It's the first day of Guest Blogger Week on Oddness/Weirdness and, like last time, I want to start out with a bang. This post is from Moni, writer and owner of the blog Frock Yeah, and it's about something near and dear to my heart: Kpop fashion. Enjoy!
Swag Check, Mic Check: How Fashion Keeps Your Oppas and Unnies at the Top
I’ve heard lots of stories about how people got into k-pop: learning about Korean music through Gangnam Style, flipping through the international TV channels at 4 am, even *cough* someone forwarding a video of Taeyang humping the stage in all white *cough*
Full disclosure: that last one is definitely what happened to me, but it’s not why I jumped feet first into the fandom and stayed.
Actually, it was the styling that got me.
After drooling over Taeyang, I happened to see Girls’ Generation’s video for “Gee”. I’m not usually a fan of music that leans on the cutesier side, but I could not stop watching this music video. The tune was catchy as all hell, and those colored jeans were EV.ERY.THING. If you think back, “Gee” came out right around when high-waisted and colored jeans were really popular. However, not that many people around where I live – myself included – were being that adventurous yet, so it was really exciting to see current trends on real, live people. From SNSD, I went on to see 2NE1 and Big Bang’s “Lollipop”, which has a similar styling point: colors so damn bright, you’ll singe your corneas.
|Oh, 2009 feels! *wipes away tear*|
Anybody who knows me knows I love color, so I was hooked. And as luck would have it, 2NE1 and Big Bang are two groups with a lot of ties to the fashion world. I don’t know what it was like in k-pop before 2009, but I was amazed and totally entertained when I watched 2NE1’s videos and saw them in some of my favorite designers’ clothes, like in “Clap Your Hands”, where they wore Rick Owens, or “I Am the Best,” where they were decked out in Gareth Pugh, and more recently, “Falling in Love”, which featured pieces from Balmain and Mary Katrantzou.
|Truly the best, no? (The answer is yes. Just go with it.)|
So yeah, the clothes are cool and sometimes colorful – but what’s so important about that? I mean, they have to wear something, right? Well… I’d argue that styling can make or break a group.
Take a look at EXO, everybody’s favorite boy band with an overly complicated backstory. They burst on to the scene after releasing approximately 384,390 teasers – just counting the ones that Kai was in. Twelve guys from a planet beyond our solar system, each with individual powers… o…kay? Even if potential fans were ready to fully invest in that strange-ass “X-Men meets Backstreet Boys” concept, SM still needed to solidify EXO as a unit, while maintaining each member’s individuality so that fans would be curious and want to know more about them. How did they do this?
For starters, EXO-K and EXO-M constantly wore clothing with their logo on it – they were establishing their brand (Fast-forward to 2013, and they’ve actually got a brand in Boy Who Cried Wolf). It was ingenious and almost subliminal on some occasions, especially when it came to the jewelry they wore during MAMA promotions.
|Source: The EXO Style|
It’s sort of obvious now that we’re all well-acquainted with the EXO logo, but back when they debuted, I (and many others) just thought it was some random pattern on their clothes. Not only were the boys decked out in all EXO errthang, but they also wore a lot of pieces that had an otherworldly feel to them: lots of holographic prints, ghostly images, and metallic finishes – shiny shit everywhere.
Finally, they had jewelry that described their individual powers, which fits into the whole extraterrestrial myth they created, but also differentiated them from one another at a point when fans might not have even known all their names yet. I didn’t – and I still kinda don’t – know which one is Baekhyun, but you better believe I knew the “dude with the light stuff” in the teasers and videos.
|Source: The EXO Style|
And EXO’s even further individualized when it comes to their airport fashion. There’s the bad boy, the shy one, the young one, the older brother type, and theheartthrob. Okay, not really: Kris is the fashionista, even if he looks like a literal clown sometimes (not even linking to that god-awful outfit. Y’all know what I’m talking about), Suho’s usually pretty understated and wears classic pieces like oxford shoes and button downs (which does kinda fuel his $uho reputation), Xiumin has a skater vibe and often wears beanies, jean shorts and snapbacks, and so on and so forth.
Now EXO’s back with a wolf/schoolboy theme, which I guess is their cover story for being extraterrestrial werewolves or something? I don’t even know, or care. They’ve incorporated a more urban look into their styling, which I think originated with the idea of jerseys being related to school and sports teams, but kinda morphed into a hip-hop influenced wardrobe.
They’re definitely not the only ones who currently dress this way, though. Think CL’s “The Baddest Female” video, and SNSD’s “I Got a Boy” video… everybody knows urban brands equal edgy, tough, and street smart. But I actually think that’s an idea that we have to buy into: would you be convinced of Bangtan Boys’ counterculture standpoint if they came out singing “No More Dream” dressed like Boyfriend or Hello-era SHINee? The message might come through, but I’d definitely be wondering what their real motive was. Styling is absolutely integral to a group’s image, right along with the actual music, and I look forward to seeing how older bands and solo acts reinvent themselves and how new groups will bring different aspects of fashion onto our radar.
About the author:
Moni is a pop culture junkie who voraciously consumes music, movies, fashion and anything else she can get her hands on from around the world. She particularly enjoys cringing through reality TV shows just to see her biases, obsessing over airport fashion photos, and watching two shows at the same time. She writes about music and fashion from around the world at Frock Yeah.
Stay tuned for more of Guest Blogger Week! You can read all posts from the 1st Guest Blogger Week by clicking here and also please let us know what you think below.