Luxury brands strengthen ties with K-pop stars
K-pop artists, icons in South Korea and around the world, are now also the face of European luxury. In recent months, various Korean artists have become ambassadors for major luxury brands. Let's take a closer look at the Korean stars who are bringing these luxury brands to life.
South Korea, a cultural melting pot of Asian and Western influences, has become a key target for luxury brands. On April 29, Louis Vuitton and Nicolas Ghesquière presented their 2023 Fall/Winter pre-collection fashion show in Seoul at the Jamsugyo Bridge. Later in May, Gucci showcased its 2024 cruise collection at the Gyeongbokgung Palace, located in the South Korean capital, on the northern bank of the Han River.
One of the key influencers of South Korea's soft power is K-pop, an internationally successful music genre represented by energetic and inspiring singers and dancers, often grouped into bands. These "idols" have become fashion icons for European luxury brands, who have appointed them as their ambassadors. Two groups, in particular, stand out: BTS and Blackpink. Blackpink, being the most prominent girl band, with members Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé, and Lisa, each representing at least two brands. Tiffany & Co. jewelry, Chanel and Saint Laurent dresses, Jacquemus bags, and Cartier watches enjoy immense visibility, as every action and gesture of these Korean artists is scrutinized and analyzed by their highly engaged fan community.
In recent times, various collaborations have been announced. Taeyong, a singer from the NCT group with 11 million Instagram followers, has been an international ambassador for Loewe since June. Dior, who already counts Jisoo (Black Pink) and Park Jimin (BTS) among its ranks, partnered with Haerin from the NewJeans group at the end of April. Following the same path, Kenzo, led by Japanese designer Nigo, announced the addition of Vernon from the Seventeen group in June. Most recently, in late July, Hyunjin (Stray Kids) was incorporated as the fresh face of Versace.
An advantageous partnership, but for whom?
The K-pop fandom's enthusiasm knows no bounds, transcending individual groups or artists. While the leading stars have already cemented their place as brand ambassadors, a vast reservoir of talented artists continues to thrive under the wings of four colossal agencies: Hybe, YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment.
Hybe, which has accompanied the iconic BTS band since its inception, introduced the Boynextdoor group under its KOZ Entertainment label last May. In January 2022, the agency unveiled the Japanese group & Team, whose latest music video "Road Not Taken" racked up an astounding 1.4 million views within two weeks of release.
According to Glitz Paris, these agencies enforce highly restrictive contracts upon the idols, even going so far as to prohibit them from engaging in relationships, ensuring a pristine and polished image, as well as lucrative brand collaborations, at the cost of certain aspects of their freedom. Such is their level of control that, as reported by Glitz Paris, some idols do not even know how much money their advertising contracts generate.
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