Tokyo Street Style got the chance to interview Tsubasa Masuwaka, the queen herself! Model, former gyaru, singer, actress, businesswoman, CEO of a makeup company, and mother; there is nothing she can’t do!
First of all, could you introduce yourself ?
My name is Tsubasa Masuwaka. During my youth, I was a model of Popteen and Egg Magazine. After that, I had a lot of opportunities such as going on Japanese national TV. While working as a model and on TV, I created and started managing my own brands: DOLLYWINK (cosmetics), EATME (fashion), and also a brand of contact lenses.
Masuwaka-san, we’ll begin with a throwback since lots of people around the world know you first from your Gyaru-era. Do you realize the impact you had concerning the Gyaru style in Japan but also worldwide? You are a real source of inspiration for a lot of us!
To be honest, at first, I didn’t know that foreigners knew me or heard about me before! During my first trip to Los Angeles, US, I went to some Japanese supermarkets and I saw my DOLLYWINK false eyelashes and some other makeup products. I thought “Ah I also exist abroad”, it was really a confusing experience.
In Asia, you can find posters of me almost everywhere. I sometimes receive pictures from my friends living in Europe when they see my false eyelashes somewhere there. Thanks to them I realized people knew about me also outside of Asia. I was really surprised but so happy about it!
This question came a lot from our followers : What is Gyaru-style for you now and is there any reason for this changement? And which style would define you now : Larme, Menhera, Fetish, how would you define its concept
In my opinion, the Gyaru culture is not as present as before in Japan these days. Of course, there are still Gyaru these days but styles that are more adult-like, cute but still natural with a fair complexion are trendy. For me, Gyaru means dark complexion, extravagant eyelashes, very curly hair like a doll,10 years ago, during the Heisei Era. But we see it less now. Now, what’s trendy is the Menhera/Jirai style which means a dark lip and eye makeup, very Yami but with a white complexion. They wear monochrome/monotonous outfits, such as what I sell on EATME. Yeah, that’s what young people like these days.
In my case, I like second-hand and luxury items which I love to mix together to give a “street” style. I also cut my hair very short so instead of having a sweet and girly look, I am more in a unisex style where both men and women can take inspiration. I really like to dress without thinking of what genders “should” wear.
We have noticed on TikTok and especially since the first lockdown, that many foreigners like your style and would like to start to do the same. Do you have any advice to give them to start well?
Eeeh? Really? I am the one admiring foreigners and their features that bring out the eyes. Myself, I wish I could have a doll face like they do (laughs). And really, I admire you and I do my best to look like them! So hearing that people want to look like me makes me happy but it’s also a weird feeling. I want to look like you! (laughs) We, Japanese we have a flat face and we do natural makeup looks but foreigners, no matter their age, can wear whatever they want and everyone likes it. For example, abroad, everyone admires and supports old people who assume their amazing hairstyles. In Japan, it’s not the case yet but I want this kind of thinking to come to my country too. That’s why it’s me who wants to be like them! (laughs). But in Japan we have so many things from abroad that we don’t know, we’re still a bit too closed.
I would like to share the trends and good sides of Japan with the world and I would like them to share it with us too.
Japanese fashion evolved a lot between the Heisei and Reiwa eras ? What are the biggest differences to you ?
Mmh, that’s true! During the Heisei era, everything was “extreme” and showy: big eyes, tanned skin,… That’s actually the period where Gyaru was very trendy but the other trendy styles were also similar and also had very showy makeup.
However, these days, trends are more focused on taking care of our skin to look kawaii and natural. Even if we came back to a more natural appearance with the Reiwa Era, we feel the influence from abroad. Before moms were supposed to have dark hair and look neat. Now it’s more “no matter your age, position,… do whatever you want” and it brings some fresh air. It’s really a good evolution!
Where did your inspiration come from to create your own cosmetics brands DOLLYWINK and CandyDoll and then clothing brand EATME ? Can you explain the concept for each one of them ?
First, CandyDoll is focused on Base and Lip makeup. DOLLYWINK is focused on eye makeup. The idea is to create products that suit me and that I want to use. There are many cosmetics producers that don’t actually use their products, but it’s not my case. I love what I sell. I use them every day and they are always in my bag. My products are for everyone, can be used on a daily basis, and are really convenient to take with you everywhere. Young students, Office workers, Beginners in makeup, Busy moms and everyone else can use my products.
Lastly, EATME has a “Fetish Mode” theme. EATME actually comes from my love for Europe! I got inspired by the European atmosphere and mixed it with the Japanese culture which resulted in this “Fetish mode” concept. These days, EATME is pretty popular among young girls and there was even a trend on social media where they posted pictures of themselves in these dresses.
DOLLYWINK is very popular overseas and evolved a lot with its aesthetic but also with new products such as the Easylash collection, which foreign followers don’t know much about. Is this renewal following your transition from Gyaru to your current style ? How would you define the new DOLLYWINK ?
