Updated: Oct 6
By Rosa Gulliver of TINYGMUSIC | 10th July 2023
Look around you. K-pop idols are influencing everything, from the clothes you wear to the makeup on your face. Forget about taking the world by storm with their music; K-pop stars are now the most sought-after brand ambassadors in the fashion industry. The fashion industry is going wild for K-pop, and we can't get enough of it. With K-pop exploding over the past decade and becoming a commercial music force equal to that of the West, its influence on fashion has also grown significantly. You may not even realise how much these stars influence mainstream fashion and today's beauty trends.
K-pop groups such as BTS, Blackpink, NewJeans, and NCT have emerged as influential players in the fashion industry. They are collaborating with the giants of the luxury industry, fronting advertising campaigns, and launching their own clothing and cosmetics lines. Their power and influence, coupled with their ultra-sophisticated styles, are clearly establishing these K-pop artists as the new fashion icons. Their devoted fans eagerly purchase everything that their favourite idols promote or design.
K-pop stars have become social media sensations and some of the most influential figures in the world. When they post a selfie wearing a new outfit or makeup look, it quickly goes viral and inspires their fans to emulate them. As a result, the item sells out within minutes, all thanks to the viral fandoms. K-pop fashion trends, such as bucket hats, neon makeup, and retro-style clothing, have become popular worldwide. The influence of K-pop idols now spans the globe. They have become a driving force in today's fashion and beauty boom. The era of K-pop dominance is here.
K-Pop Stars: Asia's Biggest Fashion Influencers
Forget about the music. From music stages to catwalks. The fashion industry is crazy about K-pop idols who are eager to wear their brands or endorse their products.
In recent years, K-pop has exploded into an international phenomenon, significantly influencing pop culture and the music industry well beyond the borders of South Korea. Today, K-pop's influence isn't just felt in the music industry; it's also transforming the landscape of luxury. In an effort to promote diversity, an increasing number of fashion and jewellery brands are enlisting Korean celebrities to represent their campaigns. This was a privilege that was typically offered to Hollywood stars just a decade ago.
K-pop stars have become Asia's biggest fashion influencers, frequently appearing in ad campaigns and collaborating with top designers.
The fashion industry was initially slow to embrace the K-pop world, despite its Beatles-level mania. But now, they're wasting no time.
In recent years, K-pop groups such as BTS, BLACKPINK, and Twice have secured significant endorsement deals and collaborated with renowned brands like Dior, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton. These partnerships are groundbreaking, marking the first time that many luxury brands have collaborated with K-pop idols.
K-pop stars are trendsetters, particularly among young people in Asia. Everything they wear, from hairstyles and makeup to clothing, becomes instantly popular. Brands worldwide want to tap into the fashion influence of celebrities and their massive fanbases, who eagerly purchase any products endorsed by their favourite idols.
Collaborations between K-pop stars and fashion brands are highly publicised, creating major hype. Fans went wild in 2019 when BTS became global ambassadors for Fila. It's not only fashion brands that BTS has collaborated with. The group has lured the crème de la crème of the luxury market, securing lucrative deals. The extensive list of BTS' brand collaborations ranges from brands like Hyundai, Samsung, LG, Bodyfriend, Coway, Samsonite, PUMA, Amorepacific, Formula E, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Kloud, Chilsung Cider, Visit Seoul, Disney+, and many others. BLACKPINK has also signed on as brand ambassadors for renowned brands such as Adidas, Burberry, and Chanel.
K-pop stars have become a force in the fashion industry that is here to stay. Their influence and collaborations with major brands are helping to bring K-pop style to the global stage. For brands, partnering with these idols is crucial for accessing new markets and engaging with younger consumers. The fashion world has fully embraced K-pop, and the future looks bright for more brand partnerships and trendsetting styles.
Groundbreaking K-pop Collaborations With Luxury Brands
In 2023, we will see renowned fashion brands such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Calvin Klein unveil new global ambassadors from the most prominent Korean music groups. Here, we spotlight some of the K-pop idols who have recently added a new title to their curriculum vitae.
Jimin from BTS for Dior and Tiffany & Co.
BTS has had a long-standing relationship with the luxury goods conglomerate and fashion giant, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH). Kim Jones, the Creative Director of Dior Homme, designed the unique stage costumes for the group's Love Yourself: Speak Yourself tour in 2019. BTS was named the new face of Louis Vuitton in 2021. After BTS's hiatus was announced in June 2023, BTS member Jimin reunited with Jones and Dior once again, but this time as the global brand ambassador for the label.
