Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt
SEOUL–I didn’t know anything about Gayo or K-pop and their ancillary subcultures of style among young adults until two years ago. Singers like Jonghyun of the band Shinee, who is fond of adding punk rocks elements to his wardrobe on or offstage, are style icons and command huge followings. Many of the designers who showed at Seoul Fashion Week dress these pop stars, hoping to connect with a young generation obsessed with the smallest details of their idols’ fashion and hairstyle.
Male K-pop stars are objects of desire; in a way, they are more sexualized than women here. To wit, images of men selling products on billboards outnumbered women. On a visit to one of the pack of cosmetics stores in the shopping district Myeongdong, I found at least over 55 different types of hair gel products. At all these stores, pop stars like 2PM singer Nichkhun and singers Yunho, Changmin, Jaejong, Yoochun and Junsu of TVQX dominated the storefront displays.“Korean pop-stars Big-Bang and 2NE1 have the ability to capture young people’s wanting for individuality,” male supermodel Kim Won Jung told me at a fitting for the G.I.L. Homme show. “They wear wild and crazy costumes that are impossible for people in real life to even imitate…they practically made Jeremy Scott for Adidas popular here.”
In his review of 13-member K-pop band Super Junior’s show at MSG, Times writer Jon Caramanica described K-Pop as “an environment of relentless newness, both in participants and in style.” Perhaps there is a correlation between the diversity in style at the men’s shows–more so than the women’s–and the ubiquity of male pop stars as the arbiters of style for the fashion consumer.
Click through for highlights, reflections and reviews from Seoul men’s fashion week.