In recent years, we’ve witnessed the rise of nostalgic sounds and concepts. Although the Kpop retro concept isn’t exactly a novelty, it’s becoming increasingly popular among chart-topping acts. Besides taking inspiration from the music of the last century, Kpop groups and artists have also shown some showstopping looks that perfectly complement the retro wave.
Interestingly enough, the latest fashion trends also have borrowed greatly from past fads. And because idol fashion offers up the best ideas, today we’ll be going over some of our favorite Kpop retro concept looks.
Whether it be stage looks or music video styles. From the 40s all the way up to the 90s, we’ll now cover some of the best retro-inspired comebacks we’ve been seeing:
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All the glitz and color of the 80s meets the counterinsurgency of the 70s. The mainstream fashion of the 90s was by far the most versatile when compared to the decades that preceded it.
EXID – “Lady” & “I Love You”
EXID did an outstanding job at channeling 90s street fashion for their “Lady” comeback. From color-block windbreakers to denim overalls, baseball caps, and massive gold chains. These ladies managed to evoke the spirit of the decade with both their music and style.
Only a year later, EXID had another 90s inspired comeback with “I Love You“. This time around, they strayed away from streetwear and channeled the party scene instead.
One of the most standout scenes in this music video features the girls in funky-patterned pantsuits, borrowing the color craze of the 80s. In some stills, Solji and LE can be seen wearing fur coats and heart-shaped sunglasses, two other big trends of the decade. And continuing the nightwear theme, Hani is seen wearing an all-leather outfit, a fad that become popular at the end of the 90s.
Triple H – “365 Fresh” & “Retro Future”
Triple H was a trio project by CUBE Entertainment, made up of Kpop superstar HyunA, Dawn (then E’Dawn of PENTAGON), and former groupmate Hui. The trio was heavily 90s inspired, from the sound all the way to the fashion. Although their first release “365 Fresh” also drew inspiration from the 80s, with colorful striped pieces, bucket hats, plaid, and denim being some of the standout elements.
Their following release, “RETRO FUTURE“, was an absolute ode to 90s pop culture. Besides the obviously outdated props and cinematography used for the music video, their fashion included many of the decade’s short-lived trends that have made a comeback in recent years. A few of those that we can highlight include houndstooth patterns, sequins, silky blouses, and mesh shirts.
TWICE – “Can’t Stop Me”
Twice’s “Can’t Stop Me” offers a wonderful retro mix of 80s synthpop and 90s fashion. The album’s visual cover pays homage to the modern working woman, with pinstripe blazers, collared shirts, and high-waisted suit pants. The music video, however, showcases more playful trends, such as all-denim outfits or the iconic yellow plaid made popular by Clueless‘ Cher.
NCT U – “Make a Wish” & “90’s Love”
NCT U released two 90s-inspired comebacks back to back that truly brought on that retro nostalgia. The first, “Make a Wish“, is filled with streetwear and hip-hop styles that became notorious for status symbols. From logomania to heavy bling and basketball sneakers. This comeback is a genuine ode to celebrity fashion of that era.
The very aptly named “90s Love” served as a tribute to the popularity of sporty streetstyle. The music video is set around a hockey theme, but the style cues are unmistakable: graphic tees, hoodies, windbreakers, denim jeans, and plenty of colorful mix-and-matching.
Denim and neon colors were all the rage during the 80s. The new wave era birthed a taste for athletic styles turned casual. In the age of crazy hair and synth-heavy music, fashion took a truly experimentalist turn, truly pushing boundaries and bringing pop culture into the mainstream public.
Everglow – “LA DI DA”
Everglow has quickly become a household name in the Kpop scene. With “LA DI DA“, they merged the distinct electropop instrumentals of the 80s with looks that will undoubtedly take you back in time. This girl-power anthem paid homage to many retro trends. The music video itself is inspired by a comic book series, likely because graphic novels and superheroes were all the rage back then.
A satin off-shoulder draped blouse, rhinestone fringe denim shorts, a puff-sleeve floral blouse, even hoop earrings. All of these elements very elegantly add to the retro flair of the music video. Even the black leather looks are somewhat reminiscent of an early Madonna.
