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'Skirt boys' make waves in wild world of Tokyo street fashion

The Mainichi Daily News
Skirt tribe" members stand in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward.

Skirt tribe" members stand in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward.

Walking through the lively districts of Harajuku and Shibuya in Tokyo, one might encounter a sight unusual to many people's eyes: men in skirts. Not kilts or kimono, but skirts.

Called "the skirt boys," or "skirt tribe," the skirt-wearing men of Tokyo are beginning to get some attention from the fashion world. And so, though it may be a little rude, I have to ask: How is this different from being a cross-dresser?

I see my first skirt-clad man in Harajuku on a weekday afternoon, his garment made of an almost transparent white cotton, with pretty geometric designs along the hem. He is a second-year art student named Haruki Shana.

"I liked the way the hem flutters in the wind," he says. "I got it at a used clothes shop for 1,000 yen."

Shana says he first wanted a skirt after seeing the robes in the "Harry Potter" films, and now has four that he made himself. He also says that he first became aware he was part of a trend when an employee at the driver's license testing center said, "So, there really is a skirt tribe."

When asked how wearing skirt is different than cross-dressing, Shana says, "Cross-dressers are people who want to be girls. I'm not wearing this because it's what girls wear, but because I like the line and the texture of the material."



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