Nerd of the Week

Meet Tammy, a Japanese Street Fashion Nerd

Interview by Terra Olsen 

You have a lot of nerdy passions, but many seem to go together in your love for Japanese Street Fashion. How did Japanese Street Fashion spark the nerd in you?

As a fan of Japanese pop culture, street fashion has always been one of those avenues that mixed together a few of my other passions. Art and design, plus a little history, all rolled up into something functional that makes a statement. BAM! So much fun. I find some of the styles especially interesting because of where they pull their inspiration from whether it’s the Victorian or Rococo periods, 80s toys pastels, or the beaches of Hawaii. It’s a rad to see styles get mish-mashed between the east and west, a bit like a game of telephone. Oversized fuzzy bow with jingly stars hanging off of a mop of teal hair? Yes please! Like many nerd-doms, Japanese Fashion can represent an alternate version of yourself, or a facet folks don’t get to see that often. 

Vani, one of the models for 6% DOKIDOKI, rockin' it.  Photo credit:

Vani, one of the models for 6% DOKIDOKI, rockin’ it. Photo credit:

How did you first discover Japanese Street Fashion? 

One of my best friends and I got into anime when we were kids (Gunbuster, represent!), in the early 90s, and every other aspect of Japanese culture was new to us. Anime exposed us to Japanese food, cosplay, manga, language and more. Naturally Japanese Street Fashion followed. One thing I find appealing was that some of the styles challenges traditional beauty ideals. Skin and hair color is generally prized as pale, with dark hair in many Asian countries, uniform to the rest of the group. A B-gyaru definitely stands out on the train in a generally ethnically homogenous country like Japan, and street fashion sometimes is an interpretation of other pop cultures too. It’s funny, because manAdd Mediay styles borrow from each other, yet they’re categorized into their specific styles. Currently some of my favorite styles are Gyaru (specifically Ganguro and Gyaru Hime), Decora, Fairy Kei and Wa-Lolita. Bright colors and textures and cupcakey things make me happy. Bad girls are where it’s at.

Ganguro, popular in the Shibuya district of Tokyo were emergent in the early 2000s

How has Japanese Street Fashion impacted you creatively and in your daily life?

Besides my wallet, you mean? Japanese Street Fashion definitely has affected my tastes, especially in jewelry and hair accessories. While it’s not so appropriate for me to show up in a Godzilla kigurumi at work on a daily basis, I can rock a bow (or 3), at work, apply “panda-makeup” on the weekends, or add an umpteenth charm to my phone/3DS. Creatively, it influences my illustrations for sure, but at times some of the polka-dot/lace/sparkle patterns sneak their way into my Graphic Design work. The color palettes and patterns that come from it are often nostalgic, reminiscent Lisa Frank + Muppets + Kabuki in a blender. A lot of my favorite illustrators and mangaka, like Yumi Kayukawa, Moyoco Anno and Junko Mizuno

Tammy in a decora-mish mash in a summer Godzilla kigurmi at GeekGirlCon '12. Photo credit - SmallRiniLady

Tammy in a decora-mish mash in a summer Godzilla kigurmi at GeekGirlCon ’12. Photo credit – SmallRiniLady

Where do you want to take your passion for Japanese Street Fashion and art in the future? 

There are a few projects that I have sitting on the back-burner, 1 specifically a line of dolls influenced by Japanese Street Fashion (much like Blythe, Pullip and other BJD styles), and it will continue to bleed into my illustrations and design work. It would be tons of fun to collaborate with another artist or company to create a line of accessories. Kitten astronauts anyone? I’m sure it’s been done, dangit – if not, WATCH OUT NOW! KITTEN ASTRONAUT purses and shoes, comin’ your way!

How do you keep up with the latest and greatest in this ever-growing genre of fashion?

Fortunately, with the internet, it’s way easier and faster to keep up on ever-evolving fashion trends in Japan. There are a ton of blogs, and even sites and forums catered to specific tastes. Japanese streets is a great site that posts pics hot-and-fresh, and Style Arena Japan is great for more checking out shops/brands/trends. Magazines I pick up on the regular (mainly gyaru style) are usually Egg, Popteen, Vivi, Cure, or Kimono Salon (dancing Kabuki for a couple of years will do that to ya!). The sparklier and more neon rainbows on the cover, the higher the chances I’ll pick it up. So much to absorb and keep up on!

If you’re curious about more of the history on a lot of these styles, check out Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno or Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential; really neat insight on a variety of trends. Want more street snaps? Fresh FruitsJapanese Street Style and The Tokyo Look Book are all awesome. Now there are a lot more shops state-side that carry Japanese Street Fashion-influenced clothes and accessories. Did I mention how much this impacts my wallet?

Favorite moment or memory Japanese Street Fashion?

Aw man! I got to meet Sebastian Matsuda of 6% DOKIDOKI, as well as models, Vani and Yuka at Sakura-Con 2011.. So rad, and too stinkin’ cute. I wanted to put Vani and Yuka in my pocket, in hopes that their awesome style would bleed into the mine, haha! That, and another favorite memory was the presentation day in college for my line of dolls – a whole year’s worth of blood, sweat, tears, and stress hives over in less than 15 minutes! Woo-hoo!


Hailing from only-sometimes-stinky-Tacoma Washington, Tammy Vince Cruz is a Japan-o-phile, obsessed with pandas and dreams one day of being a Toy Designer. A Graphic Designer by day, and kitten wrangler at night, her top 3 games played the most include Phantasy Star Online, Animal Crossing, and Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Current shows in Instant Queue include KDrama, Game of Thrones and anything by the late Satoshi Kon. If you scan her bookcase, you’ll find josei manga, and many art books ranging from instructo art to the cutesy horror of Junko Mizuno. Favorite pastimes include illustration, kabuki, cosplay, and belting out 80s karaoke. Her Pantone Color is 7514 C and CMYK Values are C=16 M=37 Y=43 K=0. Follor her on twitter and on tumblr

Do you know a self-proclaimed nerd we should interview? If so, please contact Terra at and tell us about them.