When it comes to luxury brands, no one is stacking up brand ambassador deals quite like Kpop stars. While fashion influencers and supermodels are still pulling weight on the marketing front, more and more Korean faces lend their names and stardom to fashion houses’ campaigns.
But how can a still somewhat ‘niche’ market translate into social media engagement for iconic brands? Who was the blueprint for the phenomenon and how did the general public receive it?
Today, we aim to answer these questions and essentially catalog which Kpop idol is an ambassador for which brand.
As the Hallyu wave has continued to grow despite (or perhaps, as a consequence of) the pandemic, more names have been appointed global ambassadors.
Now, let’s catch up on who is repping who!
The Origin of Kpop Ambassador Deals
Like many innovations fashion-related in the Korean sphere, credit is due to the one and only G-Dragon. The rapper has had a reputation as a fashionista since early on in his career. Right from the get-go, there have been blogs and social media pages solely dedicated to what he would wear. And perhaps that is exactly what motivated Chanel to bring him on board first. This surely panned out well for them, as his attendance in the 2015 Paris fashion show caused a lot of buzz on the media – particularly because not only was he a pioneer among Kpop idols, but also one of the few Asian stars invited.
Since then, and as the Korean entertainment industry grew, many other Korean idols have gain recognition in the fashion world. Luxury houses seek out the biggest names in the scene, borrowing their image and notoriety to market globally. And it really is as simple and wearing or using the products in the public eye.
Besides, the numbers show promise. Sales have skyrocketed and the general public is becoming increasingly more aware of luxury brands.
The younger generation, especially, has become a reliable target, partly due to the ascension of ‘flex’ culture. And much like the Korean wave has hit the western world, Asians also have a luxurious taste (and the purchasing power to match it). And this is precisely how the effectiveness of the formula is proven.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the biggest Kpop names and the brands they’ve lent their faces to:
Idols as Luxury Global Ambassadors
No one can deny the pull social media has from a commercial standpoint. Most businesses, from the smallest shops to the biggest corporations, have gone online. And social networks have kept up with the times, updating their platforms to facilitate online trading.
Kpop stars have some of the biggest and most dedicated digital followings. Any interaction with the public and/or brands generates literal millions of comments and shares. So, if digital influencers are frequently contacted for partnerships with digital brands, it is not hard to understand how Korean celebrities’ engagement statistics can draw in the high-rollers of the fashion and beauty industries.
Although there are multiple different industries borrowing Kpop idols to push their sales agenda, we will focus on wearable products in this article.
BTS: Louis Vuitton
The BTS boys are unarguably the most popular Kpop act on the planet. And although they have had (and continue to have) a number of partnerships with several brands both domestically and globally, it was the most recent sign with Louis Vuitton that made headlines.
Interestingly enough, the brand’s most successful social media post (both in terms of engagement and monetization value) was precisely one that featured BTS promoting the Men’s Parish Fashion Week for Fall 2021.
As Louis Vuitton is known to align itself with the most in-demand figures across all markets, the announcement was not so surprising.
The band is made up of seven individuals, each with their own personal style and preferences. So, this will surely make for an interesting endorsement. We can expect each to bring their own charm and showcase the brand’s creations in the way that suits each best.
BLACKPINK: Bvlgari, Celine, Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent, Tiffany & Co.
It is fair to say that the female match to BTS in terms of global success is Blackpink. Again, each of the girls’ individuality shine, which is probably why each is a brand ambassador for a distinct brand – which is not entirely unheard of in Kpop.
Starting off with Jennie, it is fair to say that she is G-Dragon’s successor. She has also been appointed as a brand ambassador for Chanel back in 2018 and has since gained the affectionate nickname of ‘human Chanel’. In fact, her personal style is so well aligned with the brand’s that the partnership is a very natural fit.
The eldest – Jisoo – has been tapped for Dior, with which she has been working closely over the past few years. It is likely that the decision was motivated by the idol’s graceful and elegant fashion, again matching the house’s classic concept.
