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Luxury brands bank on K-pop power

July 30,2019
GOT7’s Jackson Wang recently launched a collection with fashion label Fendi. [TEAM WANG]
Mino of Winner and Jessica Jung, former member of Girls’ Generation, model for Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana. [JOONGANG ILBO]
Last Tuesday, a special collection launched by Italian luxury brand Fendi and K-pop boy band GOT7 member Jackson Wang sold out in a matter of hours.

Fans of the Hong Kong-born star in China, where the collection was launched, purchased every product in stock. The fact that Wang, who has 14.5 million followers on Instagram, had a hand in designing the pieces gave fans even more reason to splurge on the most expensive items in the collection. The Fendi x Jackson Wang ‘baguette’ bag was priced at around $3,770.

Luxury fashion houses are well aware of the enormous influence that K-pop artists have on attracting new customers and creating social media buzz.

This June, Louis Vuitton casted boy band Winner’s Mino to walk the runway during their Men’s Spring/Summer 2020 show. Jessica Jung, a former member of Girls’ Generation, walked for Dolce & Gabbana last September during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019. Mino has 4.9 million followers on Instagram, while Jung has 8.6 million.

As demonstrated by the success of the Fendi x Jackson Wang collection, sales are almost guaranteed to increase multifold if brands find the right faces to represent their products.

“Some years ago when Big Bang’s G-Dragon was Asia’s model for a Nike product, everything in stock was sold out in Asia,” recounted senior manager Ban Ae-jin of M Public, a public relations firm for Korean and global fashion brands such as & Other Stories and Timex.

“People around the world were surprised and began re-evaluating G-Dragon’s influence.”

The Wall Street Journal, picking up on the phenomenon, recently published an article titled “Are K-Pop Stars the World’s Biggest ‘Influencers’?” after noticing the impact that K-pop artists can make when working with brands.

Their answer, in short, seems to be yes. Citing data from global fashion search platform Lyst, the article noted that global searches for brands and even specific products multiplied once associated with a popular K-pop star.

In the three days following Christian Dior’s announcement that it would design the outfits for BTS’s world tour, for example, “search interest in the French label jumped 420 percent.”

Similar to BTS, there are the mega stars who have global appeal that many brands are competing to work with.

“Blackpink’s Jennie is the most sought-after figure in the fashion industry today,” said Ban. “She seems to have a love for style and fashion as well.”

Ban noted, however, that there are some areas where popular vloggers can shine more than K-pop stars.

“While no one can follow celebrities in terms of marketing power, videos uploaded by YouTubers help translate into real sales as creators explain each outfit in detail.”

BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]