Discover the K-pop It boy fashion and the must-know idols who showcase experimental style while breaking gender stereotypes.
We’ve all heard about the Hallyu or ‘Korean Wave’, the movement taking over the world. Of course, K-pop is one of the most popular music genres right now among Gen-Z. The influence of Korean culture extends to more than just music; we see several Korean trends popping up in many aspects like food, fashion, TV dramas, etc. The influence on society is so huge that we have Suho, Exo’s leader, giving a representative speech at Stanford for their new course – ‘Korean Studies’.
A particular aspect of the industry that intrigues me the most is the ‘K-pop It boy Fashion.’ The K-pop industry as a whole is indeed pretty experimental with fashion. But, what these ‘It boys’ bring to the table is even more exciting and has widened my fashion perspective, making it an interesting rabbit hole to dive in.
What is K-pop It-Fashion and Who are the “It Boys”?
To carry it hot and fresh from the Korean media, an ‘It boy’ essentially refers to an idol who stands out. Several reasons for this label include visuals, skills, stage presence, and other qualities. While this list endlessly grows, today we’ll be exploring the fashion aspect of these idols – since it plays a massive role.
The K-pop It Boy Fashion
The standards and the viewpoint for the title “It boy” have transformed over the four generations; therefore, rigidly defining the It Boy style is quite impractical. However, we do find some commonalities in these idols and how they choose to represent themselves.
There is a strong sense of experimentalism in their fashion, which sets them apart from the styles we see in the west. The unique color palette that they work with, the bold hair shades, the gender-bending fashion choices, and accessories indeed make strong statements.
Moreover, we also see the sincerity in their interaction with fashion, making their casual street style and airport fashion effortlessly impressive.
Let’s look at some of these experimental idols and their unique fashion stance that has captivated people in the various K-pop generations.
Yeonjun from Tomorrow X Together (4th Generation) – The 4th Gen K-pop It Boy
Debuted not too long ago (2019), Yeonjun has already established himself as ‘The 4th gen K-pop It boy’ (Paper Magazine). Proudly bearing this heavy title recognized by the Korean media speaks volumes of the impact he’s had. He definitely is as an important figure when discussing the K-pop It boy fashion.
Though the reasons for his popularity can range vastly: his bright personality, unique vocals, and captivating stage presence, his fashion has become a factor that is much discussed by his fans. Being a part of those idols who take fashion sincerely, his passion for the same is recognized by many reputable fashion organizations.
The idol recently became the new brand ambassador of Prive Alliance and represented reputable brands like Burberry, Celine, and Dior. He has participated in the 2021 Fashion Week’s Fall/Winter collection by ULKIN and made it to the cover of Elle Magazine Korea.
But where we get to authentically see the true essence of the idol’s style would be the airport. It has grown so much that it is a separate sector in Korea’s fashion. A place where these idols choose how to present themselves and expose their level of interest in casual fashion. Yeonjun is much talked about under this particular category, for he takes a creative approach even with his everyday outfits. Recently, his butterfly boots caught the attention of his fans.
Moreover, his style in music videos and stage performances (Check out Blue Hour and Loser=Lover fancams) is pretty known for bold choices and how he wears them confidently. His bright hair colors, crop tops, explorative makeup, and diverse wardrobe earns him his title, ‘The 4th Gen K-pop It boy’.
Hyunjin from Stray Kids (4th Generation)
Hwang Hyunjin, the visual of the boy group ‘Stray Kids,’ has drastically grown and evolved his style over his three years in the industry. Though his fashion might have been classified as ‘basic’ in his debut days, we can see how the idol has adopted a severe take and developed it into a definite shape over the years.
He’s one of the few idols who have explored experimental style with his long hair, dashing hair shades, and a unique combination of accessories and clothes. His remarkable hold on his fans, for sure, comes from his impressive performances, charming personality, and rap. But his fashion makes a louder stance as it is more diverse than many other idols. He isn’t afraid to make bold fashion choices which we see through his bright red hair, westernized hanboks, and edgy suits.
Bench, a Filipino clothing brand, recognized his intriguing fashion sense, making him their global fashion ambassador. He has also represented Etro in their campaigns along with Lee Know and Felix (Danceracha). And these are just a few examples of the loud significance he has in the K-pop It boy fashion scene.
Having already discussed the importance of airport fashion, we must talk about Hyunjin’s. His fashion at the airport has seldom been predictable. He has always brought something new to the table and has impressed many. Even during his hiatus in 2021, his influence never died, and his fancams only increased.
Jimin from BTS (3rd Generation) – The It Boy of K-pop
We can’t talk about It boys without talking about THE It boy of K-pop: Park Jimin. The title officially given to him by the K-media states him as the It boy that stands out over the pan of all 4 K-pop generations. Being the 3rd most searched K-pop idol ever, his influence is so widespread that even people who aren’t into K-pop have at least heard his name.
