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Fashion That Defines K-pop & How It Is Changing The Fashion Industry

By Rosa Gulliver of TINYGMUSIC| 8th August 2023


K-POP GIRL GROUP LE SERRAFIM

K-pop and K-beauty have already won our hearts, but let's explore how K-fashion is revolutionising the fashion world.


K-pop is beyond successful. It is a culture defined by its ability to blend music and dance genres, drawing inspiration from various aesthetics. Now their idols are reshaping the global fashion industry. South Korea has emerged as a trendsetter in the Asian fashion industry, captivating fashion enthusiasts worldwide with its distinctive style and innovative designs.


BTS, BLACKPINK, NewJeans, and Tomorrow X Together are just a few K-pop groups that have taken the world by storm. BTS has over 73 million followers on Instagram, and their global success is undeniable. BLACKPINK headlined this year’s British Summer Time Hyde Park in the UK. NewJeans hit single “OMG” had over 40 million streams during its first week after being released, and TXT headlined Lollapalooza this weekend. With their impact on the music industry, they have also influenced fashion in numerous ways.


TXT the first South Korean group to headline Lollapalooza
TXT the first South Korean group to headline Lollapalooza - Photo Credit: Twitter

Whether they’re on stage or the red carpet, K-pop fashion stars are known for blending luxury with streetwear and drawing inspiration from various decades. K-pop has the ability to unite all aspects of music, art, and dance under one roof while showcasing some of the best-dressed stars on the world stage.


K-pop and Its Influence on Fashion


Of course, it’s trendy because big groups like BTS and BLACKPINK have made a significant impact both musically and in the fashion world. Furthermore, several members from both groups have secured contracts with prestigious luxury brands, such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Celine, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent, and Chanel. K-pop fashion has a unique ability to blend streetwear and luxury styles, creating everyday looks that transcend boundaries and invite everyone to partake in the excitement.


So, What Is K-Pop Fashion?


Something that sets K-pop stars apart is their ability to consistently create visually appealing content. Their music videos are always flashy, and their dance moves are eye-catching and creative. They continue to push boundaries in the music and entertainment industries. Furthermore, K-pop fashion is always on point. It is all about attention to detail. Artists and their stylists pay close attention to every aspect of the outfit, from the fit of their clothes to the accessories they choose. They understand that even the smallest details can have a big impact on their overall appearance. The best part is that no K-pop group dresses alike. Each artist brings something new and exciting to the table, resulting in an intriguing experience for all the fans to look forward to.


Their evident expertise in streetwear fashion has captured the attention of millions of individuals worldwide, particularly in Western countries. As K-pop continues to make a name for itself in the West, it has also brought along its distinctive sense of style. So, in our era dominated by social media, South Korea has emerged as a top fashion destination.


Stray Kids at Lollapalooza Paris
Stray Kids at Lollapalooza Paris - Photo Credit : Twitter

Their unique style and fashion sense have inspired fans to emulate their looks. We already know that these international music sensations not only captivate audiences with their electrifying performances and mesmerising music videos, but they also serve as trailblazers in the fashion industry. From their fearless experimentation to their meticulous attention to detail, K-pop idols have the power to rescue you from a fashion rut and inject a burst of creativity into your personal style.


The third-generation K-pop idols ignited a frenzy when their music started to dominate the international charts, earning global recognition. It was the perfect mix, as these groups showcased a new sense of fashion in their music videos along with an unapologetic exploration of their style.


K-pop idols and their unique style and fashion sense have inspired fans to dress like them. When a K-pop idol, like Jeon Jungkook from BTS, wears something, people quickly associate it with the style of K-fashion, regardless of the label. As a result, the item sells out worldwide within minutes. That’s the power that some of these Korean artists possess. They have the ability to absorb global influences, redefine them, and create an image that positions South Korea as a fashionable and trendy destination in the eyes of the world.


Some say Korean fashion has a “bubblegum aesthetic,” but upon closer examination, there is actually a lot more diversity in the styles embraced by idols, each with their own unique flair. They are not afraid to experiment and take risks. Their outfits make powerful statements, exuding confidence, and commanding attention wherever they go. Korea is easily the most fashionable country in Asia, known for its quirky and notable trends.


Why Is It So Trendy?


