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K-pop stars venture into world of fashion as brand ambassadors

THE JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI – A number of K-pop stars are making their way into the world of fashion as international brand ambassadors.

Appointing K-pop stars as brand ambassadors is not something that started lately. The tide gained momentum around 2016, with G-Dragon of BIGBANG being named a Chanel ambassador.

In the so-called diversity movement, it has become a major trend to undo the prevalence of White ambassadors in choosing the faces of fashion brands and instead use a non-White person. South Korean pop stars have been a good fit for the job partly because of their fluency in English – or because they already had millions of followers on their Instagram accounts.

During the height of the covid-19 crisis from 2020 to 2022, fashion weeks in Paris and Milan were mostly held remotely without spectators. And this year, most shows are back to normal, with a surprising number of stars from South Korean boy bands and girl bands being selected as ambassadors of high-end fashion brands.

ABOVE & BELOW: Suga (BTS) for Valentino; and Jungkook (BTS) for Calvin Klein. PHOTO: VALENTINO & CALVIN KLEIN
G-Dragon (BIGBANG) for Chanel. PHOTO: CHANEL
ABOVE & BELOW: Danielle (New Jeans) for Burberry; Taeyang (BIGBANG) for Givenchy; and Yujin (IVE) for Fendi. PHOTO: JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI, GIVENCY & INSTAGRAM/_YUJIN_AN

Here are some examples of K-pop stars becoming brand ambassadors in the first quarter of this year:

– Taeyang (BIGBANG), Givenchy

– Jackson Wang (GOT7), Louis Vuitton

– Suga (BTS), Valentino

– Jimin (BTS), Dior

– Danielle (NewJeans), Burberry

– Minji (NewJeans), Chanel

– Yujin (IVE), Fendi

– JungKook (BTS), Calvin Klein

Particularly notable is the appointment of stars from the so-called fourth-generation K-pop movement, such as Yujin from IVE, which debuted in 2021.

Even before she became a Fendi ambassador, Wonyoung from the act became a brand ambassador of Miu Miu in 2021.

K-pop groups are generally divided into four generations: The first generation is from the formative years (1996-2004); the second generation (2005-2013) includes such acts as TVXQ!, BIGBANG, Girls’ Generation and KARA, and coincides with the time when the three major agencies – SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment – made headway; the third generation (2013-2018), which saw the success of global star acts such as BTS and Blackpink, which have made effective use of social media; and the fourth and current generation that started in 2019.

Such a quick overview of the K-pop scene alone makes one surprised at its depth. In addition to the top three agencies, HYBE, which manages the number one act that is BTS, has been unstoppable so that now it is said there are four major entertainment agencies in South Korea.

As luxury brands constantly sent enthusiastic love calls to K-pop stars, some of them even gained nicknames related to brand names, such as Human Chanel (Jennie of Blackpink) and Human Gucci (Kai of EXO). Blackpink’s Lisa, who comes from Thailand, is also called Human Celine at times as the brand’s global ambassador. Bulgari also appointed her a global ambassador of the brand.