Fashion Week Has a Crush on K-Pop
When ENHYPEN emerged on the palazzo steps of Fondazione Prada in Milan, they were greeted with thousands of Italian fans so frenzied to see the K-pop idols that the Prada presentation was momentarily eclipsed, turning it into an unofficial fan meet. “I was aware that we had fans in Europe, but didn’t expect to see such a big crowd,” Sunghoon tells InStyle. “I was surprised by the turn out, and felt grateful and touched by their love and support.”
And that was just the beginning.
As Fashion Month unfolded, the K-pop artists kept coming. Members from SEVENTEEN, BTS, Blackpink, EXO, NCT, BIGBANG, and more charmed designers, trended on Twitter, and nabbed those coveted front-row seats across multiple time zones.
This year’s Fashion Weeks have made one thing clear: Luxury fashion houses are entering their K-pop era.
The link between luxury fashion and K-pop is unmistakable. Both are in the aesthetic business, using visual arts to tell stories and create brand mythos. Fashion and K-pop are industries where extravagance, opulence, and beauty for the sake of beauty are embraced. The idols themselves are the perfect partners for fashion houses: their boundary-pushing aesthetics mean they’re willing risk-takers, making them appealing collaborators for luxury brands always trying to spark the next major trend or capture the next viral moment.
K-pop is now an international habit, not just a Korean trend. Worldwide fans are emulating their favorite members, including creating buying frenzies that sell out items worn by idols in the hours or sometimes minutes after the images appear on social media. “There are not that many people in the world who can impact a brand that much,” Ukrainian milliner Ruslan Baginskiy tells InStyle after BTS’s Kim Taehyung wore one of his hats and instantly depleted the global stock of the piece. Brands who aspire to develop and deepen their own worldwide fan clubs are smart to partner with idols who have already done just that (as demonstrated by ENHYPEN’s Italian fans causing an unexpectedly passionate furor at Milan Fashion Week).
And the love goes both ways. Inspiration ricochets back and forth between K-pop artists and designers. Labels are name-dropped in verses and designers create tour costumes for idols. The shared synergy has built a bridge between the fashion and K-pop worlds, leading to a recent unprecedented surge in idols being tapped as brand ambassadors.
Kings of 2023’s Fashion Week: SEVENTEEN
No K-pop group made a bigger impact on Fashion Week this year than SEVENTEEN. The full-time idols, part-time social butterflies nabbed those all-important front-row seats at four different fashion houses’ runways.
“Since it was my first Fashion Week experience ever, the trip itself will be a memory I will cherish forever,” Hoshi, who attended AMI’s runway presentation, tells InStyle. “I’m very much interested in fashion, so it was an honor to be invited and I had so much fun.” Not only was it the global superstar’s first Fashion Week, it was also his first time in the City of Light making the experience extra darling. “It was also my first time in Paris, and I felt that Fashion Week added to the allure of the city itself. Visuals play a key part in what I do, I hope that I will also be able to translate this experience into music and performances that we present.”
Hoshi isn’t alone in taking away a souvenir of inspiration from his Fashion Week visit. Fellow SEVENTEEN member Joshua attended Marni’s special Tokyo presentation, also receiving a dose of artistic motivation for his efforts. “I think it will definitely inspire my work,” the singer tells InStyle, after surveying the saturated color palette and bespoke tailoring of Marni’s runway presentation. “I felt like the overall production and style spoke to me. The music started changing with the color of the clothing, from the mood starting a little bright to the mood getting darker. It was evident that a lot of thought and so many intricate details were put into this whole production.”
The experience of attending Fashion Week was particularly impactful for Mingyu, who sat alongside Joshua at Marni’s front row. “Fashion is always a source of inspiration for me,” explained Mingyu, who solidified his “fashion icon” status years ago after walking as a model in Seoul’s Fashion Week. “Being able to immerse myself in fashion through fashion shows, in particular, is even more intuitive of an inspiration. The stage production, the music, the colors and all the looks were a new drive and thrill to me. If opportunities arise down the road, I would love to continue on with these experiences.”
