K-pop Stars and Luxury Fashion Are Topping the Charts
The global rise of K-pop is not an accident, it’s a calculated juggernaut. The Korean music industry seems to have hit on the perfect formula to create a global pop phenomenon.
K-pop idols are trained from an early to achieve a hyper polished style of performance, studios act as hit factories, and every detail of their image is carefully crafted. These stars have become the conduit between Korea and the west, creating a cultural exchange of trends in fashion.
K-pop Meets Luxury Fashion
K-pop fashion is a mix of fantasy, Korean street style, and luxury labels. Fashion plays a major role in cultivating the coordinated looks and visuals for any artist or group. The style that originated from the K-pop wave was in part a backlash to restrictive governing and censorship and leaned heavily into the look of 90’s hip hop culture in the U.S. Now with slick production and studio management, it’s evolved into something more sophisticated, and big names in fashion have been taking note. Korean artists are frequently signed as brand ambassadors and models for labels like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Dolce & Gabbana. Some notables include:
- Supergroup BTS (their smash hit “Butter” is an undeniable bop) modeled the runway debut of the Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection this year and are official ambassadors.
- As far back as 2018 K-pop’s Jessica Jung walked the runway in Dolce and Gabbana’s Milan Fashion week show “DNA”, and the brand chose Jennie of Blackpink as the face of their denim collection the same year.
- G-Dragon (lead singer of BIG BANG) has been well known in the world of K-pop for his style and penchant for labels like Yves Saint Laurent and Balmain. He now has his own label, is a Chanel ambassador, and is the first Nike K-pop collaborator.
- Blackpink’s Lisa has a massive social media following (46.7 million on Instagram) and major influence over her huge fan base. She’s known for her unique style statements and is a frequent attendee of fashion shows. Her partnerships include Celine and M.A.C Cosmetics.
- Jennie from Blackpink has been the Chanel ambassador since 2018. Even her two dogs get in on the action. Jennie is so known for her love of Chanel that she’s been nicknamed “Human Chanel” by Korean media.
- COT17 rapper Jackson Wang has long repped Fendi and released a capsule collection with the brand. Wang also launched the second line from his own streetwear label, Cookies, in 2021.
At the epicenter of Korean fashion is the Gangnam province in Seoul. Gangnam first entered our collective consciousness with the infamous “Gangnam Style” video by PSY. Now, however, you’ll find luxury fashion boutiques lined up along this high-end shopping district à la Rodeo Drive. The recent opening of Dolce and Gabbana’s new concept store in Gangnam was attended by some of the biggest names in K-pop, including the artist Hwasa, who D&G tapped to star in their marketing for the opening. Seoul Fashion Week is also becoming the most hotly anticipated fashion week globally, where local designers, major fashion houses, K-pop idols, and street styles collide.
With K-pop crossover artists hitting the Billboard top 100 on the regular since 2009, there is no doubt about its cultural influence in the U.S. These artists have huge fan bases in Korea as well (BTS set a record of 101 billion views in 24 hours for their “Dynamite” release), bringing a brand new market of influencers and consumers to western brands. With the South Korean music industry generating an eye-watering sales revenue of 5.7 billion dollars in 2019, it’s no surprise that the fashion and beauty industries are embracing K-pop and its fandom.