BRAVE GIRLS – “We Ride”
After a nearly three-year hiatus, Brave Girls came back as a 4-member ensemble with “We Ride“. This summery track is heavily influenced by 80s synth-pop. The music video is very retro-themed, evocative of the decade’s technology. As for fashion, you could say that the styling is very minimal. Still, it preserves some great retro trends, mainly bright colors and sequins.
EXO-SC – “1 Billion Views”
The two EXO rappers Sehun and Chanyeol partnered up to bring us the lovechild of old-school hip hop and disco. “1 Billion Views” is a great window to the funky side of 80s runway fashion. Holographic sweaters, fun prints, acid wash denim, and leather pants. The styling for this comeback is truly entertaining and inspiring, especially to those who don’t mind going a little crazy with their patterns.
The fashion of the 70s is all about free-flowing blouses, bootcut pants, and platform shoes. To many, it is symbolistic of disco music and restlessness. But it’s no coincidence that so many of this era’s trends still thrive today.
BTS – “Dynamite”
BTS’ first full-English release was a smashing hit all over the world. Although the song itself borrows from different music periods, the fashion for the “Dynamite” comeback is unmistakably 70s. Bell-bottomed pants, patterned sharp-collared shirts, leather footwear, and tweed blazers.
MAMAMOO – “You’re The Best”
The ladies of MAMAMOO were one of the first to take on a retro-inspired concert. Their early sound is very much swing-inspired, so it’s no wonder that 70s styling was bound to make an appearance. In their “You’re The Best” music video, there is no shortage of flare jeans, scarf belts, and crop tops.
Taeyeon – “Happy”
The former SNSD leader is no stranger to retro concepts. Taeyeon’s solo release last year, “Happy“, was filled with fashion cues from the 70s, including subtle hippie styles. Her most recognizable look for this comeback features space buns, two-toned denim flares, and decorated Converse sneakers. In one of her live performances, Taeyeon wore a bell-sleeved cardigan, white boot-cut jeans, and a woven chunky belt.
GFRIEND – “MAGO”
One of GFRIEND’s last releases before their unfortunate disbandment was an absolute retro wonder. With “MAGO“, the girls got to explore a more charming side of fashion. In fact, they brought all the glitter and glam of the disco era. Sequined dresses, flared jeans, and platform boots were some of the trends they chose to revive. Needless to say that they totally nailed the assignment.
The most common sources of inspiration for a Kpop retro concept comeback are the 70s, 80s, and 90s. That doesn’t mean that the preceding decades were looked over. In fact, this section is dedicated to a few of our favorite nostalgic styles in Kpop.
MAMAMOO – “Mr. Ambiguous”
Although we’ve already covered the queens of modern swing in Korea, MAMAMOO’s incredible debut is still very beloved among Kpop fans. Curiously enough, their “Mr. Ambiguous” style is a perfect modern reimagination of 60s mod fashion. Short dresses and bold eyeliner were the staples of the swinging decade.
TWICE – “Signal”
Another incredible 60s reprise was that of TWICE’s for their “Signal” comeback. Although the song itself had virtually no nostalgic elements, there is styling reminiscent of the decade. Just before the ‘abduction’ scene, we see the girls with vintage-inspired rolled hairstyles, mod minidresses, oversized earrings, chunky belts, and even a scarf headband. Perhaps this is a not-so-discreet nod to the space craze of the time.
GIRL’S GENERATION – “Lion Heart”
Back in 2015, the iconic Girl’s Generation came back with a vintage-inspired concept for “Lion Heart“. The fashion in the music video was mostly 40s and 50s inspired, with rounded-skirt dresses, rolled hairstyles, and Hollywood-style makeup. As for the dance break and live performances, they took on the flapper style of the 20s.
Taking inspiration from vintage trends and reimagining them into modern-day outfits is a failproof way to ensure your wardrobe endures. Which of these Kpop retro concept looks is your favorite? Did we miss any iconic styles? Make sure to let us know in the comments.
Until next time!