Bizarre and daring outfits, outrageous makeup with heavy eyeliner, vibrant highlights and colourful hair streaks – these are the things usually seen on the K-pop idols that offers a certain visual appeal to the crowd. However, all of these are not enough to impress the crowd because what is becoming in a trend in the world is inseparable with the current fashion trend. Hallyu may have spread across the globe through their synchronized choreography and upbeat pop music, but the fashion world, especially in Asian market are shaken by the influence of K-pop as well. K-pop fashion has gained much more attention compared to the olden days as more people are now admiring the K-pop idols’ sense of style and luxurious items they own.
Japanese Harajuku style may be K-pop fashion’s biggest rivals, but the real rivalry too place among the idols and even their followers in the world of K-pop. K-pop fashion has become the centre of attention of the world and is generally adopted by teenagers. If we dig deeper, K-pop fashion was possibly pioneered by South Korean girl group, 2NE1 , who first debuted a unique kind of style that was different from the usual cute-aegyo (aegyo: the act of being cute) style. Of course, people were surprised to see this new concept and 2NE1 has instantly gained a huge following because of their distinct difference from the other K-pop groups.
Since then, fashion has become the most important element of K-pop as more and more K-pop idol groups were seen changing their concept to something more daring, fierce and edgy. All musicians come with signature style with their characteristic on the stage and only a few can imitate their style perfectly. Nowadays, K-pop idols are seen wearing the latest collection of the fashion brands such as Givenchy, Balmain, Prada, Chrome Hearts and 3.1 Phillip Lim. These fashion brands have gained the attention of K-pop fans especially those who are fashion enthusiasts so the fans start to follow the trend of wearing luxurious brand. Obviously, the fans were not only obsessed with their idols when the luxury brand consumption has increased steadily all over the world. Everybody wanted to look as gorgeous and stylish as these K-pop stars that it became the trend for K-pop hipsters and wannabes.
The airport has become many K-pop idols’ fashion runway right now as more and more media outlets are focusing on the K-pop idols’ everyday sense of style too. The entertainment company foresee fashion as a way to promote the group. Therefore, K-pop idol groups are expected to wear outfits designated by their stylists wherever they go including the airport. Airport fashion has since become the ‘It’ thing in the world of K-pop with fans comparing the celebrities travelling style.
Speaking of stylists, K-pop fans should probably thank their stylists too, as they made the most contribution in styling average idols to the fashionable and stylish K-pop stars who are in trend. In fact, most of the outfits worn the K-pop stars are sponsored by fashion brands or borrowed from the stylists. K-pop stars are in no way able to purchase luxurious goods but even if they do, they’re possibly K-pop acts who’ve earned great success in album sales, tours, etc. Moreover, fashion brands also sponsor their outfits to help them promote the designer goods and earn recognition as well in a fashion spread. For example, Big Bang has previously endorsed more than 5 fashion brands including FILA, Uniqlo and North Face while Girl Generation endorses the famous watch brand Casio. Other groups were seen endorsing beauty products too.
The relation between K-pop and fashion doesn’t just end here as K-pop idols are known for their friendship with several well-known fashion designers. For one, 2NE1 especially the leader CL is known for their close friendship with American fashion desinger, Jeremy Scott and they were seen wearing a lot of Jeremy Scott’s outfits in their music videos as well. Key from SHINEE was seen posing with the designer from Primitive London, a network of underground designers, artists and musicians whereas G-Dragon has a close friendship with Japanese rapper and fashion designer Verbal Ambush and his wife Yoon.
K-pop idols also attended local and international fashion shows, where they’re even spotted sitting very close to various fashion icons. Girl Generation’s members SeoHyun, Yoona and Tiffany wore Burberry at the London Fashion Week to represent Korea last year, whereas G-Dragon attended several fashion shows with Junya Watanabe during Paris Fashion Week. The Hallyu has grown so strong that even some desingers include the upbeat K-pop songs in the song tracks for their fashion show (G-Dragon “I Am Mugler” for Mugler’s Menswear Collection & Secret “Love is Move” at Tokyo Fashion Music Show).
The designer goods seen on K-pop idols has indeed made the fans become brand-conscious and spending ridiculous amount of money on the branded goods. As these branded items are often priced more than one would generally afford, the market foresees that making fake designer goods at a slightly lower price can attract the K-pop fans into buying these knock-offs. One such example is the increase of K-pop inspired outfits worn by the leader of Big Bang, G-Dragon in his “Crayon” and “One Of A Kind” music videos. Other than that, the rookie South Korean-Chinese boy-group EXO M has also gained some attention from the overseas fans too when their logo imprinted on the labels of the plaid shirt were circulating the web in China and the international fandom. All of these have helped boosting the sales of the fashion brands and also the entire economic growth in Korea.
Besides the obvious fashion trend, there are some fashion blogs dedicated to K-pop fashion fashion enthusiasts list down all the brands worn by the idols with the price of their clothes. The most popular dedicated K-pop fashion website include Soshi Styling, Kstylish, Eiffel In Seoul, EXO Couture and so on. Other than that, several fansites also posted the fashion brands worn by their idols as well in their fansite’s forum which is only available for the members to see. The K-pop idols’ sense of style have influenced the majority of the K-pop fans and thus, ignites their passion towards fashion and becoming fashion followers as well. With the dramatic increase of brand-conscious fans, it is no doubt the brand sales will increase as well especially on a certain brand worn by the K-pop idols.
If there’s one thing we can’t stand about K-pop fashion, it would be when all the look goes wrong and the style is mismatched. Fashion faux pas and wardrobe malfunction are common among K-pop idols, but they tend to get away with it because their fashion is supposed to be “loud” so that it appeals to the crowd. However, the worry comes when the fans are blinded for their love towards the idols and failed to see what they’re wearing are just just hideous and strange. Some people may say their style is quirky and unique and that element differs them from the other K-pop groups with similar sense of style but in reality, you wouldn’t see these kind of fashion trend went down on street.
So, did K-pop really influence the fashion industry? In our opinion, K-pop did in fact influence the fashion industry in some way because it changed the majority on their perception towards fashion and now the fashion industry has gained much more attention than ever. Whether it’s good and bad, we are looking forward to see more from these K-pop idols on fashion industry and hopefully for the best.