Earlier this month, outside Prada’s menswear presentation in Milan, the street thronged with yelling fans, most of whom appeared to have come for Korean pop trio Enhypen, who attended the event. Occasionally, followers began singing along to the boy band’s hits.
These Italian children are studying Korean! Bryan Yambao, editor-in-chief of Perfect magazine, yelled as he got into a car after the performance. A few years ago, such a spectacle would have been unusual because few people staked out to see star arrivals attended most shows.
But as South Korean pop music grows in popularity worldwide and luxury megabrands sign more and more endorsement deals with its most prominent singers, K-pop groups’ ardent youthful fans have established themselves as a fixture.
The trend is still going strong; just this past week alone, visits by Korean celebrities like Kai from EXO at Gucci, Enhypen from Prada, and J-Hope from the band BTS at Louis Vuitton contributed to flooding social media with content from men’s fashion week.
BTS member Jimin, who will attend Dior’s show on Friday, joined the fashion house on Monday, while rapper Suga of the group joined Valentino. (BTS is on the break due to members’ military service.)
According to sources close to the brand and the band, even the renownedly low-key, “stealth wealth” house Bottega Veneta is presently negotiating to sign a menswear contract with a member of BTS.
Additionally, Blackpink members Lisa (a Celine ambassador), Jisoo (at Dior), and Jennie (at Chanel) have attracted ever-larger audiences of fans while producing important internet buzz during recent womenswear seasons.
The rise of K-Pop supergroups has coincided with Korean cultural breakthroughs in other media, such as streaming sensation Squid Game and blockbuster movies like “Parasite” and “Minari.” K-Pop supergroups’ influence crossed Asia in the 2010s before igniting in Europe and the Americas.
Brands have long valued Korean talent because of their fans’ almost fanatical social media involvement, and domestic and international audiences have only increased in recent years. The cultural zeitgeist is currently being dominated by Korean influence, according to Alison Bringé, chief marketing officer at fashion consultancy Launchmetrics.
Korean talents provide the worldwide activation that brands are seeking. According to Launchmetrics, South Korean celebrities have emerged as the most potent celebrity voices for promoting media coverage during fashion week, with social media posts by or about them producing up to 41% of the celebrity and influencer buzz for Milan’s Fall-Winter 2021 womenswear season.
According to projections made by the fashion firm Karla Otto and the marketing consultant Lefty, that percentage may have reached as high as 50% during the most recent Milan Men’s Fashion Week.
The influence of Korean celebrities online rivals that of the most well-known, tech-savvy Western artists:
Jimin, Jeonghan, Taeyang, J-Hope, Hoshi, Rowoon, BM & more K-pop stars are all serving style at Paris Fashion Week, but what's your favorite front-row look? Vote! https://t.co/SXTOpT2BWT
— billboard (@billboard) January 24, 2023
For instance, according to Launchmetrics, a collaboration between Kim Kardashian and Dolce & Gabbana resulted in headlines and internet awareness worth $4.6 million. The reality-TV star and mega-influencer assisted in “curating” and styling the brand’s September 2022 show. Jisoo of Blackpink, primarily merely by showing up, generated $7 million in buzz for Dior’s show in Paris that same season.
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