Meanwhile in Paris, Jeonghan fell in love with every sublime and sexy look that walked down the Saint Laurent runway. When asked if he had a favorite look (or a look his fans, Carats, would love to see him in), he cited “the entire collection”.
“The collection as a whole was so amazing that I couldn’t decide on a favorite look,” the superstar tells InStyle. “Each and every piece felt like a work of art, and they had this ethereal, graceful quality to them which I was in awe of. I admire how YSL brings to life such tall, lean looks in a way that transcends the idea of what is considered ‘trendy’. I think I’ll be drawn to looks from the collection for another while.”
Finally, DK popped up in Milan this weekend at Bally’s ready to wear collection. The runway presentation was held in the Casa degli Atellani, once Leonardo Da Vinci’s home during the years he spent painting “The Last Supper.” Like Hoshi, the BSS subunit member traded his “Fighting“
tracksuit for couture for his fashion week appearance.
BTS’s Chapter 2: Fashion Ambassadorships Yet to Come
Members from global superstar group BTS also made cameos at Fashion Week. No strangers to fashion icon status themselves, the 7-member group was anointed global ambassadors for Louis Vuitton in 2021. Now, with their “Chapter 2” agenda allowing for more individualized, solo ventures, members SUGA, Jimin, and j-hope have landed their own, independent fashion house ambassadorships with Valentino, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, respectively. .
Dior, who has been stanning BTS for years now having designed stagewear for the band’s 2019 ‘Love Yourself: Speak Yourself’ world tour, gushed about the partnership with the ethereal, multi-talented Park Jimin. “This special bond seals, more than ever, [Jimin’s] friendship with the house and [the Artistic Director for Dior Men] Kim Jones,” a statement read from a press release. “The South Korean artist now embodies the spirit and singularity of Dior style.”
Jimin, who’s recently announced a solo album Face drops next month, took to Instagram to declare he’s “so thrilled to start a journey with @Dior!”
Valentino found its muse in SUGA, who recently casually announced a world tour under his solo persona Agust D. Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli cited the rapper and producer as a source of inspiration explaining, “[He’s] a multifaceted artist; he is an interpreter and uses his talent and his work to express himself with energy and authenticity. He perfectly embodies everything that DI.VA.s [an acronym that stands for ‘Different Values’] testimonials stand for: diversity, inclusivity, creativity, and passion.”
SUGA responded to the designer’s love with his signature candor, “All individuals have different dreams and values … [Valentino and Piccoli] have been supportive of diversity, which is something that I also believe in.”
j-hope is the sartorial chameleon of BTS, bouncing from KAWS-infused hypebeast streetwear to sleekly tailored suiting to the soft-emo aesthetic of his solo album, Jack In the Box. He does it all, making him an enviable ambassador for whichever house is lucky enough to sign him. Last week, Louis Vuitton won and signed the rapper as a house ambassador. “He is beloved by fans across the world for his upbeat energy, precise choreography and creative musical direction,” the brand said in a statement. “With a positive on-and-off-stage presence, j-hope continues to push artistic boundaries and inspire international audiences.”
With three idols claimed and four left, Bangtan’s ARMY fans are wondering which member is next to secure a luxury brand appointment. To make the wait more fun, ARMY has been batting around couture house names on Twitter and in group chats like kittens batting around toy mice. Fans are hoping Kim Namjoon, stage name RM, blesses Bottega Veneta with his broad shoulders. The BTS leader wore several Bottega Veneta looks while promoting his solo album, Indigo, and the brand itself recently added a dose of validity to the rumored partnership thanks to some recent, high-profile Instagram follows: Matthieu Blazy, Bottega Veneta’s creative director and Dario Gargiulo, the chief marketing and digital business officer, both followed the rapper recently. And with RM sitting front row at Bottega Veneta’s Milan presentation this weekend, an official brand ambassadorship announcement seems all but inevitable.
