The Irresistible Power of K-Pop and Its Influence on Fashion
Luxury houses continue to bet on K-pop, enlisting 4th gen groups as ambassadors.
Last week, Gucci announced that Hanni of NewJeans — one of K-pop‘s most exciting rookies put together by industry veteran Min Hee-jin (she’s the name behind some of South Korea‘s most iconic names, such as Girls’ Generation, f(x) and SHINee) — would join its roster of brand ambassadors ahead of its now-canceled “Cosmogonie” show in Seoul. The news shortly followed with Dior appearing to follow the quintet on Twitter as pointed out by their fans Bunnies, sparking rumors of another brand partnership with the rising music act.
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Ever since the global rise of K-pop — take BLACKPINK and BTS for example — it’s no surprise that luxury brands are looking to these groups for endorsement. Prior to Hanni, Gucci had already signed with musician IU and Squid Game star Lee Jung-jae, while Dior is famously known for its deal with BLACKPINK’s Jisoo. The list goes on: Jennie x Chanel, Rosé x Saint Laurent, Lisa x CELINE, BTS x Louis Vuitton… And the reach has gone beyond K-pop thanks to the global popularity of K-dramas and Korean movies, as well as sports as seen from soccer player Son Heung-min, aka Sonny, who has landed partnerships with Burberry and Calvin Klein.
K-pop is becoming an integral part of brands’ successful marketing formulas. With cases like Dior (Jisoo brought in the highest earned media value and engagement rate for the house this past Paris Fashion Week), brands are betting on the industry’s 4th gen rookie acts, making sure they jump on the buzz before their competitors do. In September, Loewe tapped NMIXX as its brand ambassador, just seven months into the septet’s debut. This is all part of fashion houses’ schemes to birth the equivalent to what Chanel and Dior have done, by making Jennie the “human Chanel” and Jisoo the “human Dior.”
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The general public outside of South Korea may not be the most familiar with these 4th gen K-pop groups, but with such a large, cult following, these rising stars bring brands the engagement they need. In recent seasons, Miu Miu has continued to partner with IVE’s Jang Won-young, another K-pop artist following in the footsteps of her senior, Girls’ Generation member Yoona Lim.
It’s come to a point where if you’re a major luxury fashion brand, you most likely will have a Korean artist present at your fashion show. aespa, SM Entertainment‘s virtual hybrid group, was one of many K-pop stars that were at PFW this fall, attending Matthew M. Williams‘ Givenchy presentation.
“Consumers worldwide are taking more interest in K-content featuring K-fashion, thanks to K-pop. The strategy behind naming a K-pop star a global brand ambassador isn’t as simple as it looks — it’s about building the value and image of a brand. This is especially applicable to the Millennial and Gen Z demographic as they gain more purchasing power,” says Lim Ji Yeon from the Samsung Fashion Research Institute. An article published by JoongAng Daily also points out that brands are scrambling to discover the “next big” K-pop group as the overall cycle of of these artists are getting shorter and shorter.
So, it completely makes sense that Gucci would enlist Hanni of NewJeans its brand ambassador. It’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the remaining artists in the group — Minji, Haerin, Danielle and Hyein — sign with some of today’s hottest fashion brands. So far, we’ve seen them attending events for brands like Chanel and Diesel, which could hint at their upcoming partnerships.