Fashion is a form of self-expression. In K-pop, it’s no secret that it plays a huge role in attracting fans. For every group or solo artist, their charms are showcased through clothes and accessories they wear in music videos, album covers, or performances.
While it started as a form of conceptual styling, K-pop has grown into a global fashion movement that experts and designers are always on the lookout for. Here’s a look at iconic K-pop fashion trends that made a mark on fans.
1. Adventurous hair colors and styles
In K-pop, it’s the hair that brings the look together. Additionally, it also acts as a teaser for fans in an upcoming group or solo comeback. From a full-on, multi-colored hairdo to mohawks, it will always play a huge role in the industry.
Some of our fave hairstyles include IZ*ONE’s Sakura, BTS’ V, Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon, NCT/SuperM’s Taeyong, Big Bang’s TOP, TWICE’s Dahyun, SHINee’s Jonghyun, and f(x)’s Krystal.
2. Color explosion
One of the standouts in K-pop fashion is the use of color as it plays a big role in a group’s concept, comeback single or performance.
Aespa introduced fans to the world of "KWANGYA" with Black Mamba. The intentional use of overwhelming colors is a glimpse into their universe where the members are seeking to find their ae, or avatar counterpart.
Red Velvet’s use of color is done in a sexy and haunting way in Peek-A-Boo. The striking colors add to the group’s horror-inspired take of the well-known children’s game. Who can forget Joy who broke the internet with her rainbow dress?
3. Pretty in pastel
It’s hard to spot a group or solo artist who hasn’t tried out this trend. The use of pastel shades is used in whimsical concepts or for groups with a pure image.
SHINee is one of the few male groups who pulled off the pastel trend like a glove. Their use of pastel colors in Juliette adds a fairytale-like touch to the concept which actually works.
IZ*ONE is the epitome of elegance when they combined pastel shades and power suits in Fiesta. It’s a unique touch to menswear that showcases the group’s feminine image at its best.
4. School, sports, and military uniforms
For some fans, the uniform concept is overdone since many groups have tried it at least once. However, it will always remain a classic staple in K-pop fashion.
In As If It’s Your Last, BLACKPINK showcased hip-hop and an elegant twist to school uniforms. The use of knitted vests, plaid, and knee-high socks are tailored to fit each of the members’ respective charms.
TWICE looked like cheerleaders that you had a crush on with Cheer Up. The members are clad in adorable varsity jackets and sports shorts that play to the song’s wholesome vibe.
No group comes close to Girls’ Generation in rocking a military-inspired uniform. The use of naval uniforms in Genie accentuated the members’ long legs and figures so well. It’s no wonder they’re known as the “pretty leg group” among fans.
5. Tennis skirts
Tennis skirts have always been a staple in K-pop fashion. Girl group f(x) with Rum Pum Pum Pum paved the way to the “tennis skirt trend” in South Korea in 2013.
6. Crop tops for men
EXO's Kai in Obsession is one for the books. He is proof that even men can pull off a crop top. From military-inspired vests to knitwear, he has graced crop tops in every fabric you can think of.
7. Statement sleeves
Solo by BLACKPINK's Jennie feels like an editorial spread since it features many stunning outfits. Our fave: this gray and white dress since it includes an elegant twist to statement sleeves.
8. Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle
Aside from loud colors, K-pop fashion is not complete without an element of sparkle. Many groups have included sequins, glitter, and shiny fabric in their outfits for a glamorous touch.
IZ*ONE showed off their feminine and princess-like visuals in Panorama where they donned sparkly outfits in 12 different ways. Some of the standout outfits feature gemstone patterns in various shapes and sizes.
TWICE in Feel Special is the girl group’s transition into a more mature and elegant image. They took the sparkle trend to a different level by adding shiny hair accessories, jewelry, and shoes to complete the look.
9. Oversized fits
Oversized outfits will always be a part of K-pop fashion’s identity. It’s a source of inspiration for retro-inspired, streetwear, or casual outfits worn by stars onstage and offstage.
BTS proved to be a source of hope for ARMYs in Dynamite. Clad in ‘70s-inspired fits, the boy group showed that wearing oversized clothes can be done in a trendy way.
The teaser image of Resonance, one of NCT’s recent releases, showed the 23 members wearing retro-inspired oversized fits in earth tones. It feels like a fashion magazine since it showed off the members’ ability to wear baggy outfits without looking too frumpy.