As we discussed earlier, the Heisei Era was a synonym for extravagant and showy looks in Japan, and it was also the case in terms of false eyelashes. When the Reiwa Era arrived, we went back to a natural style, which didn’t happen abroad I think. Here in Japan, big eyelashes are a bit old-fashioned now, that’s why we created Easy Lash to match the change to a natural Era. Japanese don’t have a lot of volume on their eyelashes even after applying mascara but with EasyLash you can put it on easily, get a nice volume and it’s well-blended with the natural eyelashes so it stays natural even if the lashes are fake. It’s perfect for people who never used false eyelashes but also for those who want to switch from a showy look to a wiser one. I really want foreigners to try the Easy Lash collection, whether it be the eyelashes, the eyeliners, or the eyeshadows.
How are you dealing with your life as an entrepreneur but also your family life with that many different projects ? Everyone admires you for that !
My son is now 12 and he was enrolled in an American Elementary School and after passing his exams he entered an English-speaking middle school. He is bilingual and can speak English as you do (laughs). We don’t live together so I can’t prepare him bento in the morning etc… It’s a bit like the second big period of my life has started and I am more alone and have more free time. It’s also a bit sad.
But that means that I don’t really separate my private life from my professional life as now it has become the same thing. As I am a CEO, even when I go out to have fun, my phone, my LINE notifications, and my emails are always active and I usually take care of it as soon as I can on my laptop. Everything is linked but I don’t feel stressed even if I’m pretty busy.
Concerning my private life, I love to organize home parties with my friends where we talk about our children’s lives. I love this culture that people abroad have to always be together (outside from parties) in daily life, whether it be as a couple or with grandparents,… I find this lifestyle very interesting because we meet, we share our lives and we support each other for the next day. I would like this lifestyle to start developing in Japan and that’s why I do it myself. This lifestyle is much more evolved! (laughs)
You have a YouTube Channel, can you talk about it so our followers can learn more about it ? Also, do you have any plans to propose english subs for an overseas audience ?
My YouTube channel is devoted to my daily makeup, fashion, cooking, and vlogging. To be honest I am thinking of adding English subtitles but this translation would have to be adapted to be able to share the Japanese culture worldwide. People abroad know me by my old Heisei era style so I would like to share my new style abroad more!
Have you ever been abroad/overseas ? What is the place you want to visit the most?
I have traveled a lot, for shooting or for holidays. I have also lived in New York and Los Angeles for one month. My favorite place is England, whether it be for its fashion or for its atmosphere. Because of COVID, I’m stuck in Tokyo, no matter where I want to travel again! Also, I haven’t gotten the chance to meet my fans abroad so I would like to do that too during fashion- or beauty-related events in different countries.
Do you know some English/French words ?
Ah (laughs). As my son was in an American School, I learned some words while helping him with homework. He also inspired me to go to an Eikaiwa (English-speaking) School myself, so I learned some words there too.
Unfortunately, I don’t speak English (laughs) but I really want to one day! If I listen to a conversation in English, I can understand what it’s about but talking is hard. I want to become bilingual! Speak English is actually fun! When I lived in Los Angeles, I used some words to go to the supermarket, to a restaurant, to take an Uber, while doing some shopping,… When I was with friends at a restaurant, I was trying to explain something very simple (that shiratama dango rises to the surface when ready in the broth). As Japanese, we get very embarrassed when we make mistakes but if we don’t practice, how can we become better? On the contrary, in Japan, foreigners try hard to talk even if their Japanese is not perfect. We all make an effort to understand each other and that creates a great atmosphere.
I want to learn English and many other languages including french that I find it very classy, to be able to talk to as many people as possible.
You manage a lot of brands (DOLLYWINK, CandyDoll, EATME). Do you have any goals for the future ? We have also seen the announcement of your upcoming web magazine called TOKYODOT. Can you tell us more about it?
In the future, first I want to expand my products worldwide. For TOKYODOT, I received an offer from Nylon Japan to make it a printed magazine, and the first issue sold everywhere in Japan was sold out on Amazon and in shops in Shibuya. It was about “things they don’t teach you at school.)
I don’t know how it is abroad but in Japan, once we become more adult, we have this vision that we should become more wise and calm and act like someone who reached the thirties.
There is a dichotomy between the young and the old and communication do not take place well between generations. Also in Japan, if you fail once, everyone around will remember it, and you are considered a failure and you are not entitled to anything. But I would like to say that, even if there are setbacks, you can start again, tackle other challenges and that is not a bad thing. I would like to highlight that no matter your age, gender, age, position, you can still shine on your own. It’s the current era and this magazine is proof of that. It’s a magazine that anyone can read and enjoy, discovering Japanese fashion and culture. Especially for foreign tourists who come to Tokyo, I would like it to be the first thing they buy to experience the city or the first thing they want to experience even from home! I want to do a global version of the magazine too so you can all read it!
Do you have a message for your foreign fans ?
Oh yes! No matter your age, stay yourself, do what you want and what makes you vibrate. Don’t hesitate to share your life, style, personalities on social media because it can inspire you like it inspired me with my different encounters abroad. And most importantly, be free!
Lastly, I have not gotten the chance to meet you all abroad yet so I will do my best to create this opportunity and I can’t wait to meet you all!