With the world (including India. Cheers!) gradually opening it’s eyes to the existence of homosexuality, we might as well look back in time and realize how much KPop has been adapting to this ‘tabooed’ way of life. From the iconic ‘guy-liner’ prominent in the 90s to male idols sporting skirts and crop tops, the realm of KPop has definitely shaped our mentality for the better. While we were merely enjoying some catchy music and mind-boggling choreography coupled with some aesthetically stunning music videos, we became more sensitive towards the LGBTQ communities and more accepting of their love. While the herculean task of ‘normalizing’ the LGBTQ ways by promoting gender fluidity was mainly through make-up in the past, with the advent of the dewy, peachy make-up, this job has been shifted to the outfits. Starting from Jo Kwon, GDragon, Amber, Ren, the list continues to newer groups like A.C.E. promoting their comebacks rocking hot pants and crop tops. It is safe to say that K-Fashion, currently, is at its pinnacle when it comes to experimenting. Contrary to the conservative customs and lifestyle in South Korea, K-Pop is a breath of fresh air with its progressiveness.
Let’s take a look at some of the classic fashion statements donned by our unconventional KPop idols:
Jo Kwon (2 AM): Speaking of cross dressing, one cannot forget Jo Kwon’s drag performances to songs by Beyonce and Sia. His first solo performance, ‘Animal’ left our jaws dropped to the floor as he danced his way to glory with smokey eyes, a sleek hairdo, a unique outfit and killer heels. Although he has never claimed anything about his sexuality, he makes sure he is never brought down by negative, homophobic comments on his SNS accounts. Quoting Lady Gaga, Jo Kwon struts past his haters with his head held high for being ‘Born this way’!
GDragon (Big Bang): The king of bizarre fashion had managed to raise a few eyebrows by incorporating headbands, tank tops, nail paints, lipsticks, etc. into his looks but he gauged out our eyeballs in his ‘Crayon’ mv. GD went all out and about, outshining his female contemporaries in a black dress and skeleton hairclips tucked onto his blonde wig. Moreover, in many instances, GD has been spotted rocking pieces worn by other female idols and celebrities from the West, we definitely give a plus 10 for never failing to amaze us with his fashion choices!
Lee Hong Ki (FT Island): The main vocalist of the pioneers of mainstream artists with a band concept (the predecessors of our beloved but underrated bands like CN Blue, Day 6, The Rose, etc.) has never shied away from his passion for nail art. Initially, he accepts that he did feel hesitant about how people would perceive his decorated nails. However, as time went by, Hong Ki realized that he was too mesmerized by his glittering nails to worry about petty haters and even went ahead to publish ‘Lee Hong Ki Nail Book’. Now, his manicured nails have become a part of him and add on to his visual charm. Who does not love pretty nails ?
Amber (f(x)): In the history of KPop, Amber Liu is the torch bearer of androgynous fashion. Being styled in ‘typically’ boyish clothes and short hair for MVs, Amber has managed to make a mark in an industry which thinks twice before breathing. Not just in MVs, Amber’s off-screen style sense is also more masculine than the rest of the female KPop idols for she chooses comfort fashion. Being more inclined towards outdoor sports, Amber grew up wearing loosely fitted, ‘boyish’ clothes and chooses to stay that way which sparks hope among the misfits in a society following rigid gender roles.
Ren (NU’EST): Choi Minki, popularly known by his stage name Ren, has sparked rumours about his sexuality since NU’EST’s debut. With ethereally delicate features, soft make-up and long hair, Ren wrecked South Korea’s views on what a boy or girl should look like. Although his feminine look was just a concept for few of their MVs, Ren encourages gender neutral fashion by modelling for skirts and dresses.
Taemin (SHINee): Flipping his long locks in ‘Lucifer’ and ‘Sherlock’ MVs, Taemin did raise speculation among the Korean audience over his effeminate ways. However, the dancing icon could not care less as he goes ahead choosing gender neutral outfits for performing his song, ‘Move’ and choreographing it in a way that it expresses emotions felt by all the sexes.
A.C.E: Presently, A.C.E. may not be well known among the masses but it is unfair to not acknowledge the outfits in their debut MV, ‘Cactus’. Not only did they blow us away with their synchronized dancing and powerful vocals, they managed to leave us wigless with their hot pants. Even though hot pants are considered to be worn by women, A.C.E. definitely rocked them without missing out on their masculine charm. Unbelievable, right? Well, A.C.E. did it again in their recent release, ‘Take Me Higher’ where we find Donghun slaying in a crop top. Make way for the kings of breaking gender stereotypes, everyone!
Twice: The nation’s girl crush, Jeongyeon has charmed many with her short hairdo and ethereal visuals but in Twice’s ‘What is Love’ mv, we see her taking a step further by taking the role of Romeo and then the male lead from the Japanese box-office hit, Love Letter. Moreover, Tzuyu also imitates Ryan Gosling’s character as she dances with Momo. The director’s decision to not hire extra actors and use the members to portray male characters, in an industry which dictates strict gender roles, is worthy of praise.
Kai (EXO): By now, all of us know that Kai’s aura is such that he can work literally anything that the stylists throw at him. Whether it is a terribly distressed sweater or a cropped top, we are not even surprised seeing him comfortably bust his intricate moves wearing such outfits. However, it seems like Kai has a knack for incorporating ladies’ accessories into his off-stage looks as well. In September, Kai was spotted wearing Gucci from head to toe, complete with a women’s shoulder purse. Looking chic yet unique, Kai managed to crush some fashion clichés with his unpredictable accessorizing.
Food for thought: Is gender fluidity in KFashion and LGBTQ representation in KPop MVs (Please Don’t– K.Will, When You Love Someone– Day 6, Navillera– GFriend, All In– Monsta X, Neverland and I’m Not Afraid– Holland, etc.) actually a sign of progression in an average South Korean’s attitude or is it a cover to hide the ugly side of gender inequality? Comment your thoughts on it !