Jimin was also chosen as Tiffany & Co.'s new global ambassador for the luxury jeweller on March 2, 2023.
Jimin attended the Dior Men Winter 2023/2024 show at Paris Fashion Week in January 2023 and the "Tiffany Landmark" Grand Opening in April of this year. He was met with a tsunami of adoring fans who filled the areas around the venues, hoping to catch a glimpse of the star.
Lisa from BLACKPINK for Celine and Bvlgari
Taeyang for Givenchy
Taeyang was announced as Givenchy's brand ambassador in January 2023 and is the first Korean male artist to represent the prestigious French fashion house. He subsequently attended Paris Fashion Week.
Danielle from NewJeans for Burberry
NewJeans member Danielle has been revealed as the global ambassador for Burberry. The 17-year-old singer becomes the second Korean woman to represent Burberry, following the renowned actress Jun Ji-Hyun.
Yujin from IVE for Fendi
IU for Gucci
Gucci never released an official statement announcing IU; instead, they referred to her as a "global brand ambassador" in an Instagram picture from the 75th Annual Cannes Film Festival, wearing a Gucci gown with lace rebrodé petal details on the cuffs, as well as sequin flowers and crystal embellishments on the skirt. Cannes on May 29.
Taeyong of NCT for Loewe
A long-time admirer of the brand's innovative style and fine craftsmanship, the NCT member has become the latest global brand ambassador for the Spanish fashion house. Taeyong joins Taylor Russell, Josh O'Connor, and the South Korean girl group NMIXX in representing the label.
Enhypen for Prada
This partnership wasn't a great surprise to Engene's, as the seven members have been wearing pieces from the Italian label for quite some time, and they even attended the AW23 show in Milan earlier this year.
Jeno Lee of NCT Dream for Ferragamo
Jungkook of BTS for Calvin Klein
After months of speculation, the youngest member of the South Korean chart-toppers BTS, Jungkook, has been named as the latest face of Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein Underwear. He follows in his bandmates’ footsteps by becoming a global fashion brand ambassador.
J-Hope of BTS for Louis Vuitton
Prior to J-Hope's military enlistment, Hobi was appointed as the global ambassador for Louis Vuitton. This is not the rapper's first partnership with Louis Vuitton. In 2021, BTS was named a brand ambassador.
Suga of BTS for Valentino and the NBA
Yoongi joined Hollywood star Zendaya, supermodel Naomi Campbell, and seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton as Maison Valentino ambassadors. He recently starred in a new campaign for Maison Valentino Essentials, an initiative that aims to reinvent the men's wardrobe.
Jisoo of BLACKPINK for Dior and Cartier
Jisoo is an influential global ambassador for the Dior fashion house. The South Korean star elegantly brings Dior's modernity and passion to life as a muse for the luxury brand's collection across all genres. She has been a global ambassador for Dior since 2021. In 2022, Jisoo was named Cartier's global brand ambassador, alongside artists such as Annabelle Wallis, Ella Balinska, Chang Chen, Mariacarla Boscono, and more.
Rosé of BLACKPINK for Yves Saint Laurent and Tiffany & Co.#
Jennie of BLACKPINK for Chanel and Calvin Klein
Jennie's first major luxury deal came in 2018, when Chanel Korea appointed her as their brand ambassador. Shortly after, she began representing them on a global scale. In the spring of 2021, Jennie became the face of Calvin Klein.
Kai from EXO for Gucci
Kai is one of the top trendsetters in K-pop. His collaboration with Gucci as its global brand ambassador started in 2019, and the star has also been an influential figure in the brand's 100th anniversary exhibit. He made history as the first-ever Korean artist to have a collection named after him.
Jackson Wang for Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Armani Beauty, and Cartier
Jackson Wang, one of the trendiest and most charismatic idols, holds the prestigious position of global ambassador for several renowned luxury brands, such as Cartier, Fendi, and Armani Beauty. He started 2023 by adding another brand to his ambassadorships, this time as a house ambassador for Louis Vuitton. He solidified his relationship with Fendi China in 2019, and even designed his own collection, which quickly sold out. In 2019, due to his love for jewellery, he was appointed as a global ambassador for Cartier. He has ambassadorships with Giorgio Armani, Adidas, and Ray-Ban.
RM of BTS for Bottega Veneta
Kim Namjoon, also known as RM of BTS, has been selected to represent Bottega Veneta in 2023.
The natural and sophisticated image of Bottega Veneta is perfect for RM, who has a love for nature and art and embraces a calm style.