K-pop fashion is a style inspired by numerous Korean pop groups and the K-pop industry as a whole. It has a knack for incorporating global fashion trends and is known for its boldness, but with a distinctive flair. Think of two-piece sets, bold colours, unconventional silhouettes, eye-catching patterns, preppy sweater vests, oversized tops, and gender-neutral styling. You will see both music groups, men and women, dressed in similar clothing and styles.


So, let’s embark on a journey through the vibrant world of K-pop fashion and explore how these idols have inspired fans worldwide.


The Resurgence of Y2K


NewJeans Rookie K-pop Girl Group
NewJeans - Photo Credit: Facebook

It's fascinating to see how fashion trends often come back into popularity, and it appears that the Y2K trend is currently experiencing a resurgence. This trend is characterised by bold colours, flashy accessories, and a mix of grunge and glam styles, everything that was popular in the early 2000s.


With its resurgence, we are witnessing a fusion of traditional and contemporary elements. For example, wearing comfortable and casual clothing pieces, such as baggy pants and oversized t-shirts, in bold colours and flashy accessories that were trendy two decades ago. The trend is being embraced by Gen Zs, who are putting their own spin on it by mixing and matching different pieces to create unique and personalised looks.


Baggy Pants


J-Hope of BTS j-hope can pull anything off and makes it look effortless. especially how he makes baggy,  'sloppy' style clothes still look styled and perfect
J-Hope of BTS j-hope can pull anything off and makes it look effortless. especially how he makes baggy, 'sloppy' style clothes still look styled and perfect - Photo Credit: Twitter

Baggy pants have become a trend, but K-pop has taken them to a whole new level. Underrated, yet undeniably stylish. From baggy cargo pants to wide-legged trousers and classic loose-fitting denim, both male and female performers can be seen wearing these comfortable bottoms. If you don’t have a pair of oversized bottoms, they are a fashion gem worth exploring. Consider buying a pair that fits snugly around your waist to enhance your figure. While oversized t-shirts and shirts often steal the spotlight, these voluminous bottoms offer a unique and comfortable fashion choice. J-Hope, a member of BTS known for his impeccable style, embraces oversized bottoms to elevate his fashion look while staying cool and comfortable.


Denim-on-Denim Look


Namjoon of BTS, denim-on-denim look
Namjoon of BTS, denim-on-denim look - Photo Credit - Twitter

The iconic denim-on-denim style unlocks endless outfit possibilities. Namjoon of BTS rocks this look like a K-pop idol. Mix and match various shades and washes of denim to create a layered effect. Experiment with textures by pairing distressed denim with sleek pieces. Complete the look with your choice of footwear, whether it’s Converse sneakers for a casual vibe or chunky boots for a bold statement.


The Corset


JISOO FROM BLACKPINK WEARING THE ICONIC PIECE, THE CORSET
Jisoo of BLACKPINK - Photo Credit: Vogue

If you’re looking for a sexy look, then Jisoo from BLACKPINK hits the right note. She effortlessly showcases the corset trend, emphasising that it’s all about feeling stylish, confident, and having fun with fashion rather than compromising on comfort. Embrace the versatility of corsets by layering them with shirts or wearing them as standalone statement pieces with high-waisted bottoms.


Ni-Ki from ENHPEN wearing a corset.
Ni-Ki from ENHYPEN - Photo Credit: Twitter

Ni-Ki from Enhypen wore a corset garter top underneath a cropped jacket for the group’s “Bite Me” comeback promotion.


It’s a gender-neutral, unisex piece that complements his masculine yet soft features.


Bucket Hats


Jimin of BTS wearing a bucket hat.
Jimin of BTS wearing a bucket hat - Photo Credit: Twitter

For the ultimate bucket hat inspiration, you need to look no further than Jimin from BTS. Known for his impeccable fashion sense, Jimin effortlessly adds a touch of flair to any outfit with his trendy headwear. To emulate his iconic look, draw inspiration from his fashion choices and add the bucket hat to your personal wardrobe. Pair it with casual streetwear, such as oversized t-shirts, distressed jeans, and sneakers, for a relaxed and fashionable outfit.


