K-pop, short for Korean Pop, is more than just a music genre. It is a culture defined by its ability to mix music and dance genres and take inspiration from different aesthetic styles. Whether they’re on stage or the red carpet, K-pop fashion stars are known to mix luxury with streetwear and wear styles inspired by different decades. K-pop has the ability to combine all aspects of music, art, and dance under one roof while gracing the world stage with some of the best-dressed stars.
Having built some of the largest and most loyal global fan-bases while dominating the American music industry, K-Pop will never fail. The beginnings can be traced back to the first Korean artists who became popular overseas.
The South Korean music group, The Kim Sisters, is believed to have laid the foundations for the beloved genre. The trio rose to fame by singing popular American GI songs during the Korean War. Word quickly spread about the group in the US and they were soon signed by American producer Tom Ball.
After the Kim Sisters, K-pop can be divided into three generations. The first was from 1990 to 2000. Boy group Seo Taiji and Boys combined an eye for Korean and American pop music with hip-hop inspired dance choreography. The group wore designs inspired by American fashion and street style, continuing to introduce South Korea to US fashion. The group was an early pioneer of K-pop as we know it today. The boy group HOT, also popular in the ’90s, emulated the professionally trained skills, iconography, and style we see today. The band always rocked the same outfits, from head to toe leather to colorful oversized suits.
The second generation, from 2000 to 2010, consisted of groups such as Girls’ Generation, Apink, TVXQ, and others. The groups always wore the same outfits on stage which was more relaxed compared to what we are used to seeing today. The Wonder Girls group can be seen wearing casual street-style outfits in their “Tell Me” music video while Girls Generation flaunts casual jean-tee combos, sporty sweatshirts and skirts.
The third generation of K-pop (2010 to present) reigns supreme today. Fan-favorite boy-band BTS broke records after becoming the first K-pop group in history to be nominated for a Grammy in 2020 for their hit song JaBeZ which got 12.6 million streams on Spotify on the first day of its release. Third generation K-pop groups have secured contracts with luxury brands such as Chanel, Fendi, and Loewe to name a few.