The clock ticks just shy of 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26, as Dior’s Spring/Summer 2024 show prepares to take the stage at Paris Fashion Week. Outside the venue, a crowd of fans eagerly awaits, their excitement palpable. As a black BMW 7 Series slowly approaches, the cheers grow louder. Suddenly, BLACKPINK’s Jisoo emerges from the vehicle, accompanied by a security detail. Adorned in the latest designs from Dior, she waves graciously to the sea of unfamiliar faces that have gathered to catch a glimpse of her. This brief but impactful appearance, coupled with her front-row attendance at the show, generated a staggering $1.6 million USD worth of media impact value (MIV) in terms of online visibility. The buzz surrounding her presence added an additional $6.5 million USD to the total, according to Launchmetrics, an online data platform. In fact, Jisoo’s attendance at the Dior show alone garnered more MIV than 86% of the brands showcasing at the prestigious fashion event.
K-pop has emerged as the international music supernova of this decade, captivating audiences worldwide with its explosive rise from Seoul. Groups like BTS and BLACKPINK have amassed fandoms that rival those of global icons like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. They have dominated the charts and sold out stadiums effortlessly. Initially, the fashion industry was slow to embrace these South Korean stars, with BTS attending their first fashion show for Louis Vuitton in 2021, despite their debut in 2013 and numerous chart-topping hits prior to that. However, once their immense value was recognized, the floodgates opened, and invitations to shows, collaborations, and ambassadorships poured in abundantly.
In the past year alone, we have witnessed a multitude of high-profile partnerships between K-pop stars and luxury brands. Cartier appointed BTS’ Kim Taehyung (V) as its newest global ambassador, Loewe enlisted NCT’s Taeyong, Prada welcomed all seven members of ENHYPEN, Valentino signed BTS’ Suga, Versace partnered with Stray Kids’ Hyunjin, Givenchy secured Taeyang, Dior employed BTS’ Jimin, and later the entire Tomorrow X Together group. And these are just a few examples among many. During the February fashion weeks, K-pop’s influence was undeniable, with NCT’s Johnny Suh attending Thom Browne, Seventeen’s DK appearing at Bally, BTS’ RM gracing Bottega Veneta, BLACKPINK’s Rosé making an appearance at Saint Laurent, NCT’s Jeno spotted at Ferragamo, and BLACKPINK’s Jennie causing a stir at Chanel, just months before launching a full-fledged collaboration with Calvin Klein.
Soyeon Kim, the visual director of SM Entertainment, one of the leading agencies managing K-pop talent, including NCT, EXO, Girls’ Generation, Red Velvet, and WayV, among others, believes that K-pop’s unprecedented success can be attributed to the strong sense of unity between the artists and their fans. “K-pop is an industry that has grown alongside its fandom,” Kim explains to Hypebeast. The rigorous training programs that K-pop stars undergo, encompassing vocal, dance, acting, and language classes, create a unique bond between the artists and their dedicated fanbase. Fans closely follow this journey, witnessing their favorite stars’ dreams come true in real time and feeling intimately connected to their stories.
Indeed, the path to becoming a K-pop idol is arduous, with trainees enduring years of rigorous training, uncertain of whether they will ultimately debut. This process captivates fans, who become deeply invested in the journey of these aspiring artists. “You can train with a management company for three or four years and be dropped at any moment,” explains Matthew Cancel, founder of Cancel Communications, a New York-based public relations agency. “It’s special for the fanbase to watch K-pop stars’ dreams come true in real time and feel like they are part of that story.”
K-pop’s meteoric rise and its symbiotic relationship with its fans have undeniably reshaped the fashion industry’s perception and embrace of these South Korean stars. As their influence continues to grow, we can expect to see even more exciting collaborations and groundbreaking moments at the intersection of K-pop and fashion.