In recent years, Korean pop music, or “K-pop,” has become both a national and global phenomenon. Their success in the United States specifically began in 2013 with their videos, characterized by eye-catching digital images, bold colors and elaborate choreography. However, the existence of KCON in America, a convention that brings together K-pop acts and enthusiasts, and the re-appearance of popular boybands BTS and EXO on American red carpets prove that the Korean wave isn’t going away anytime soon.
One area of pop culture that K-pop has a large influence over is fashion. The elaborate on-stage outfits worn by the groups performing the songs contribute largely to this. Many international audiences, including America, is beginning to realize the impact of their avant-garde, innovative and gender bending fashion beloved by devoted fans. For this reason, it’s no surprise that more people are inspired to put together looks that emulate their favorite K-pop idols.
K-pop artists place a large emphasis on their public images, through their videos or through red carpet appearances. Some groups that have a large influence over the K-pop fashion world have signature styles that they neatly maintain throughout their long or short-spanning careers. The Brown Eyed Girls, a South Korean girl group that debuted in 2006, have a history of gravitating toward vintage ensembles, while Apink, South Korean girl goup that debuted in 2011, is known for having a cute, pastel-oriented aesthetic.
One group in particular that has made a name for themselves in American tabloids is Beyond The Scene, or BTS. BTS formed in 2013 and quickly gained prominence in the fashion world for their impressive fashion evolution. They began their career drawing outfit inspirations from hip-hop culture and the ’90s grunge scene until finally gravitating towards a more polished look. Both BTS and other male and female K-pop artists frequently experiment with different makeup looks, which contributes to the dialogue that the boundaries of gender and fashion are blurring more as the years go on.
In order to draw inspiration from the K-pop megastars, the willingness to be daring is an absolute requirement. K-pop is all about trendsetting, so the style associated with it must reflect that as well. When thinking about clothes, think about what suits your own personality. If you describe yourself as fierce, then try bold pieces like spiked leather jackets, ripped oversized band tees or snake print leggings. Dramatic beauty is a must, so thick, black eyeliner or vibrant unnatural hair colors are a more permanent way to emulate your favorite BTS member. However, if you are more girly, follow girl group Red Velvet’s lead and play around with various types of silhouettes.
K-pop artists are also known for juxtaposing high-end pieces from Gucci and Balmain with athletic gear to make their look appear effortless. However, if you’re trying to recreate these looks on a budget, these brands may not be accessible. Fortunately, there’s a solution to this which a number of NYU students have already mastered: thrifting. Pair either thrifted designer clothing or pair pieces from well-known affordable brands, like Adidas track pants, with staples like ankle boots, crop tops, a leather jacket and a baseball cap. This creates the effortless dichotomy of classy and casual that makes K-pop fashion so influential.
All in all, K-pop is slowly making its way into our daily lives. They’ve made the evolution from our playlists to our closets, and we could not be more excited about it. Embracing K-pop fashion is embracing experimentation and inclusivity in fashion, which is something NYU students already take immense pride in.
Sherah Ndjongo is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.