The Top 15 K-pop Trends of 2021
Do you ever wonder what trends your favorite idols are following? Or do you prefer the fandom exclusive trends your bias creates themselves? In this fast world of a never-ending conveyor belt of new and returning trends, it can be difficult to keep up with it all. Global trends are often influenced or dominated by K-pop idols and Korean styles.Here are fifteen K-pop trends in fashion, hair, beauty, digitalized personas, and social media.
A rising trend in Korean fashion, especially among K-pop stars, is the beautiful, traditional style of Hanbok. Stars like BTS, Blackpink, and Lil Cherry have continued to integrate this style back into modern fashion. Hanbok is a traditional style of Korean clothing that is culturally worn for celebrations and ceremonies.Kevin Kim, the co-founder of the popular clothing label IISE Seoul has expressed “The Korean market used to always look outward for inspiration, but I have been noticing brands and artists looking more into our culture to create something new.” This re-emerging trend is empowering young people to embrace their culture.
In this new age of embracing gender fluidity, genderless fashion has been on a rise and embraced by a lot of K-pop idols. Tomorrow x Together’s Soobin fearlessly sported this style with a plaid half-skirt while Weekly defied Korean stereotypes by wearing school uniform shorts instead of the traditional skirts. While androgyny is being embraced and celebrated by our favorite idols, more and more people everywhere are encouraged to be who they truly are.
Throughout the decades of fashion trends, the style of animal print has never died throughout the world. The sexy, classic cheetah print has had a constant stronghold in the industry but the rise of western fashion, more importantly, cow print, has definitely become a threat to that stronghold. Fashion in the K-pop industry is not exempt from this trend. BTS’s V is animal print royalty; the idol’s signature style for sure features the wildest animal prints. Whether it is Sunmi wearing a cheetah top or V serving a luscious fur coat, animal print made its mark in the K-pop trends.
Vibrant, crazy colored hair is not a new trend by any means but with no surprise, K-pop idols and Korean stylists are paving the way for the hottest, never seen before hair colors. Red always finds its way into the current trends whether it is the 2014 firetruck red hair or 2018 strawberry blonde. In 2021, it is a luscious, cherry red color that is taking up stylist’s shelves. Idols like Jane from Momoland and Minnie from (G)I-DLE have fan’s jaws on the floor with this gorgeous hair color.
Blunt & Curly Bangs
Bangs, bangs, bangs! The biggest hair trend in 2021 especially among K-pop idols are blunt and curly bangs. The trendsetting Taeyeon from Girls’ Generation rocks her blunt bangs alongside Song Yu-qi from (G)I-DLE. If this youthful hairstyle ever goes out of trend, it will go out in a blaze of glory due to the number of idols, fans, and women in general who have claimed this bang style as their signature look.
Curly bangs are not new, but the trend is for sure going strong especially when styled as see-through bangs. The signature look of Yuri from the separated IZ*ONE is her curly see-through bangs, personalized with 2 pigtails. In contrast, Eunha from GRIEND puts her hair up in a bun with her curly bangs. The rise of this trend could also be due to the preference of the “lazy girl method” because this style is so low maintenance.
The ‘60s style jelly perm has made it’s way back into the current trends. This hairstyle is referred to as the “hippie perm” due to its messy curls and loose structure. Idols like Blackpink’s Jisoo and Chuu from LOONA personalized this style to fit them perfectly but still makes heads turn.
The use of animated worlds and avatars has become exponentially more popular in various industries in Korea including video games, fashion, music, and more. K-pop idols have not been exempted from the influence of this rising trend and wasted no time utilizing the unique 3D representations. The rise of these animated avatars and worlds is also pointing to endless possibilities when it comes to idol-fan interactions.
League of Legends – K/DA
League of Legends broke barriers when they created K/DA, a virtual K-pop girl group. These idols are comprised of four of the game’s champions named Ahri, Akali, Evelynn, and Kai’sa. The group made waves for the first time in 2018 and in 2021, the virtual K-pop group is already being featured in the 2021 Just Dance game. The music written for the characters prioritizes the sensibility and relevance to the lore in contrast to following current music trends. This group is heavily influenced by the K-pop world which is how it has made such a huge mark and why K-pop idols began to follow suit.
The Virtual æspa
The rise of digital versions of idols has now transformed into the rise of artificially intelligent (A.I.) virtual idols. The newest group formed by SM Entertainment isæspa. This is a group made up of four idols and their four virtual counterparts.
This experimental group is meant to determine if virtual counterparts could take on work from idols, providing necessary breaks. It is also meant to see if the connection and engagement between the group and fans can be increased by these virtual versions of the idols. While they are artificial intelligence, the virtual idols are still considered and represented as a part of the human idol. This ties into the big picture idea of there being two versions of everyone – the real-life version and the virtual version.
The rise of Tiktok has broadcasted trends across the globe – one of them being the e-girl curtain highlights. This ‘90s hairstyle broke the internet and K-pop stars were not afraid to follow the lead! Blackpink’s Jennie played a big part as a trendsetter for this trend and idols like Joy of Red Velvet followed suit, putting their on personalization on the style. The color contrast of this trend demonstrates the shocking, contemporary style of today.
Once again, Korean makeup has set the standard for global beauty trends. This style has elevated from simple glitter to chunkier glitter, pearls, and rhinestones in the past year. This practice highlights the undereye in contrast to the normal practice of highlighting the inner corner of the eye. Stray Kids’ Felix and Dahyun from TWICE have proven females and males alike can successfully sport this campy, eccentric look.
Sun-Kissed Blush and Rosey Noses
A favorite makeup look of K-pop stars and fans alike has become the flushed or sun-kissed look. Instead of just blending your blush onto your cheeks, idols and Korean makeup artists blend it all over the nose, under the lower lash line, and over the eyelids. Burnt orange blush has also become a popular trend with idols preferring an intense, sun-kissed look.
Platforms like Twitter are the reason K-pop has the ability to spread across the globe and it is a huge reason why the popular genre was able to grow to its size. Twitter Korea attributes the reviving of the platform was largely due to the rise of K-pop traffic on the app. According to data from Twitter, BTS was the sixth most tweeted about K-pop accounts worldwide for almost the fifth year in a row. In 2021, K-pop twitter will continue to go strong and dominate the platform with BTS edits and idol fan accounts.
K-pop has dominated Tiktok and influenced the platform’s trends at the same time and with ease. Fan edits of idols fill the for you pages as users create magical, aesthetically pleasing clips of their bias. “Sorry I am an anti-romantic” has rang through our iPhone speakers since Tomorrow x Together has released it and will most likely dominate the sound board for the rest of 2021. Much like twitter, K-pop idols and fans will continue to have a stronghold on Tiktok.
Many K-pop groups did not just use social media to stay in touch with their fans during the pandemic; idols also played a big part in social justice movements. BTS made a $1 million donation to the Black Lives Matter movement which encouraged their fans to a fundraising campaign to match that donation. K-pop fans are able to mobilize and influence with ease so it should come to no surprise that the global fanbase is able to make waves in the political scene with only dominating hashtags and blasting fundraising posts.
K-pop and Korean styles continue to influence the globe’s trends. If they are not influencing the trend, they are dominating it. While the trends of jelly perms and undereye bling may be temporary, activism, cheetah print, and embracing your culture will never go out of style.