As for Lisa, she has been named Celine‘s Hedi Slimane very own muse. The Thai-born idol has fronted several campaigns so far. She has even been invited to take a seat at several other brands’ fashion shows. Most recently, she’s been showing up in campaigns for Bvlgari. Yet another luxury brand that has decided to sign with Blackpink’s main dancer.
Finally, we’ve got Rosé. She was appointed ambassador for Saint Laurent in the summer of 2020. If you follow her on social media, you have undoubtedly seen the multiple editorial spreads and campaign shoots she has done on their behalf. And as if that didn’t keep her busy enough, Tiffany & Co. has now also snatched her for the 2021 Tiffany Hardwear collection, of which she was named frontwoman.
EXO: Burberry, Bvlgary, Gucci, Prada
Here’s an example of another Kpop group that has secured brand ambassador deals for individual members. EXO is and has been one of the most well-established groups in Korea. Their international following might not be as widespread as more recent acts. Nevertheless, much like boy groups that succeeded them, they have millions of fans in Asia alone.
At some point, they have all been sponsored by massive brands, both in Korea and internationally. Most notably, we can point out Suho‘s representation for Bvlgari, Baekhyun as an ambassador for Burberry, and Chanyeol as a frontman for Prada.
Still, the biggest feat has got to be Kai‘s collaboration with Gucci. Not only was he named ambassador for the luxury house, but he also managed to produce an exclusive collection with them. Understandably, the collection was sold out within less than a day, despite the very hefty price marks. Kai was the first Korean celebrity to achieve this, but something tells us he will not be the last.
Hyuna is a long-established Kpop giant. With over a decade in the industry, the singer/rapper has scored multiple sponsorship deals with various brands. Most recently, we can highlight the campaign for Calvin Klein Underwear, in which she participated with her boyfriend DAWN.
As for luxury deals, the Spanish house Loewe has just announced Hyuna as their new brand ambassador. The statement was made following the brand’s takeover of the Korean branch from the former domestic distributor.
Red Velvet: Ferragamo, Prada, Tod’s
Red Velvet has been around for quite a while, too. And like any other SM act, these girls have been offered their fair share of campaigns and sponsorships over the years. Some of the brands that have benefited from their stardom include Burberry, Chanel, Converse, among others.
As for luxury brand ambassador deals, Red Velvet’s leader Irene was tapped by Prada last year. Despite the controversy surrounding the idol last October, the Italian house did not withdraw their partnership.
Joy has also been very active in recent Tod’s campaigns. She has advertised both accessories and shoes on her personal social media channels. Furthermore, she starred in the recent ‘In Our Shoes’ feature, wearing the new season’s ready-to-wear collection.
And just this summer, Seulgi was announced as the new global ambassador for Ferragamo. The Italian designer brand had been working with her for a while. But it seems like her giant following (and her dancing skills) has earned her the title of frontwoman for the new Let’s Dance shoe capsule collection.
Lastly, we have an unlikely partnership. SM rookies aespa might only have debuted last November, but they have already made their splash in the Kpop world. Besides that, they have been picked up by Givenchy to be global ambassadors for the fashion house. The creative director himself, Mathew Williams, made the executive call. And he tapped all four members of the group for the role.
Within the first year of the Kpop group’s existence, they’ve already bagged a major brand ambassador deal. Who knows what the future has in store for them…
There are conflicting concerns about how luxury marketing might be pushing overconsumption among young people. Despite this, Kpop brand ambassador deals should continue to expand over the next few years.
If Kpop fans have developed an interest or the Korean language and culture along with the entertainment phenomenon, designer fashion houses can expect a big turnout in sales as a result of these campaigns.
Let us know which ambassadors are, in your opinion, better fitted for their respective brands. And if you are curious about where Kpop idols get their clothes or the Korean fashion trends for this summer, be sure to check out our blog.
We hope you learned something new today.
Until next time and happy shopping!