Currently serving in the South Korean military isn’t stopping rumors of eldest member Kim Seokjin signing with Cartier when he returns to civilian life. Kim Taehyung (stage name V) seems like he’s been training his whole life in preparation for a Celine ambassadorship, often dressing head-to-toe in the brand offstage and attending last year’s Paris Fashion Week show along with actor Park Bo-gum and Blackpink’s Lisa.
There’s also the unsubstantiated rumor of the youngest BTS member, Jeon Jungkook, negotiating with either Versace (the brand he wore while performing at the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s opening ceremony) or Calvin Klein (which would certainly be a monkey paw scenario for ARMY — they’re wishing for something that could very well destroy them).
Go Big or Go Home: ENHYPEN Takes on Prada
So, what’s it like to attend Fashion Week as an idol? “Amazing,” according to Heeseung, one of the seven members of the ultra-talented ENHYPEN. “It was amazing to witness the beauty of the city of Milan, and I can’t forget the first impression I had. Including the architecture, I was immediately taken aback by how aesthetically pleasing the entire city is.”
Ni-Ki, the youngest member of the group, echoed that awe-inspired sentiment. “I just felt like I was inside a movie,” he tells InStyle. “I really enjoyed the sense of peace in Milan. The architecture was incredible.”
The K-Pop rookies who debuted in 2020 are used to causing a commotion whenever they go, but their fans (nicknamed ENGENE, a play on “engine” since they fuel ENHYPEN’s passionate performances), surprised everyone when they turned up by the thousands in Italy just to catch a glimpse of their favorite artists before Prada’s show. “I, like the other members, was so surprised by the number of ENGENEs who came out to see us,” Sunoo tells InStyle. “We haven’t had the opportunity to meet many international ENGENEs in person yet and just starting to do so through our tour, so I felt so supported seeing the crowd at the show. We promise to work even harder to deliver positive energy to our ENGENEs moving forward.”
The invitation from Prada and meeting the legendary designers Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons was a particular honor for Jay, who has often cited the fashion world as a major source of his creative passion. “They are two individuals in the fashion industry whom I have always admired, so meeting them in the flesh was a true honor,” Jay tells InStyle. Indeed, The Idol became The Fan when meeting the two icons. “Interacting and taking pictures with them is an unforgettable memory that will stick with me for a while.”
“It was such an honor to meet [Miuccia and Raf] in person,” Jake agreed. “I was thrilled to attend the show and would love to be invited again in the future,” the idol said (getting our hopes up for more future perfect partnerships with Prada).
Much like SEVENTEEN’s Hoshi, Mingyu, and Joshua, the members of ENHYPEN soaked up as much inspiration as they could on their whirlwind visit to Prada. “Just being in Milan itself for Fashion Week was fantastic,” Jungwon tells InStyle. The leader of ENHYPEN found his muse in every moment, every detail of his trip — down to the very streets he walked on. “I was impressed by how stylish and well-dressed the people there were. I could also take photos on the cobblestone streets and they would turn out just like the ones taken for our official photoshoots.”
As ENHYPEN returned to South Korea with Fashion Week in their rearview, inspiration stoked in their hearts, and a renewed love of their devoted fans, it’s clear that they had been a part of one of the buzziest runway seasons yet. There’s one unmistakeable conclusion to draw: Fashion Week may be over, but fashion’s K-pop crush is just getting started.
j-hope of BTS at Hermès’s Fall/Winter Men’s Collection in Paris
The “Jack in the Box” singer and dance leader of BTS brought his signature sunshine to Paris Fashion Week when he attended Hermès’s fall menswear collection wearing a covetable shearling jacket straight from the runway.
j-hope of BTS at Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter Men’s Collection in Paris
Having served as a global ambassador for Louis Vuitton (alongside his BTS bandmates) in 2021, Jung Hoseok blessed the brand with his presence for its Paris Fashion Week presentation. Days later, the luxury brand proudly announced the rapper will be rejoining the LV team as a house ambassador. On Instagram, Vuitton said j-hope, “brings his unique charm and style to this exciting new chapter.”
