Thinking Ahead: Fashion Forward K-Pop Idols and Music Videos
It’s no secret that fashion plays a major role in the Korean music industry. From self expression to suiting the aesthetic, idols take their outfits very seriously. With the growth of K-Pop, the conceptions about the industry are slowly starting to change. However in terms of music videos, most people still believe that a majority of K-Pop videos basically consist of bright pop lights and bubblegum outfits and costumes. However, not only is the music industry diverse, they tend to experiment and explore fashion choices quite a bit. Here are a few groups who have pushed the envelope when it comes to fashion.
As one of the pioneers of the girl crush movement in the Korean music industry, 2NE1 did not conform to stereotypes female idols were restrained to in any way. From music to behavior to outfit choices, 2NE1 managed to stand out and create a brand for themselves. While there are quite a few girl groups that don the girl crush label, 2NE1 was the real deal. As a group their style was bold, crazy, confident and incredibly fierce. From the range of their videos, it was clear that it wasn’t just a concept either; it was 100% genuine to who they were, which allowed them to maintain a style utterly unique to them. Since most of their videos chose to go all out in terms of video concept and fashion, it was really hard to pick one. From bright neons, metallics, acid wash denim, statement jewelry, fun hairstyles, and lots and lots of leather, 2NE1 really have tried it all.
TAEMIN - “Move”
As far as male idols go, TAEMIN has always been pretty fluid with the kind of styles he experiments with. While at the start of his career, his group concept resulted in him leaning more towards a feminine character, in recent years he’s found his true identity expressing his masculine and feminine traits. A lot of this is translated through not just his dances and poise, but also his outfits. His fashion choices in his music videos range from mesh sleeveless tops to fitted pants that outline his figure.
EXO - “Tempo”
Having debuted in 2012, EXO has worked hard and come a long way to where they are today. Through that time, they’ve experimented with various styles of music, concepts, and of course—fashion. While they started out with a typical boy-next-door, uniform-wearing sweet boy concept, they have now become quite bold in their fashion choices for their music videos. “Tempo” in particular is one music video where the boys threw caution to the wind and went all out. With the retro vibe of the music video, the boys dabble between typical ‘80s rocker vibes and modern avant garde. Avant garde in a K-Pop music video? But that’s exactly what this is, and we’re loving every second of it! Two words: Crop.Top.
ITZY - “Dalla Dalla”
In a song that literally focuses on being different, it only makes sense for ITZY to play around with their fashion as well. From the unique rhythm to the overflowing confidence, ITZY is definitely not your regular girl group. That is also further proven by their mish-mash of outfits for the music video of “Dalla Dalla.” From bright puffy jackets to bright army pants to those deadly thigh-high boots—the girls show us just how well trendy with a personal unique flair works.
Special Mention: BTS “IDOL” and VIXX “Shangri La”
We’re loving this recent (but not so recent) trend of Korean idols finding ways to integrate their culture into their music videos. While K-Pop songs are predominantly sung in Korean, with a smattering of English lyrics, music videos tend to follow quite a Westernized aesthetic. However, in recent years, quite a few groups have chosen to show their national pride within their music, examples being BTS and VIXX. The music video for “IDOL” has garnered quite a bit of traction and praise due to its seamless blend of Korean and Western aesthetic, an ode to the Korean group having gained such massive success in the West.
Apart from beats and symbolism throughout, the boys are also seen in traditional Korean garb, the hanbok, at many points in the video too. Another group that managed to weave in aspects of traditionalism is VIXX in the music video for “Shangri La.” Wearing contemporary hanboks and using beautiful hand-painted fans, VIXX not only manage to create an ethereal vibe, they also manage to express the concept of the music video perfectly.