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High school girl skirt lengths and hair fashions once again in a flux

22 Comments
Photo: REUTERS file

As Japan finds itself on the cusp of a new imperial reign -- to be named Reiwa, according to the government's announcement on April 1 -- the nation's collective eyes briefly turned upwards, in the direction of the over 1,200 years of continuous, uninterrupted generations of Japan's imperial family.

Having done that, reports Nikkan Gendai (Apr 11), the focus shifted downward to the hemlines of the skirts of teenage girls. It seems that in the past, as one of the signs of the times, hemlines on the skirts of the "JK" have moved in response to economic or social attitudes. 

"JK" is not an abbreviation for "joke," but for joshi kosei, or high school girl. Yasuko Nakamura, a cognoscenti who markets to this particular demographic, predicts flat out that "skirt hems are going to get shorter."

If one looks back to a previous generation, JK fashions went through an extreme period, where the uniform of the day consisted of miniskirts, bobby sox that flopped around the ankles, thick-soled boots and hair tinted light brown (chapatsu). After school classes let out, speckles of glitter were also sprinkled around the edges of their eyes for added effect. 

Then as the Heisei era progressed, the pendulum swung back in the opposite direction.

"Nobody in my school has dyed hair," a high school sophomore tells the reporter. "And socks are all the same type -- usually long navy blue ones."

A freshman at another school said the length of her skirt carefully conforms to school regulations. "The appearance doesn't cause anybody to get out of whack," she adds.

According to a survey conducted by a research outfit named Girls' Trends, only 11.55% of teenage girls in 1996 (women who are currently about age 40) wore their hemlines at 15 centimeters or higher above their knees. The figure for JKs in 2018? A considerably higher 33.6% said their skirt hems were 15 cm above the knee. Or higher. 

From the view of today's high school girls, however, loose, floppy white sox and short hemlines did not afford a very good balance. "Now it's popular to wear very short sox or long sox that we let slip down to expose the ankle bones," one JK tells Nikkan Gendai. "That makes our legs appear more slender," she added.  

But a 38-year-old former gyaru -- as the JKs were referred to in the 1990s -- doesn't care at all for the new look.

"I was jolted by the sight of it," she was quoted as saying, adding she actually felt like screaming out loud. "I think most of the girls now can wear normal sox because they have longer legs. Really short sox in my view are dasai (out of fashion).

The aforementioned Ms Nakamura was asked why these changes seem to be happening now, and she replied, "The JKs' skirt lengths are linked to the winds of change and social conditions.

"From the late 1990s when we saw popular fads like PHS (personal handiphone system) and mobile phones and the purikura (print club photo machines), skirt hems became increasingly shorter and more girls dyed their hair," Nakamura said. "After the stock market crash in 2008, and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, many girls' skirt hems went back down to knee length, and they stopped dying their hair."

A simpler rule of thumb for following skirt lengths might just be timing it to the adoption of "Abenomics," as no noticeable changes have taken place during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's present tenure, which began in December 2012. With the imminent start of the Reiwa era, however, it's clear that styles are once again becoming more extreme. Perhaps it's reflection that teens' outlooks have turned more optimistic?

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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This article is a JK....

11 ( +12 / -1 )

"skirt hems are going to get shorter."

Is this good or bad?

"Now it's popular to wear very short sox or long sox that we let slip down to expose the ankle bones,"

Now that's going too far!

And socks are all the same type -- usually long navy blue ones."

Whatever happened to the white loose socks?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The only girl in the photo who is wearing her mask properly is the one second from the left.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The only girl in the photo who is wearing her mask properly is the one second from the left.

Bet she's a pre-med student.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The JKs' skirt lengths are linked to the winds of change

Then the JKs are going to have to be careful. Wouldn't want those winds of change whipping things up too far...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Dress code depends upon each.

If a girl has beautiful legs, she either shows or hides.

If a girl has unattractive legs, she either hides or doesn't care to show.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

After the stock market crash in 2008, and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, many girls' skirt hems went back down to knee length, and they stopped dying their hair."

Well that's an interesting theory, although I doubt the girls cared much about the stock market crash if they were even aware of it...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I do not understand the trend, if such a thing exists, for high schoolers in Japan to have to dye their hair if it does not naturally conform to a "norm." Is this a real thing? Why does it happen?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Either way their legs are not attractive lol.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I wonder what it would take to change the fascination with high school girls. I think it's kimoi.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My girls are probably going to become high schoolers during the Reiwa period and I really don't care how they choose to wear their skirts and socks. However, I would feel a lot more comfortable if it was an issue for them, their friends, and the schools, rather than a topic of national debate.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"I was jolted by the sight of it," she was quoted as saying, adding she actually felt like screaming out loud. "I think most of the girls now can wear normal sox because they have longer legs. Really short sox in my view are dasai (out of fashion).

Sox? This isn't a report about baseball teams. The word is "socks" when spoken as a single word, unlike bobbysox which can be written also as bobbysocks.

I hated those long loose socks. The new fashion is much better.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if there is a correlation or and statistics to the shorter the skirt the more "Up skirt pictures " were taken and men getting caught ? or longer skirt, are they more of a challenge?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why is there so much concern about what high school girls wear?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just keep one long and the other short, all is fine in the world! Lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

First world problems in a Second world country.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Maybe looking at the picture if pedestrian crossings were freshly painted, along with all road markings there would be fewer accidents, yesterday an old guy today a bus, a least fewer unemployed old children killing their parents this week.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Actually, here's a better tip for Japanese people. Use your eyes, not just thinking a green crossing light is some impenetrable shield which protects you as you cross the street. Check out how many cars will blow thru a red light even 5-10 seconds after turning. Certainly won't help you when you are in the middle of the road. Use your eyes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Mmmm..School girls. ..

Check out their hands....

Their bloody shirt sleeves are nearly coveing their hands.

It looks stupid and its a hazard when grabbing things.

Go School Girls. ....You Rock my Day !!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Its a bit unsettling that there is so much attention being given to minors' skirts and socks..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A picture of my mom in high school in the 70s shows a skirt down to her ankles.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why is there so much concern about what high school girls wear?

Although a particularly acute issue for Japan, marketers seem focused on females and the young the world over. It’s where the money is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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