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How Dokumo, “Amateur Fashion Models”, Have Been Making Impacts on Japanese Girls’ Fashion Culture

How Dokumo, “Amateur Fashion Models”, Have Been Making Impacts on Japanese Girls’ Fashion Culture

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Japanese female magazines are very fun to flip through it’s thick, glossy pages. Very colorful, informative and energetic, which brings the readers closer to the magazine. And one of it’s main aspect that attracts so many young females still buy magazines is the strong presence of “dokusha models.” In the Western fashion scenes, there are high popularity of runway models that walk or models for advertisements. But in Japan, the popularity is more inclined to those “dokusha models” who are still popular position in Japanese entertainment business and many of the young females are seeking to be one of them.

What is “dokusha model”?

“Dokusha Moderu (moderl),” directly translated to “reader model,” is an amateur fashion models, who models for a certain fashion magazine in parallel to their main work as a university student or an employee of a company. Most often, they are abbreviated as, “dokumo (読モ)” and although they are called to be amateurs, they may be more popular than the professional runway models. The “dokumo” girls are not as tall or have longer leg length, or even not as skinny as runway models. For example, some of the representative Japanese runway fashion models are Ai Tominaga, TAO (Tao Okamoto), or Mona Matsuoka, but their popularity are much higher abroad, especially in fashion week runways and advertisements for high-end brands. But “dokumo” are NOT the same with professional runway models. Rather, they are the representative of the readers of the specific fashion magazine, and more like the advocate of the readers and the fans of the magazine. Therefore, the magazine readers feel much closer to the “dokumo” girls and that the readers are able to coordinate their style according to their favorite “dokumo.” Some of the most successful “dokumo” are called as “charisma dokumo” as well. Many of those “dokumo” appear in the popular female magazines in any type of genre, as well as hair-cut magazines as well, sometimes call them “cut models.” Also, there are apparel shop staff who are also doing a “dokumo.” Many of the fans would visit the store, not just to shop the clothes, but also to get in touch closer with the “dokumo shop staff” as well.

Charismatic dokumo, past and present

Many of the current, successful female artists or TV personalities have come from being a “dokusha model.” These popular “dokusha models” came about through the popularity amongst the fans of the magazine, so there still have their styles remaining from the magazines they were in. Because of that, some of them make a comeback to the magazine as well. For example, for the Aomoji-type (Harajuku-type) “dokumo” were Kaela Kimura or Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Kaela Kimura used to be a “dokumo” for the magazine CUTiE and soon became the model under Seventeen. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was also one of “dokumo” from the major Aomoji-type magazine, KERA and soon on Zipper. Both of these “dokumo” had a fan base from this type of magazines and expanded their fans from their music career.

Kaera Kimura

Kaera Kimura

img_kyary_pamyu_pamyu_adidas_01

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Not only Aomoji-type magazines, but there are many successful “dokumo” within the gyaru (gal) type magazines such as “Popteen”, “Ranzuki”, and “egg.” Tsubasa Masuwaka was one of the most successful of all from her strong influence to the readers. Whatever she has worn and posted on the blog site, her fans would check her posts and buy; which those fashion items would be sold out in an instant. Tsubasa Masuwaka’s nickname at the time was, “Ten billion yen gyaru,” from the economic effect she had.

Tsubasa Masuwaka

Tsubasa Masuwaka

Also, following Tsubasa Masuwaka, Kumiko Funayama, aka Kumikky, became the most popular as well. Kumikky’s popularity was also record breaking, that she was able to be the cover of monthly magazine for 17 months in a row. She not only coordinated herself as “gyaru” as a successor of Tsubasa Masuwaka, but incorporated more a girly style, which brought in more girly-type fanbase as well.

Kumikky

Kumikky

Currently, there are “dokumo” who are seen on television shows as well for their unique character.

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Author
Satsuki
Satsuki

Grad student in Tokyo. Born in Tokyo, raised in New York, studied in London. My interests lies in Tokyo's urban street cultures and girls cultures,rock music, fashion and manga. Just livin' it up :)

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