K-pop has evolved incredibly from a music genre to a major driver of global culture, going above and beyond Asian fanbases to conquer the world. It’s all in an idol’s day to sell out international stadiums, kill it at the Grammy’s, and casually headline Coachella.
The meteoric ascent of K-pop has also influenced fashion worldwide: normalizing gender bending for a new generation (stan!), bringing back the 2000s (fleek), and cementing ‘off-duty celeb’ as a proper look (aegyo~).
To dissect the k-fashion vibe, we ran Sphere’s Subculture and Aesthetics Detection on TikTok’s k-pop fans. Here are the key aesthetics the AI picked up for a crash course in looking the part:
Sphere analytics in action: Subculture and Aesthetics Detection
Sphere’s looked at TikTok posts with these hashtags…
… and detected these top subculture concepts:
In a rejection of the status quo, k-stans are thrifting and keeping it low-key.
Literally the ‘Korean wave’, hallyu fashion is directly inspired by what pop idols wear on stage (fierce, bold, theatrical) or outfits in Korean dramas (soft, flowy, pastel).
The e-girl or e-boy look is modern day grunge with a geeky side. Think emo-goth-punk (black clothes and dark makeup, chains and piercings) with elements of cosplaying as a video game character.
K-fashion looks to be a remix of everything at once — couture with thrift, glam with street, theatrical with understated. Just as k-pop blends genres across decades, its fashion mashes subcultures to create aesthetics that stun.