Taehyung of BTS for Celine
Hyein of NewJeans for Louis Vuitton
Hyein is the youngest member of the girl group NewJeans. In 2022, she was appointed as a brand ambassador for Louis Vuitton, solidifying her status as an emerging fashion icon.
Hanni of NewJeans for Gucci
In late 2022, it was announced that Hanni would become the new face and global brand ambassador for Gucci. Since then, the singer has been spotted at various events and at Milan Fashion Week, wearing Gucci ensembles straight off the runway.
Sana from Twice for Prada
Sana is a stunning model and influencer who has taken the fashion world by storm. As an ambassador for Prada, she has brought a new level of creativity and passion to the brand, showcasing its designs and creations to the world.
Haerin from NewJeans for Dior
In April 2023, Haerin, a member of NewJeans, was appointed as Dior's brand ambassador for jewellery, fashion, and beauty.
These groundbreaking collaborations between K-pop stars and high-fashion brands are paving the way for future partnerships. K-pop idols have emerged as a major force in the fashion industry, thanks to their trendsetting styles, worldwide popularity, and dominance on social media.
Their influence on fashion will only continue to grow.
K-pop and fashion shows
Fashion's love affair with K-pop is intensifying and getting crazier each year.
Gucci hosted Kai from EXO this year. Yves Saint Laurent invited Ten from NCT and Jeonghan from SEVENTEEN. Two of the biggest K-pop stars joined the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) family. BTS's J-Hope attended the Louis Vuitton men's show and accompanied his bandmate Jimin to the Dior show. NCT's Johnny Suh attended the Thom Browne show, along with DK from SEVENTEEN at Bally, NCT's Jeno at Ferragamo, RM from BTS at Bottega Veneta, Rose from BLACKPINK at Saint Laurent, Taeyong from NCT at Loewe, and Jennie from BLACKPINK at Chanel.
There is a difference between the visuals presented in their album and the visuals showcased at fashion shows with brands. Attending Fashion Weeks provides artists with the opportunity to showcase new visuals. Participation in the event itself enhances the artist's value and extends it to the fashion market, resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship for both the artist and the brand. The artist has the opportunity to create high-quality content, while the brand gains access to the artist's image and, more importantly, their vast Gen-Z fan base.
This year, in January, when all seven members of Enhypen participated in the "Prada SS23 Men's Show," they were met with an overwhelming number of excited fans who filled the streets surrounding the Fondazione, causing a frenzy of screams and cheers. Pretty much the same thing happened to NCT's Jeno during his trip to Milan for the Ferragamo show in February. This unprecedented viral fandom explains why brands are eager to secure K-pop stars for front-row exclusives and, more and more, long-term contracts. This was evident when Dior signed Jimin as a global brand ambassador in January.
K-Pop Fashion Lines: When Idols Become Designers
K-pop idols are transforming from muses to creators, demonstrating their talent for not only wearing fashion but also creating it. With their inherent fame and influence, idols-turned-designers are positioned to influence fashion trends across Asia and beyond. The rise of idol-led fashion brands signals an exciting new chapter in K-pop's influence on style and pop culture worldwide.
Here are some fashion brands owned by idols that you might want to try.
G-Dragon's - Peaceminusone
G-dragon, the K-pop megastar, founded the streetwear label Peaceminusone in 2016. The brand is an extension of G-Dragon's edgy and eclectic personal style. Collections feature bold prints, ironic slogans, and reworked vintage pieces. G-Dragon's fame and status as a fashion icon have propelled the brand to success, with pop-up shops in Seoul and Tokyo drawing huge crowds.
Jackson Wang's "Team Wang"
Got7's Jackson Wang launched Team Wang, a unisex streetwear brand, in 2020. The brand's designs incorporate Wang's love of vibrant colours, ‘90s hip-hop style, and Chinese cultural elements. Team Wang's popularity in China has led to a collaboration with the sportswear giant, Adidas. The limited-edition collection sold out instantly, demonstrating Wang's power and influence as a fashion trendsetter in Asia.
Baekhyun's - Privé
In May 2018, EXO's Baekhyun announced his collaboration with Privé Alliance to launch his own clothing line, Privé by BBH. Currently, he is working as a co-director for the brand. Privé by BBH is a unisex streetwear brand, and Baekhyun has taken an active role in the design process, infusing his stylish and laidback sensibilities into the brand's offerings. Privé has built a loyal customer base, largely due to Baekhyun's popularity and strong social media following. His success as both an idol and a fashion entrepreneur demonstrates the influence of K-pop stars in setting trends and promoting merchandise.