Jimin & j-hope of BTS at Dior’s Homme Show in Paris
Our current favorite duo, Jihope, stole the spotlight when they appeared front row at the Dior Homme runway show. Jimin was there with his new title: Dior Global Ambassador. The luxury label has been a prominent fixture in the idol’s on- and off-stage wardrobe.
j-hope might have tagged along on Jimin’s big day as a return favor. Last summer, Jimin flew from Seoul to Chicago to attend j-hope’s solo concert debut when he performed at Lollapalooza. In his new documentary j-hope in the Box (now streaming on Disney+), j-hope described how much Jimin’s support helped him. “I was panicking,” j-hope said of his mood, before his friend and fellow idol arrived. “And I could only shake off that fear thanks to Jimin.”
RM From BTS at Bottega Veneta’s Show in Milan
The leader of BTS, Kim Namjoon, made dreams come true (literally) when he sat front row at Bottega Venneta’s fashion week presentation. Since BV became a regular staple in the Indigo rapper’s wardrobe, fans have been begging for the artist to collab with the luxe label. Given RM’s front row status this weekend, an official ambassadorship seems imminent.
Hoshi From SEVENTEEN at AMI – Alexandre Mattiussi’s Menswear Fall-Winter Show in Paris
Hoshi, whose recent single “Fighting” has been buried in even the most casual fan’s brain since the subunit BSS’s comeback Second Wind in January, attended Paris Fashion Week for the very first time. “I had so much fun,” the performance leader tells InStyle of the inspiring trip. “Visuals play a key part in what I do, I hope that I will also be able to translate this experience into music and performances that we present.”
Mingyu of SEVENTEEN at Marni’s Fall/Winter Fashion Show in Tokyo
Once upon a time, SEVENTEEN’s Mingyu walked the runway as a model during Seoul’s Fashion Week. In Tokyo, the rapper officially earned his unofficial “Fashion Icon” title by sitting front row at Marni. “If opportunities arise down the road, I would love to continue on with these experiences,” Mingyu tells InStyle (getting our hopes up for more Fashion Icon Mingyu content in the future).
Joshua of SEVENTEEN at Marni’s Fall/Winter Fashion Show in Tokyo
A trip to Fashion Week meant an endless fountain of inspiration for SEVENTEEN’s Joshua. “The overall production and style spoke to me,” the honey-voiced singer tells InStyle about his experience at Marni’s Tokyo presentation. “I think it will definitely inspire me for my work.”
SUGA of BTS at Valentino’s Haute Couture Show in Paris
Swathed in mushroom colored silk, Min Yoongi graced Paris Fashion Week with his presence as he flexed his latest job title: global ambassador for Valentino. The BTS producer/idol/icon will continue globe-trotting as he embarks on his first-ever solo tour under his alternate persona, August D, in April. Fans and fashion editors alike are hopeful the rapper’s tourwear will include as many Valentino outfits as there are “Yoongi, Marry Me!” signs in the crowd.
Jeonghan of SEVENTEEN at Saint Laurent’s Men’s Fall/Winter Show in Paris
Even though he’s naturally sartorially blessed, Jeonghan still did his homework before attending the Saint Laurent runway show in Paris.
“I looked back to previous collections from YSL and tried to get a better sense of the brand and its ethos in advance,” he tells InStyle. “Attending the show, being there physically, was eye-opening in a sense that there was so much more to the experience than what I could try to learn on my own.”