The now ambassador of Louis Vuitton has been experimental with his fashion right from his debut days. Well-known for his feminine dimensions, he has never been afraid to express it boldly. Over the years, we can see him coming out of the chauvinistic shell to speak his actual shades, a blend of feminine and masculine, more confidently.
He was one of the first few idols who proudly incorporated feminine tones into his fashion, striking clothing palette, unique hair colors, and shiny jewelry with a multi-dimensional wardrobe. The elegance we note in his personality, body language, dance, and voice are smoothly carried over to his fashion. We can say that he has done a great job expressing himself through his style. In many ways, we can consider him as the primitive point of the K-pop It boy fashion genre.
Moreover, he is also one of the few idols who explore tattoos. Though Korean culture tends to stray away from them, we can see the sincerity and importance he gives to expressing himself through external factors, making his fashion quite impressive and intriguing.
Kai from Exo (3rd Generation)
Kim Jongin, also known as Kai – the idol of idols, as labeled by the K-media, really proves this title in multiple aspects. His mesmerizing stage presence, captivating performances, and warm vocals have made him popular among many. His talents come in many dimensions, and he attempts multiple ways to express himself, one of which is his unique and bold sense of fashion.
Many reputable fashion brands have recognized him for his model physique and the way he neatly carries himself. He is known to radiate a sense of power and boldness with his apparel choices which never fails to leave his fans in awe. An example is his famous red suit during the ‘Love Shot’ stage. This particular fancam blew up and gained him much popularity.
His style might come across as nothing too different, but if we look closer, we understand that not everyone can pull off his outfits. We can spot Kai in many fashion shows, featuring on multiple magazine covers and fashion ads. His fashion is one of the most respected and appreciated styles in the K-pop It boy fashion spectrum.
Knowing that Gucci is one of the top fashion brands in the world, Kai representing them in their campaigns, shows, and ads speaks volumes about his fashion game.
Not to forget his airport fashion, we don’t just notice how much he has transformed his style but also how explorative he is with presenting himself. Unafraid to try out new fashion concepts, he has set the bar for fashion among the male idols of his generation.
G-Dragon from Big Bang (2nd Generation)
Kwon Ji Wong has always been a colossal figure in Korea’s fashion industry, being one of the first experimental idols of K-pop. Particularly popular for his street style fashion, he has also shown his luxurious styles in reputable magazines like Vogue, NY Magazine, and TFL.
The sincerity with which he approaches fashion is undoubtedly on another scale. He has been invited to many fashion shows held by Chanel, Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Rick Owen, and Hood by Air, taking up seats in the first row.
Featuring in several fashion magazines, his influence expands much across the boundaries of Korea. He’s a deeply respected fashion personnel and has gained massive credibility in the fashion industry, mainly for the exposure he’s represented for the Korean industry.
BOF notes that when Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel, included G-dragon in a group photo for his couture show, it not only elevated the idol’s image as an ‘It boy’ but also helped the K-pop It boy fashion gain more attention.
Though he was late to the fashion game, his intriguing and experimental fashion approach soon attracted many fans. He has showcased many bold cross-dressing styles and explored bold, bright, and daring clothing and accessories, truly establishing himself in the field as one of the few idols with an intense fashion interaction.
Rain (1st Generation) – The All-rounder K-pop It Boy
Last but definitely not least, we have Rain (Jeong Ji Hoon), an extremely significant figure in the Korean Industry. Surviving for over 22 years in the field, but his impact and influence have not declined yet.
The singer of the evergreen song, ‘Rainism’ – cherished by multiple idols till now, the main lead of the famous K-drama, ‘Full House,’ extends his charms in the fashion field too.
Even in his 40s, his fashion game stands strong, showcasing him as a person with a simple yet elegant style. His Instagram displays his experimental dimensions for fashion. He gives a unique and creative edge to even the simplest outfits, naturally uplifting his wardrobe.
He’s been the face of many fashion lines like Luxuo and Levi Strauss Korea and featured in reputable magazines like Rolling Stones, Harper’s Bazaar, and many more.
Being an all-rounder idol, he is forever growing fan base with his dimensional personality and set the bar of everlasting impact right from the 1st gen.
Of course, these idols aren’t under no strict classification as It boys since the title can accommodate a variety of idols. We also can’t end our dive without naming some honorable mentions.
Other idols of honorable mention as It boys are – San from Ateez, Jackson Wang from GOT7, Cha Eun Woo from Astro, Haechan from NCT, Taemin from Shinee, Niki from Enhypen, and Haruto Watanabe from Treasure.
Looking to explore more K-pop fashion? Check out our article here! Let us know your favorite It boy and the looks that caught your attention the most in the comments below!
Aishwarya Sai S. is Fashion Journalist at ShilpaAhuja.com. She’s a Chennai-based writer who just graduated from Stella Maris College with her Bachelor’s degree, majoring in English and Communication Skills. She’s passionate about art, fashion, music, and literature; and loves to endlessly scroll through creative platforms that both inspire her and allow her to artistically express herself. Enjoying leadership roles and craving an active participation in the society, she’s constantly searching for new experiences.