OraOra-kei is a damn difficult look to pull off, being as it is, a combination of two of the most extravagant forces in Japanese street fashion – Yankii and Gyaru-O. However, if done right it can pay homage to the 70s/80s Yakuza fashion, while incorporating tastes of other classic rebel fashions. In short – it can be a look that balances glamor with credibility, its mainstream popularity coming as it did as a reaction to increasing tackiness and femininity in the mainstream of Gyaru-O fashion circa 2007/2008. Now you only have to look at the streets of Shibuya and the young guys on Center-Gai to see that OraOra is the flavor of the moment, with good reason.
Continue reading for a closer look at the movement and why no-matter what your fashion persuasion there is more to like here than you were probably expecting.
Before we begin, it is very important to get one thing very clear about Japanese men’s fashion, and particularly that contained within 109-2 – namely that what a lot of foreign observers see as femininity in Gyaru-O is actually alpha male machismo. When you see a floral shirted and leopard print trousered man with hair like a cockatoo, that that is a direct rebellion against traditional Japanese male ideals (aka Salarymen) and thus has come to define a new modern masculinity. In the case of OraOra the idea that sporty macho men could be “cool” and attractive is a relatively new one, and almost certainly derived from external influence. So while OraOra and Gyaru-O are very disparate styles, they have the same ethos of masculine success. OraOra may appear more “manly” to the West, but only because that definition is closer to our own, in the context of Japan, both are alpha-male and aspirational, and for relatively similar reason.
Now, OraOra style can be summed up as: tan, tracksuit, tattoos and sunglasses, but as you will hopefully see, there is a lot going on here and a lot to be had fun with.
In terms of motifs, Japanese and American gang imagery is in abundance as is a slightly looser fit than your average Gyaru-O is used to.
Hair does not have to be shaved or slicked back, just rebellious.
OraOra does not have to be Christian Audiger rhinestone excess. Toned down, adult and serious makes the best coordinates for my money.
Combining touches of biker with club wear, like the sunglasses above, just matures the look into credibility.
And neither does OraOra have to be about sweatpants and trainers. Todays OraOra can be very fashion-forward and closer to modern onii-kei.
Neither does is have only take a dark palate.
Just keep it stripped back and uncluttered for best effect.
For the OraOra suit look it really helps to be a bit muscular to give you that broader shouldered silhouette like the above.
This is what I would call the basic OraOra look, notice that you don’t have to have a blinged out Vice Fairy tracksuit to get it right, it should be about nice luxurious touches used sparingly.
If in doubt, keep it dark and simple and let the sunglasses do all the work.
A good example of the latter point.
And I could not get away with not mentioning the King of OraOra – The Black Fox himself.
One of my personal favorite brands of 109-2 OraOra is Slangy who produced these amazing Chrome hearts inspired boots. I should say that Chrome Hearts does find itself ripped off quite obscenely by the vast majority of the OraOra brands!
Equally I really like the Second Bags:
Basically “Second Bag” describes any tiny male clutch, either in the form of a tiny briefcase or boot bag. This trend came right from the Yakuza and I for one really quite like it. It maybe the least useful way of carrying anything larger than a paperclip around, but they, along with sunglasses, are the things that any OraOra outfit cannot be without.
I am personally really glad to see new trends taking off from the Shibuya streets and attracting a whole new audience who would not normally set foot in 109-2. Add to that a couple of great mags – like Soul Japan – and there is a pretty good scene for the OraOra right now in Japan.
I hope that I have managed to show that OraOra can be a pretty fun style to experiment in and pretty inclusive of current trends. It seems that all of these styles start pretty niche and restrictive, but when they take off can become “fashion” in the truest sense of the world and for me, OraOra has finally come of age.