ENHYPEN at Prada’s Menswear Collection in Milan
When ENGENE (ENHYPEN’s devoted fan base) appeared by the thousands in Milan to catch a glimpse of their bias, the members were overwhelmed by their enthusiasm. “I was aware that we had fans in Europe, but didn’t expect to see such a big crowd,” Sunghoon tells InStyle. “I felt grateful and touched by their love and support.”
Inside, the idols were humbled again when meeting with Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, two legends on the fashion landscape. “They are two individuals in the fashion industry whom I have always admired,” Jay explained. “Meeting them in the flesh was a true honor.”
Jackson Wang of GOT7 at Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter Men’s Collection in Paris
Jackson Wang took time off his MAGICMAN solo world tour to attend Louis Vuitton’s runway show under his new title, House Ambassador for the Parisian brand. Next up for the Hong Kong-born rapper: a Coachella appearance that (we hope) will feature more custom LV.
Taeyang of BIGBANG at Givenchy’s Men’s Ready-to-Wear Fall/Winter Collection in Paris
Taeyang is already having a massively successful year thanks to a recent single, “VIBE”’ featuring BTS’s Jimin, and his appointment as a global ambassador for Givenchy. “Taeyang is an inspiring artist – a music pioneer with an authentic, barrier-breaking way of expressing his own personal style, which fits perfectly with today’s Givenchy aesthetic,” explained Creative Director Matthew Williams in a statement about the brand’s new relationship with the idol.
“I am grateful to be able to start this new chapter of my life with Givenchy,” Taeyand said of the honor. “It holds a special meaning to me, as Givenchy is a brand that has inspired me in many ways over the years. Matthew has also been a leader in both fashion and culture for many years. I look forward to the exciting ways to collaborate with Givenchy through this partnership.”
Ten of NCT at Saint Laruent Men’s Fall/Winter Show in Paris
NCT’s Ten, well known for his vocal range, caused a Twitter meltdown when he appeared at Saint Laurent’s runway presentation in a chest-baring outfit.
Kai of EXO at Gucci’s Men’s Fall/Winter Show in Milan
EXO’s Kai outshone everyone at Gucci’s Men’s presentation at Milan’s Fashion Week while wearing a double-breasted, windowpane plaid suit. The K-pop star has been working with Gucci since 2018 and even designed a capsule collection in 2021. Kai-biased fans have more than just his fashion to be excited about. The singer confirmed he’ll be dropping a new solo album, Rover, in March.
Jisoo of Blackpink at Dior’s Haute Couture Show in Paris
Jisoo took time off from Blackpink’s Born Pink World Tour to attend Dior’s show at Paris Fashion Week wearing an ethereal, Hepburn-inspired look from the designer. The “Pink Venom” singer has had an impactful partnership with the luxury brand since Dior named her a global ambassador (impressively, for both its fashion and beauty lines) in 2021.
G-Dragon of BIGBANG at Chanel’s Haute Couture Show in Paris
G-Dragon has been a familiar face at Chanel shows for years. The rapper walked in the luxury brand’s haute couture show in 2015 and became the face of Chanel in 2016.
Hanni From NewJeans at Gucci’s Women’s Collection Presentation in Milan
NewJeans may be a rookie girl group, but Hanni proved she’s already a fashion veteran by nabbing a Gucci ambassadorship last October.
Yuqi From (G)I-DLE at Fendi’s Fall/Winter Women’s Collection in Milan
Yuqi attended the Fendi runway show looking ethereal in a sheer look punctuated with mint green.
Jeno From NCT at Ferragamo’s Womenswear Fall/Winter Runway Show in Milan Ferragamo was so excited to have Jeno sit front row at their Milan runway that they created a teaser trailer hyping up his appearance.
Ferragamo was so excited to have Jeno sit front row at their Milan runway that it created a teaser trailer hyping up his appearance.
Joy From Red Velvet at Tod’s Fall/Winter Women’s Show in Milan
Joy celebrated her second year as a Tod’s ambassador with a trip to view its Milan Fashion Week presentation.