Jane Pipkin explores the phenomenon of K-Pop, and how it has intertwined itself within the fashion world for Lippy.
In recent years, K-Pop has successfully established its global influence as a genre of music renowned for its unique sound, its beautiful aesthetics within both video and performance, and its innovative styling. Various luxury fashion houses have seized the opportunity to cast the most popular K-Pop groups as brand ambassadors, with BTS becoming the face of Louis Vuitton and girl group Itzy representing the iconic British brand Burberry. Such fashion houses are also keen to design one-of-a-kind items for world tours, with Dior’s Kim Jones designing BTS’s stage outfits for their sold out ‘Love Yourself: Speak Yourself’ tour back in 2019. Today, it is K-pop groups who epitomise that glamour, escapism and fantasy which luxury fashion houses have long strived to create.
Fashion plays an integral role in the K-pop world, being used to compliment and amplify each group’s concepts and visuals. One of the most loved girl groups BLACKPINK who embody ‘girl crush’, a cool and edgy concept, are often styled in a dichotomy of trendy e-girl silhouettes and decadent customisations, utilising pieces from Gen Z’s go-to fashion brands such as I.AM.GIA. The girls of BLACKPINK are also often styled in brands such as the LA based For Love & Lemons and Danielle Guizio. In comparison, another of K-Pop’s most loved girl groups TWICE are known for their cute, bubblegum-pop sound, and can always be seen wearing bright colours and more preppy looks, sporting brands like Chanel or Versace.
One of the most notable aspects of K-Pop styling is its cutting-edge taste for androgyny. For decades, Asian streetwear fashion has been used to dismantle traditional ideas of gendered fashion, and K-Pop styling has worked to widen the impact of these trends. This is particularly apparent in Exo’s 2019 video for ‘Obsession’, where member Kai was styled in a mini crop top and leather jacket. Another example is that of girl group Everglow who just this year broke girl group stereotypes with their comeback ‘First’. The styling for this comeback drastically moved away from feminine silhouettes, opting instead for masculine-coded fits to create powerful techwear-inspired, layered looks.
Many of the pieces worn by K-Pop idols in both their music videos and live performances have influenced the success of a number of global fashion trends, but also of many up-and-coming designers. One such example is BTS, whose 2018 ‘Fake Love’ video popularised the leather harness as a fashion accessory, and not to mention the contrast bangs of BLACKPINK’s Jennie Kim which became a fan favourite late last year.
It is not just the performance styling of K-Pop artists which has left a cultural imprint; their ‘airport outfits’ have also been applauded by fans worldwide. By adding luxury accessories to their baggy jeans, graphic t-shirts and oversized shirts, K-Pop idols elevate basic items and make everyday looks feel expensive. Their effortlessly cool arrival outfits have popularised more affordable Korean brands - such as Stylenanda - and have made casualwear look refined.
With such loyal fans who are keen to see, chart and recreate their fav’s most iconic looks, it is not wonder that many female idols such as Blackpink’s Jennie Kim, Red Velvet’s Seulgi and Hyuna have become some of Instagram’s main IT-girls. This level of online popularity is not limited to female K-Pop stars though, as some of the 23-members of SM’s boy group NCT also display their take on Korean street style through their own personal Instagram accounts.
Much of what the K-Pop industry prides itself on is its ability to innovate, create something never seen before.With fresh faces joining the industry every year, it will be fascinating to see how K-Pop will help shape both the out-of-this-world vision of luxury fashion houses and, perhaps more significantly, the ways in which this generation will express itself through fashion itself.
Words by Jane Pipkin