22. February 2022
What is Kpop Techwear? Origin + Variations
Truth be told, black will always be the new black. Even in the Kpop industry where the dynamic color schemes of idols’ outfits are infinite. Marked by its dark, cool, and edgy vibe, black is a timeless color—or even an absence of color—that remains a prerequisite to any wardrobe. It also constitutes fashion trends like techwear Kpop has popularized.
Techwear, a portmanteau of the words “technology” and “wear,” lives up to futuristic and military vibes in fashion. This type of clothing combines utility and the streetwear aesthetic. Thus, it contributes to more specific styles like cyberpunk and punk in general.
If you’re curious to know the emergence of techwear and how this nearly monochromatic trend has shaped Kpop over the years, then here’s a little crash course on this fashion.
- History and Origin of Techwear
- Staples of Techwear Fashion
- How Kpop Adapted the Techwear Trend
- Popular Variations of Kpop Techwear
Techwear’s roots trace back to the late 1960s when the fabric Gore-Tex was developed. Gore-Tex, now generically known as Teflon, is a lightweight yet waterproof material suitable for everyday and industrial use.
The fabric’s popularity skyrocketed over time. As a result, the fashion brand ACRONYM adopted it in 2000s. This clothing brand eventually pioneered techwear with its loose black jacket with large pockets. However, this clothing piece, along with other products in the same line, came with a hefty price tag.
Since techwear is still sought after by many, numerous brands have developed cheaper versions. While the alternatives barely match costlier brands in terms of durability and functionality, they at least serve the edgy monochromatic aesthetic. Eventually, the style evolved beyond the prototype.
In general, techwear clothes are comfortable and versatile. They’re also fashionable for those who prefer a minimalist yet street-style wardrobe.
The techwear aesthetic is highly flexible, but modernization has given way to several wardrobe staples that deliberately radiate this fashion. Moreover, from having minimal stylistic features, most techwear clothes now have pseudo-functional accents for aesthetic purposes.
For instance, you’d commonly find oversized hooded jackets, baggy cargo pants, and combat boots among techwear enthusiasts. Oftentimes, these staples also feature multiple large pockets for convenience, as well as clasps, buckles, belts, and harnesses.
To fulfill the aesthetic, some even wear tactical gear such as padded vests, knee pads, masks, and even clear goggles. Large crossbody or belt bags are also a norm. Besides Gore-Tex, nylon is a commonly used fabric among techwear items.
In this generation, the Kpop industry is one of the most influential leaders of techwear. Either as a consistent concept or merely for a comeback, techwear is popular among idol groups with “bad girl” or “bad boy” themes.
Male group MONSTA X, for example, is perhaps one of the famous trailblazers of Kpop techwear. In their promotion for the song “Shoot Out” in 2018, the boys sported an edgy two-tone wardrobe. They can be seen wearing black cargo pants with pockets, harnesses, and patent boots.
Given Kpop’s emphasis on aesthetics, the functionality of techwear comes second, even for intense stage performances. It’s the reason why some idols sporting Kpop techwear can be seen wearing cropped tube tops, mini skirts, tight leather trousers, tank tops, and even formal loafers.
While classics are still trendy, Kpop has eventually reimagined the techwear concept and incorporated other themes for stylistic purposes. Apart from stage performances, the striking variations of idols’ techwear outfits add a flair of charisma and edginess to the atmosphere.
The Halloween version of TXT’s “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) feat. Seori” performance video featured the boys displaying techwear in monochrome. Here, all members swapped baggy pants with more form-fitting jeans, some made with leather. They also wore patent combat boots and accented their outfits with silver studs and chain accessories.
With some wearing tank tops and jackets, and even versatile harnesses and a beret, TXT’s “Ghost Hunter” outfits for MOAs (TXT’s official fandom name) are a bold yet classic take on techwear.
The techwear aesthetic from the “Kill This Love” era of BLACKPINK is definitely a killer with a mix of neutrals like white beige and gray. They all displayed black belts, thigh harnesses, and cropped tops. Their stylists also paired black mid-calf and nearly knee-high boots with the girls’ shorts that featured their slender legs.
While this look leaned more towards aesthetic than utility, BLACKPINK channeled their girliness and even experimented on techwear here to perfection. Feminine and chic, indeed.
For a supergroup like SuperM, it’s customary to have a super exquisite take on techwear. And these men’s wardrobe did not disappoint as expected. In this promotional photo for their debut song “Jopping,” the group displayed a regal black-and-white theme. The members looked elegant in techwear, even with plain white long sleeves, tactical gloves, and chunky sneakers.
If techwear and professional wear had a child, it would be this concept. From Taeyong’s heavily edgy and monochromatic outfit to Taemin’s classy suit-and-tie ensemble with a corset, SuperM executed a terrific version of techwear.
In a Music Bank promotion, MAMAMOO’s intense performance for “gogobebe” displayed the girls in a hip military uniform complete with leather belts and fake bullet holsters. The loose long sleeves and pants combination might’ve looked slightly boyish, but the girls’ cropped jackets added a girly kick to their style and accentuated their toned figures.
MAMAMOO’s camouflage outfits might be closer to the warcore aesthetic, but they still fall under the techwear trend. Fashion and functionality never had this perfect synergy until MAMAMOO wowed fans with techwear.
And that’s a wrap for the Kpop techwear concept! If these techwear staples in Kpop inspired you, be sure to check out our other fashion articles highlighting retro and street fashion. Let us know if we missed other stylish features of techwear by commenting below.