Exploring Duality in Black Cottage Core x Gyaru Kawaii Styles

Hey Shoppe Gal family!

A while ago, when I started my podcast, I told y’all that I’d like us to take a journey through imposter syndrome by way of Japanese street fashion, specifically Harajuku or kawaii styles.

In case you missed, my lifestyle falls under what is classified as sensational kawaii. And the operative word is sensational. Which means to invoke excitement … usually in the way of public interest. I call it a positive spectacle.

When I entered this life of sensational kawaii, I was super depressed and suicidal. But also a tattoo artist and knew something about me had to change if I was to last in my new found career. I was the only girl (hence my book’s name Shoppe Gal) and guys really thought I was there as a whole Black girl tattoo fetish. And while even that energy can be leveraged for my bottom line, I’m just not that girl ~

In fact I appear bubbly, but that is the customer service, cordial, ‘treat people how you wanna be treated’ part of me. But the other side of me is spicy af and will cut you down to the white meat with looks and words alone.

I KNOW this about me and needed to find a balance …

I just didn’t know it’d happen through alternative fashion *kanye shrug*

I Didn’t Choose the Kawaii Life, It Chose Me!

This is a chant you’ll hear all around the kawaii community. But for me it is way too true >.<

Thankfully at a critical time in life when I NEEDED to conquer imposter syndrome, I fell into finding me through J-fashion .. it may have been haphazardly but we’re here now.


🌸🎀💖 Hey kawaii creatives! Let’s take a journey exploring imposter syndrome types through Japanese Street Fashion. Working with creatives to build confidence to create for profit, we’ve been talking how to take action to build self-confidence and silence our inner critic. So I thought I’d share my *ahem* ongoing journey. Thanks for tapping in!


Alongside using it as a way to redirect the male gaze of guy customers from my assets to my skillsets, I found I was creating and communicating boundaries for myself even in the shop. Flip side of that coin is that with Jfashion and being able to explore styles I was also communicating my innate dualities –

hard vs. soft :: aggressive vs vulnerable :: baddie-chan vs. mama-chan (aka ipukeGYARU vs ipukeKAWAII)

CATEGORY: Is Always Baddie-chan vs. Mam-chan

Recently, the stars aligned and I explored myself and personal dualities through two styles –

cultparty kei x gyaru

for Black cottage core day and Gyary 109 day.

Funny thing is, I’ve recently started mashing up for my own consistent kawaii109 style ~

But for now let’s dig into this lookbook of Black cottage core and gyaru


Black Cottage Core Day #BLKcottagecore

I struggle with vulnerability, being soft, just existing, embracing that I deserve, and all that jazz. Non-confrontational is not really my jam. EVERYTHING is a fight! And that isn’t alway the space I need to live in.

Thing is, I KNOW this so I’m always willing to take time to explore my own vulnerability and what that looks like for me – in public AND private.

So you can imagine that I was NOT missing this day … tattoo work day and all ~

Black Cottage Core Day was celebrated Oct. 9 and included related and inspired internet-birthed styles such prince & princess core, royal core and liege core.

To better understand cottage core and it’s internet birth check out The Comm Online’s 7 TRENDS THAT WERE BORN ONLINE

Enjoy this casual cult party kei photo set shot by Blu Vision Production, edited by me for this year’s contribution to one of the softest Black girl rebellion movements the web has blessed to be graced with ~


Gyaru 109 Month

In contrast to the softness of cult party and cottage core, is Gyaru – a Shibuya style I have loved since day one. HOWEVER, I have struggled with exploring myself through this style. The specific sub-style I am attracted to is manba and ro/yomanba Ganguro styles.

The look is so obnoxiously cool, carefree, and AGGRESSIVE!

But I’ve been scared of triggering my natural aggression when wearing it.

For Super Gals’ sake … I carry knuckle dusters, capable of swiping a blade from under my tongue and lead with “I wish a nicca would” kinda vibe most times …

I told y’all EVERYTHING is a fight *box me* But during the panini I decided to dive in without my babysitter/ senpai/ best friend who’s been holding my scaredy ass hand to kindly educate me on the style and culture.

In that time, you know… hanging out on the internet (cuz wtf else was life then), I came into great company with my (now) gyaru sister, DD Kyoko. Welcoming me with open arms we started vibing on some What’s New Gyaru ish (no really peep part 1 & part 2) and I haven’t looked back since ~

Gyaru 109 month was celebrated September 9 – October 9, concluding on 10/9. For gyaru everywhere 109 is like an angel number that denotes our iconic shopping mall, Shibuya 109, the hub of Gyaru subculture.

To learn more about Gyaru 109 Month, the fashion and lifestyle in general and see some REALLY cute effin’ pics, check out Himekaji Gyaru blogger, Reila at her blogspot, The Name I Love.

Check out more of my personal style journey get my full Q&A and learn more about my preferred Harajuku styles in Shoppe Gal Entrepreneurship Mag, Issue 1

Gyaru Magazine, Personal Branding Mag, Neurodivergent artist

Ganbatte, ne ~

comment here or stop by to leave a voice message and let me know how it’s going for yah!

As always, I’M ROOTING FOR YOU!

Imani K Brown, Tattoo Artist /Author /Brand Coach


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Love you bunches!

🌸🎀💖