Kogals are known for wearing platform boots, a miniskirt, copious amounts of makeup, hair coloring (usually blonde or brown), artificial suntans, and designer accessories. If in school uniform, the look typically includes skirts pinned very high and loose socks (large baggy socks that go up to the knee). Kogals' busy social lives and desire for new material goods lead them to be among the first consumers of Japanese mobile phone technology, and their taste in clothes tends toward Burberry scarves and Louis Vuitton handbags. Kogals spend much of their free time (and their parents' income) shopping, and their culture centers on the Shibuya district of Tokyo, in particular the 109 building, although major Japanese cities are sure to have a small population. During the summer, kogals may sometimes be seen at the beach. They are generally not seen in high-end department stores.
Critics of the Kogal subculture decry its materialism as reflecting a larger psychological or spiritual emptiness in modern Japanese life. Some kogals support their lifestyle with allowances from wealthy parents, living a "freeter" or "parasite single" existence that grates against traditional principles of duty and industry.
The kogal phenomenon emerged in the mid-1990s and its effects can still be seen today in its numerous off-shoots of sub-categories, although conservative tastes in dress and hair color seem to be on the upswing. The Gothic Lolita aesthetic has been described as a reaction to the kogal look, since it attempts to reclaim childhood innocence, though skeptics point out that most Lolita merely model after J-rock cosplay and spend just as much, if not more money on their appearance when compared to kogals.
The term's etymology is disputed. The most common theory is that it was derived from the Japanese word for "high school", , or for short, although others claim that it comes from ko (子), the Japanese word for "girl" or "child". The "gal" originates from English. See gyaru.
A Japanese drama titled Gal Circle prominently features gals.