T-ara Hyomin - Say No More
In September 2021, Hyomin launched her clothing brand called "Say No More." The brand opened its first pop-up store in Seoul in March 2022 and offers outfits with a simple and classic daily look vibes.
Girls Generation Jessica Jung - Blanc & Eclare
In August 2014, she established a fashion brand called Blanc & Eclare. The brand produces a wide range of products including eyewear, denim, clothing, skincare, and accessories.
Kard's BM - STAYDIUM
The trendy fashion is inspired by American streetwear. Clothing is essentially colourful with creative designs.
SUPER JUNIOR'S Donghae - TEMPUS STUDIO
Super Junior is one of the most popular boy groups in the K-pop industry. In 2018, Donghae Lee, a member, decided to open his own fashion store. He established an online store for his fashion brand called "Tempus Studio." The brand is known for its streetwear Korean fashion style.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Ambassador
Even the largest luxury brands can elevate their game to another level with the right choice of ambassadors. Finding the perfect match is key. The idol's image, personality, talent, and influence all play a role in determining whether the collaboration will be impactful.
We might believe that there are brands that have "already made it" and do not need any further upgrades or changes to their strategy or image. We might also think that these brands are already well positioned. However, this belief could not be further from the truth. All brands need to move forward, refresh, and improve.
That was the case with the luxury fashion brand Dior and their newly appointed K-pop idol, Park Jimin.
Within a week of the announcement, Dior became the biggest winner in the market. It was evident both socially and financially.
Popularity and Influence
On social media, Dior's announcement posts became the most liked in the history of the brand's Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Financially It Was A No Brainer
After Jimin was named Dior's new global brand ambassador, Dior's stock hit an all-time high.
The brand has been listed on the stock market since 1992 and saw its stock price rise to €775.50 on the day of the announcement (January 16). It reached €789.00 by January 18, marking its highest record in 31 years.
Style and Image
Jimin is known for his impeccable fashion sense. The idol's personal style and image align well with the brand's aesthetic and values. Dior's partnership with Jimin is a perfect example, as his charming yet sophisticated image complements Dior's elegant brand identity.
As Dior expands its presence in South Korea, the brand is capitalising on the country's high spending on personal luxury goods. According to Reuters and Morgan Stanley, South Korea has the highest spending on luxury fashion items, with an average of $325 per person per year. Making strategic alliances is not only about entering the country's market, but also expanding its reach. And that leads us to the final point: ambassadors. Dior ultimately wanted the "King of K-pop" as their global ambassador for maximum impact. They achieved their goal and wherever Jimin is, you can guarantee there is media interest. Perfect for the brands he represents.
According to fashion executives, K-pop partnerships, including singers, actors, and idols, are seen as good investments in the industry because of their significant influence over their audience. They see purchasing the products as a means of promoting or expressing their love. This, of course, is the position every brand wants to be in.
So when we reflect back to Friday, January 20, 2023, around the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The excitement was palpable in the air from early that morning. Thousands of fans had gathered around the Dior building, which was hosting its Fall/Winter 2023/2024 Men’s Collection. A prestigious list of personalities was invited, but it was the presence of a most distinguished guest that drew crowds like never before. It was Park Jimin from BTS.
The South Korean Superstar, who was confirmed as the new global brand ambassador earlier that week, was taking his first steps in his new appointed role.
The crowd was euphoric when he arrived and welcomed him by chanting his name, cheering, and shouting. This is something that has never been seen at a Fashion Week before. An all-time sensational spectacle. The highlight of the show was Jimin’s arrival and the expression on his face when he saw the size of the crowd waiting for him! The largest crowd in 77 years. Jimin’s impact is insane. With such a welcome Dior House was wise to move quickly and secure the right ambassador, Korea’s “IT Boy.”
And, oh, if you are wondering, Paris was not a one off. The Grand Opening of "Tiffany Landmark" in April of this year had a scenario that was pretty much the same as Paris. Crowds lined the streets from 5th Avenue and snaked all the way to Central Park. His power is incredible.
So, that's how K-pop idols went from music sensations to bona fide fashion forces. Their devoted fans can't get enough of their trendsetting styles, and brands have taken notice in a significant way. Collaborations with luxury labels and streetwear brands alike have propelled K-pop stars to the forefront of the fashion industry. The next time you wear a slogan tee, carry the latest "it bag," or experiment with a bold new makeup look, you might owe thanks to your favourite K-pop idol. Their innovative and individualistic sense of style will undoubtedly continue to shape trends for years to come. K-pop and fashion, it's a match made in style heaven. Keep slaying, idols!
It all comes down to engagement.