5 Biggest Fashion Trends of 2020 K-Pop

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The wonderful world of K-pop is always filled to the brim with the most fantastical music videos. In those videos, the upbeat tempos of the songs and dance moves are highlighted with equally striking outfits.

While I ponder and write over my favorite K-pop idol’s personal style over at Style Files, this time around, I’ve compiled a shortlist of the five biggest fashion trends that have graced MVs this year. From girl groups, boy groups to solos, I’ve compiled them all along with pieces to cop!

Utilitarian: Thanks, It Has Pockets

1 Utilitarian Banner - Moon Byul Baekhyun Hyolyn illustration final

Left to right:  Mamamoo’s Moonbyul in the Eclipse MV, SuperM’s Baekhyun in the 100 MV, Hyolyn in the SAY MY NAME MV

Many say fashion and functionality don’t go hand in hand. Utilitarian style scoffs at that notion. Inspired by the ultra-functionality of military wear and menswear, this trend has surged on the runway, building on streetwear’s recent boom in the past few years.

In the K-pop world, utilitarian wear is having its moment as new kids on the block like Stray Kids and AleXa have been donning this style since debut. The busy and boxy silhouettes perfectly align with the heavy beats and fast-paced tempos of their music.

From cargo pants with countless roomy pockets to belt bags and chest rigs, the utilitarian trend is in sync with the on-the-go generation. Try the look with easy-to-style cargo pants or take the extra jump with cargo vests!

Try the trend:

 

Cowboy Glam: I Got The Horses Glitter In The Back

Cowboy Glam - Ryujin Jiho JooE illustration

Left to right: ITZY’s Ryujin in the Not Shy MV, OH MY GIRL’s Jiho in the Nonstop MV, Momoland’s JooE in the Thumbs Up MV

Cowboy boots have been making a resurgence since last year, and they’ve gotten a funky makeover from the usual neutral shades. In 2020, the cowboy look is embellished with glitters, sequins, pearls and rhinestones. The retro vibe is in line with the obsession for throwback looks, while the shiny details fall right into the maximalist e-girl trend that’s also on the rise!

From Lee Hyori’s full cowboy look complete with hat, boots and chaps in Refund Sisters’ Don’t Touch Me music video, to the hot pink cowboy boots in Momoland’s Thumbs Up, this trend is easy to dress up or dress down.

It might seem a bit hard to saddle up and try this look, but you can take it slow by switching your go-to winter combat boots for cowboy boots. Or add a bit of movement to your silhouette with a fringed piece.

Try the trend:

Disco Fever: That 70s Look

3 Disco Fever - Solar Taehyung SinB Illustration

Left to right: Mamamoo’s Solar in the Dingga MV, BTS’s V in the Dynamite MV,  GFRIEND’s SinB in the MAGO MV

The motto for K-pop seems to be “go hard or go home.” In line with the glitz and glam of the cowboy trend, the disco look is back and as extra as ever. Fueled by the excess of fashion powerhouses like Gucci and Versace, our fave idols trotted around in rhinestone-encrusted pieces and exaggerated silhouettes.

Though it’s not shocking to see retro queen Sunmi and OG K-pop singer JYP turn to disco, other stars caught the fever as well. From BTS member V’s billowy bell bottoms to Somi’s head-to-toe silver glittery ensemble, this year’s disco-inspired sartorial choices made my maximalist heart soar!

Go low-key disco with corduroy bell bottoms, or fully embrace the disco life with rhinestone-encrusted jewelry and chunky platform heels.

Try the trend:

Cottagecore: Dreaming Of Simpler Times

4 Cottagecore - Taeyeon Jeongyun Sejeong illustration final

Left to right: Taeyeon in the Happy MV, Twice’s Jeongyeon in the MORE & MORE MV, Gugudan’s Sejeong in the Plant MV

Due to the pandemic, we’ve all stayed indoors for extended periods of time and it’s left us yearning for open fields. Cottagecore is a new trend born from our longing to disconnect from the fast-paced hubbub of modern life and retreat to nature and rural life, albeit through a romanticized lens.

I’m not surprised to see cottagecore in K-pop music videos this year. Long before the trend had a name, many idols donned this soft, floral aesthetic. The look was showcased often in this year’s spring and summer comebacks, from Taeyeon’s coral-colored dress in the Happy MV to Twice’s delicate dresses in the MORE & MORE MV.

Loose-fitting dresses with gathered waistlines and romantic midi lengths are perfect for frolicking in the grass or a picnic in the meadows. Trends like floral patterns and bulbous sleeves and skirts will definitely carry well into the S/S season next year. When accessorized with straw hats and bags, the soft, whimsical cottagecore look makes us long for the comfort of simpler times.  

Try the trend:

 

All White, All White, All White

5 All White - minnie Chung Ha Hwasa illustration

Left to right: (G)I-DLE’s Minnie in the Oh my god MV, Chung Ha in the Stay Tonight MV, Mamamoo’s Hwasa in the LMM MV

Monochrome looks are minimal effort with maximum impact. All-white looks aren’t new in K-pop music videos but it’s one of the biggest trends this year. The crisp clean color contrasts perfectly against dark and dramatic backdrops, as seen in Lee Hi’s music video HOLO and in BlackPink’s frozen tundra set in How You Like That.

With this look, it’s easy to play with textures and details, and still come off with incredibly polished results. The style also blends well with other trends, like Hwasa’s off-white dress with cottagecore touches in her LMM music video and Jisoo’s all-white look with utilitarian elements in How You Like That.

Try the trend:

From the hardcore functionality of utilitarian wear to the soft, billowy silhouettes of cottagecore, K-pop has given us some colorful styles this year, as well as much needed escapism.

Which trends are your favorites?

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