The Korean pop music scene has long been dominated by the likes of G-Dragon and his BigBang bandmates. After that it was CL and still thereafter, the industry was enchanted by CL’s 2NE1 bandmate, Sandara Park, and thereafter, Woo Ji-ho – the Korean rapper and leader of boy group, Block B, best known by his stage name, Zico – was a clear front runner for the position of the latest K-pop “it” boy.
Now, it seems that EXO’s Sehun is quickly emerging as the next big thing in Korea and amongst the international fashion crowd. With 10.5 million Instagram followers, and recent appearances on magazines covers, including SUPER Elle, Marie Claire Korea, L’Optimum Thailand, and Vogue Korea, among others.
His personal style and penchant for fashion has spawned no shortage of sites – and social media accounts – dedicated to his sartorial choices, and if he predecessors in international fame are any indication, Sehun will likely nab at least a few collaborations with Western brands in the near future. Chanel, for instance, has repeated tapped G-Dragon as an ambassador for its brand; Fendi recently collaborated with G-Dragon’s BigBang bandmate Taeyang; Maybelline, Jeremy Scott, and Alexander Wang have taken a liking to CL in the past; and Zico collaborated with designer Go Tae Yong – who helms the Beyond Closet School Gang brand – for his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which debuted during New York Fashion Week.
These K-pop stars and others, given their penchant for designer labels and impeccable sense of personal style, are proving to be ideal ambassadors for Western brands looking East as a hotbed for growth. The Chinese consumer, in particular, has become wealthier and more accepting of Western retail formats since luxury brands began investing in the Chinese market, with Louis Vuitton, Bally, Gucci and Ferragamo among the first wave of retailers to open outlets in China more than 10 years ago. However, with the changing tides of consumption and luxury spending and the introduction of new – younger – spending groups, luxury brands have had to tailor their approach.
Changes are coming in terms of the countries being targeted (think: less expansion in China and more of a focus on South Korea, for instance, as many Chinese are now buying their luxury products there and by 2020, Chinese luxury consumers will spend $29 billion at South Korea luxury retailers). They are also altering the actual marketing practices being utilized. The latter appears to be taking the form of enlisting Asian ambassadors for an extra push in the modern and changing landscape, and it is here that G-Dragon, Sehun and co. fit in so perfectly.