Japan has really created different kinds of fashion trends that have greatly influenced individuals across the world. When the famous Harajuku fashion first came to life, they labeled these fashion trends with names that are completely new and unheard of.
However, in the following years that came, these “new and unheard-of” fashion trends spread throughout different continents during their peak years and were wholesomely embraced by various cultures and races. One of these influential fashion trends from the streets of Harajuku that made headlines is the Visual Kei.
What is Visual Kei?
Visual Kei, as its general definition, is a well-known movement amongst Japanese rock musicians that involves them to be in fashion with various levels of makeup, usually over the top and dramatic, eccentric hairstyles, flamboyant costumes with a tinge of an androgynous feature that is similar to glam rock.
To give you a short introduction as to where the word “visual kei” came from one of X Japan’s, a Japanese rock band, slogan, “Psychedelic Violence Crime of Visual Shock” which was seen in their second studio album Blue Blood. It was believed to have been coined by Seiichi Hoshiko, the founding editor of Shoxx Magazine. It appeared in the first publication that was solely about the subject of Visual kei.
In 2018, Hoshiko explained that the term visual kei was actually inspired by X Japan’s lead guitarist Hideto Matsumoto. At the peak years of X Japan’s, there were often referred to as “Okeshou Kei” meaning makeup style but Hoshika felt like the term was “too cheap and lack substance.” Because of his abhorrence of the term, he tries to remind writers from time to time to use the term “visual-shock kei” instead. From then, from visual shock kei to visual kei and eventually, even abbreviated to V-kei.
Visual Kei Subgenres
Visual kei, as a whole, might be what you think it is. But surprise! It has actually had a lot of subgenres. If you see a fashion trend on the streets, you might think it’s a completely different trend, however, you might be surprised to find that these are actually are a part of the different subgenres of visual kei.
Let’s see what are these subgenres!
Oshare Kei is the VK subgenre that is distinguishable from the rest, mainly because it is completely different from the usual and standard VK fashion. The term oshare kei means “fashionable style.” From that alone, you’d know that this subgenre is appealing and attractive to the eyes, due to their colorful style. The oshare kei is also the most prominent and popular out of all the VK subgenres. Their bubbly style is not for the looks only, most of their songs also embraced a cheery tune and concept, such as lyrics that add positive messages on life, love, friendship, and relationship. These songs and lyrics are greatly popular among teenagers.
The term angura kei means underground style. This subgenre, more especially, in the aspect of music is famous for expressing their thoughts on Japanese culture, tradition and ideals. Their songs are also used as a bridge to express their dissatisfaction with Japan and its politics, culture and history. Many bands wh embrace this subgenre usually have a hard rock sound. Due to the obviously dark color scheme in terms of their look and the similarity to music genre, angura kei is often confused and associated with eroguro kei. In terms of makeup, bands with this concept also use Japanese Shironuri (white face) makeup style.
The term Nagoya kei is exactly how it sounds. A style that originated from Nagoya, the largest city in the region of Chubu. Along with oshare kei, this style is one of the most stand-out and famous within the subculture of Visual kei. The color scheme of the style revolves around dark colors, mostly black and white. It is similar to the American “Goth” style.
The term tanbi kei directly translates to “aesthetical style.” Though it is important to note that instead of being “aesthetic,” it is more European-inspired. Another important thing to keep in is that nobody seems to use the term tanbi kei but just European-inspired is enough to know what people are talking about.
The style was said to have been created by the famous band Malice Mizer. The style features romance and visually-pleasing outfits that have a major tinge of elegance and royalty.
Kote kei to point it into simpler terms means “Over the top visual shock.” Kote kei is considered the oldest and the first style of VK and is the blueprint for the numerous subgenres of visual kei.
However, in order to be called a kote kei, a band has to be present in the times of mid-eighties to the late nineties. Some bands that were formed during the early 2000s can quality as kote kei as well. The style is all about the crazy hair and outfit and dramatic and exaggerated makeup.