Saturday, 4 January 2014

Encyclopaedia of Alternative Fashion † Shamate

The full Encyclopaedia of Alternative Fashion can be found here.

Also known as
杀马特 (Shā mă tè), Smart

Country of origin

Gender balance
More women than men, but both are considerably represented


Shamate (a Mandarin transliteration of ‘smart’) is a subculture very similar in appearance to styles such as visual kei and scene. It is often described as a mixture of goth, cosplay, visual kei and glam. Crazy spiky and dyed hair, often with straightened fringes, is very popular, along with multiple piercings, street market-bought clothing and heavy makeup, including eyeliner, whiteface and designs drawn on the face.

Shamate use names very similar to internet handles, such as “Leftover Tears”, and gather in ‘families’ much in the way that gyaru gather in ‘circles’. They have their own online communities and their own slang, and protect these fiercely from would-be harassers and pretenders by interviewing hopeful future family members. A person named Li Kai 李凯 claims to be the founder of shamate, or at least of one particular family

Shamate is somewhat maligned in China, as a country which values obedient and ‘normal’ people. This subculture is constantly put down as weird, unsophisticated and encouraging strange behaviour. It is primarily the domain of young migrants to the major cities from the countryside, which leaves them open to attack as ‘people who are trying to look like sophisticated hipsters, but fail due to lack of education and lack of money’.

Style icons
There are a number of idols in the shamate community, but without good Chinese reading skills (and mine are pretty basic) it is difficult to get much information on them. This individual, for instance, is likely to be ‘Ghost Monster’ and is considered a top family member.

Inspiration in popular culture
There is a game available online called "Noble Shamate Academy: The Romance of Shamate” (note that the website is in Mandarin Chinese), which is essentially an RP-dating game.

Further reading and resources

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