The K Factor: how Korean culture took over the world

Named Hallyu, this long new wave has overwhelmed us in every cultural sphere.
From K-pop to k-dramas or k-beauty, everybody has had some sort of connection to this trend. High fashion included.


By Anabella Pacheco and Maria Fernanda Perez. Cover Image: Margaret Mitchem for I’M Firenze Digest.

We have all witnessed the boom of Korean culture in recent years. Particularly in the entertainment and fashion industries, there is no denying the rise of Korean culture within mainstream media.
The attention gained by Korean music and shows like Inkigayo, previously known as SBS Popular Song, tv series like Squid Game, and movies – from Oscar-winning Parasite by Bong Joon-ho to Ballerina, directed by Chung-Hyun Lee – has subsequently generated a growing interest in Korean fashion and beauty products, as well.
Can the reason be found in the exotic fascination for an alternative Asian aesthetic, within traditions and visions, as a new inspo beyond the familiar Japanese and Chinese ones?
Yes, indeed. As a result, plenty of fashion brands have incorporated Korean elements into their designs and marketing strategies, expanding their presence (and markets) to new lands.

From K-pop music to luxury fashion

During the Fall Winter 2023-24 fashion month, we witnessed some of the biggest names in luxury fashion appointing several Korean celebrities. And now the Hallyu wave is expanding at lightning speed. Members of the most worldwide K-pop band like BTS have been caught in the act of ambassadors and guests like Jimin for Dior and Tiffany &Co., SUGA at Valentino and RM at Bottega Veneta.

These names were accompanied by the respective marketing campaigns and attendance at the brands’ fashion shows. Prada was no different: the front row at their Milan FW 23-24 menswear show was crowded with Enhypen members, another hit K-pop band that has become famous in the Western market thanks to their TikTok and Instagram content. Countless Korean celebrities have already been luxury brand ambassadors for many years.

To name a few: actor Hyun Bin has been the ambassador for Loro Piana, Danielle of NewJeans for Burberry, actor Park Bogum for Celine; Jisoo from BLACKPINK has been chosen as the new face of Cartier and Dior, while Squid Games star Lee Jung-Jae has been announced as Gucci’s brand ambassador. In a very short time, they have all helped to raise the Hallyu, or the Korean Wave fever, whose influence on mainstream culture and fashion is undeniable. We are excited to see what’s next.

© Margaret Mitchem, 2023

Anabella C. Pacheco and Maria Fernanda Perez are Fashion Business and Digital Marketing students at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
Margaret Mitchem is a Multimedia Arts student at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

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