Crop Top Fashion


Taemin from SHINee wearing a crop top
Taemin from SHINee - Photo Credit: Twitter

SHINee's Taemin embraces the blend of comfort and style by defying gender norms and combining crop tops. Wearing a suit-style outfit, the singer paired it with a white cropped long-sleeve top and a black skirt with built-in trousers. Taemin is not only a K-pop legend but also a fashion icon who consistently challenges gender norms!


Pleated Mini Skirt


STAYC wearing the famous pleated skirt
STAYC wearing the famous pleated skirt - Photo Credit: Twitter

While this fashion trend may have started years ago, thanks to female K-pop groups, the pleated mini skirt has become a stylish wardrobe must-have. Here you can see STAYC incorporate pleated skirts with the denim-on-denim trend and the ever-popular leather look. STAYC girls show that there are many attractive ways to wear a pleated skirt without appearing too much like a complete schoolgirl.


Oversized Sweaters And Shirts


BTS wearing oversized sweaters and shirts - K-fashion
BTS - Photo Credit: BigHit Music

Oversized shirts, sweaters, and outerwear are currently a popular trend. One reason why it has become more widespread is how K-pop fashion adds its own unique twist. For example, the boys of BTS wear many oversized varsity sweaters alongside boxy tees, or distressed and cut-out designs. Plus, wearing oversized clothing is not only comfortable but also chic. It is a gender-neutral style that is inclusive of everyone.


Chunky Sneakers


K-POP GIRL GROUP (G)I-DLE
(G)I-DLE - Photo Credit: Twitter

Chunky sneakers are a popular fashion trend, both inside and outside of the K-pop world as can be seen here with (G)I-DLE. They are comfortable, add height, and are, apparently, easy to dance in.


Luxury Designer Accessories


As numerous K-pop stars are the faces of many high-end luxury brands, it only makes sense that these brands are often incorporated into their outfits.


Rose of BLACKPINK wearing YSL handbag
Rose of BLACKPINK wearing YSL handbag - Photo Credit: Dispatch

We’re not all world-famous music artists, but there are ways to add a hint of luxury to your everyday outfits.


BTS MEMBERS ACCESSORISING WITH HATS
BTS MEMBERS ACCESSORISING WITH HATS - PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM

From hats, wallets, handbags, sunglasses, and even keychains, all can be a little designer treat to your wardrobe. Luxury brands are pricey, so picking an item that you know you’ll use often could be worth the hefty price tag.


BLACKPINK puts the “luxe” in luxury as they adorn themselves with glamorous jewellery and over-the-top accessories.


Jisoo from BLACKPINK ambassador for French luxury jewellery brand, Cartier
Jisoo from BLACKPINK ambassador for French luxury jewellery brand, Cartier - Photo Credit: Twitter.

Gender Fluid Fashion


BTS has played a very influential role in the Korean fashion industry. Their tendency to wear gender-fluid outfits has caused all fashion lovers to look in their direction.


Jimin of BTS wore a Chanel embroidered glittered tweed jacket
Jimin of BTS wore a Chanel embroidered glittered tweed jacket - Photo Credit: Twitter

On and off the stage, they normalised fashion fluidity between masculinity and femininity. They have consistently worn chokers, earrings, and very loose-fitting silhouettes. Perhaps Western cultures rave about BTS’s gender-fluid fashion aesthetic because it is extremely fashion-forward compared to artists in the West. Beyond performers like Harry Styles, gender fluidity isn’t embraced in Western culture as much as it is in South Korea. Harry Styles is breaking through the barriers of what is still considered taboo to many.


Harry Styles at the 2021 Met Gala
Harry Styles at the 2021 Met Gala - Photo Credit: Twitter

When K-pop idols wear what they want, such as male idols wearing chokers and makeup and female idols wearing dress suits, it creates a huge impact on our expectations of where fashion should be heading. With BTS, it allowed each member to develop a style unique to them while still successfully expressing confidence and creativity.


K-pop has certainly marked its place as a fashion icon in Western culture. Their unparalleled ability to boost sales, establish new trends, and push the boundaries of fashion can broaden the industry's horizons regarding the future direction of fashion.


K-pop fashion is a celebration of self-expression, individuality, and breaking free from traditional fashion norms. The world is your runway, so why not embrace the bold and unique fashion of K-pop icons and incorporate some of their fearless styles into your own wardrobe? Have you been influenced by K-fashion?


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