We're getting very up close and personal with the love for Korean pop music love in India, and its surrounding industry. Let super fans power your soundtrack, tell you how to talk and walk K-pop style, in the best that K-pop fashion has to offer. Read more here.
“When I first watched a K-pop music video I thought it was bizarre. The members wore unusual outfits and perfectly crafted make-up; but their dewy skin and unhindered confidence is what really got me hooked,” says Alyssa Lalrinsangi, an artist from Aizawl, Mizoram. Peppy melody, synchronised dance moves, and a fetching troop of South-Korean singers is possibly the best way to anatomise a K-pop band. It’s tough to expound the intricacies of K-pop fashion, an arresting mash-up of western influences with local flavours–washed out band T-shirts, subversive slogans, androgynous tailoring, piercings, shocks of candy-floss hair, and clip-buckle belts (hello Off-White). Traditional sportswear garments such as varsity jackets and baseball jerseys are repurposed into disco worthy blouses and thigh-skimming dresses.
Music and fashion have held a longstanding parley, the domination of hip-hop cool kids such as A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott and seasoned artists like Kanye West has become the zeitgeist of our times. Over the recent years K-pop artists are swiftly taking over the international fashion scene, superstar and Chanel ambassador G-Dragon is a poster child for this movement. Joining him on front row is pop boy Kai from EXO who was most recently spotted at the Gucci Cruise 2019 show and former Girls Generation singer, Jessica Jung who is a regular at Tom Ford and Calvin Klein, grazing shoulders with Hollywood celebrities. With a booming fan base and Instagram followers that run into millions, the reach and influence of the K-pop star is far-flung. And north-east India proves to be a thriving petri dish for this movement’s meteoric rise.
A ban on Hindi channels and the subsequent popularity of Korean dramas via Arirang TV established an unlikely form of entertainment for the north-east Indian teenager. “When Hallyu or the Korean [cultural] wave hit the north-east, the fashion was a sharp contrast to Indian fashion; but because we shared similar physical appearances, it seemed more relatable and it was easy to pick up nuances,” says Lulu Tetseo, a folk artist from Kohima. Lalrinsangi deconstructs K-pop fashion into three genres, “There’s the ‘Bubblegum’ concept which constitutes of neon-hued suits, quirky prints such as polka dots or flamingoes, and pastel coloured hair. Then there’s the ‘Edgy’ concept, which includes wearing dark velvets, silk and leather along with eye-patches and chokers for a more gothic vibe. Lastly, there’s a more pared-down concept that comprises of clean-cut outfits in pale blues and dull yellows, devoid of accessories.”
The rise of K-pop fashion can also be credited to the Korean beauty craze and the influx of eminent brands such as Innisfree and Etude in India. For several K-fashion followers recreating the stage looks of their idols is a daunting task so they tend to veer towards their ‘airport’ looks and off-duty style. Cult Korean portals include Stylenanda, Soaestheticshop and Yesstyle, along with even more accessible counterparts like Koovs, Romwe, Shein and Club Factory.
While the K-pop industry has a startling number of boy bands, their androgynous appearance earns them several female fans. “K-pop has altered my views on personal style and sexuality. While I initially found the concept of men wearing eyeliner strange, I now applaud these groups for experimenting fearlessly be it A.C.E for donning cropped-tops, Twice for showcasing gender fluidity, or Holland for being the first gay pop icon to support the LGBTQ community and drag culture,” says Naureen Gurung. Local events such as the Changwon World Festival in New Delhi and the Naga Cos Fest in Kohima act as the perfect playgrounds for K-pop fanatics to interact and express their style uninhibitedly.
While the feverish trajectory of K-pop fashion in inevitable, it is still confined to the north-eastern Indian states. Says Lalrinsangi, “I hope K-pop fashion is not perceived as outrageous, and can be embraced by individuals throughout the country. It would be wonderful to walk around rocking bright hair and accessories without being ogled at in distaste. I hope for a braver and unique future in fashion.”
Hair and make-up: Kritika Gill
Model Gloria Tep at Inega Talent Management
Fashion assistant: Garvika Khanna