run screaming and laughing in the streets of Shibuya, no matter where you lived or what you looked like.
Why did it die? I think a lot of people aged out of the gyaru over the last few years and no one picked it up for the next generation. egg made itself over countless times depending on the style of the day (Buriteri, Mamba, to name two). But after 2004 or so, egg seemed to promote fads that didn’t really exist like “Black Psychedelic Style” and “Bitter Girlz” to name two random ones that no one remembers now. Say what you want about Gonguro and Manba (issues of race and identity might flare up), but they were organic and were real street fashion phenomenons created by the girls themselves, which magazine editors took a chance on and placed upon a platformed-heeled pedestal.
As Ayumi Seto pointed out to me recently, there’s really no dominant style in Japan right now. While there are plenty of mini trends and must-have items, girls tend to express themselves individually with fashion these days instead of roaming the streets in packs of lookalike tans and matching thigh-high boots.
Style-wise, gyaru in Japan seem to have run their course. You just don’t see them in Shibuya anymore; a place that egg dared to imagine as the center of the world and kept their editorial offices. A lot of the energy has shifted back to Harajuku again and that scene is super crazy now, so there’s still a lot of reasons to go on living. And there are still survivors. Some of the classic egg brands and the classiv gyaru spirit still thrive at the Shibuya109, which is celebrating its 35th year in business this weekend. So, if you can and have the options, please shop there instead of H&M and Forever 21.
Make no mistake: egg’s lifespan of 1995-2014 is an incredible run for any magazine, especially in Japan where the pace of media and youth culture is fast and unforgiving. This is actually the second time that egg has ceased publication, the first time being in 2000. Could it ever come back again? Stranger things have happened, like the very existence of gyaru in the first place…
What remains now is something the makers of egg (the staff, the girls) could have only have dared to dreamed of during days and nights of hard work: a global gyaru culture; girls around the world of all nations and creeds who identify Japan and Shibuya as the the starting point for their own style and interpretation. It belongs to you crazy guys now. And as the masthead of egg used to read: GET WILD! & BE SEXY! EGG’S REVOLUTION GOING ON!
Note: all the pictures in this post date from 2000 to 2004 — the gonguro and mamba eras — which history will show constituted egg magazine’s “imperial phase”.
The legacy egg leaves behind is massive
Devastating. But if anyone’s fit to eulogize egg, it’s Patrick Macias. If you haven’t done so already, now would be a good time to read his excellent History of the Gyaru series.