NewJeans may not have celebrated their first birthday yet, but the South Korean quintet behind the hit songs “Attention” and “Hype Boy” have become a household name in fashion circles.
Just in March, NewJeans members Minji, Hanni, Daniele, Haerin and Hein, all still in their teens, signed a global ambassadorship with Levi’s and appeared in an American photo shoot. Vogue:, and were appointed ambassadors of Seoul Fashion Week. Hanni represents Gucci and Armani Beauty, Hein works with Louis Vuitton, Daniel is selected by Burberry and YSL Beauty, while Minji is Chanel’s ambassador across three divisions: fashion, beauty, watches and jewelry .
These luxury brands expect big returns from hallyu fans or fans of Korean music, movies and TV shows. Their number topped 178 million last year, according to a report by the Korea Foundation, which is affiliated with South Korea’s foreign ministry, up from 156 million in 2021 and nearly 20 times the number of fans 11 years ago. Data from social media analytics agency LaunchMetrics shows that K-Pop stars are regularly some of the leaders in brand engagement and subsequently revenue. When Cartier announced Blackpink’s Jisoo as a brand ambassador, for example, the post generated $3 million in media value for the brand, and when BTS wore Louis Vuitton to the 2022 Grammy Awards, the look was rated 6 $4 million.
Brands have many options. NewJeans is one of more than a dozen acts launched last year, including IVE, Mimiirose, Fifty Fifty and Le Sserafim. All are looking to fill the void left by BTS, which has temporarily disbanded while its members undergo mandatory military service. Meanwhile, top acts like Blackpink and Twice are embarking on world tours as the live event calendar returns to its pre-pandemic form.
But because of their softer, tailored look, NewJeans have benefited from the fashion industry’s recent turn to relaxed luxury. The name NewJeans was chosen because it alludes to jeans being a timeless fashion staple, as well as a double claim to ‘new genes’, indicating their intention to herald a new generation of K-Pop. In short, NewJeans are the performers brands can use as a refreshing alternative.
Why chic loves the new jeans
While their meteoric rise is similar to Blackpink, and both acts are multi-member girl groups (NewJeans has five members to Blackpink’s four), that’s basically where the similarities end. In terms of aesthetic and musical appeal, NewJeans have been carving their own path with girl-next-door looks and sweet pop tunes since their debut last July.
Instead of high-octane makeup and outfits, the girls are styled as innocent and mostly natural. In the videos for both “Ditto” and “Cookie” they wear school uniforms, while in “OMG” they dance with stuffed toy animal backpacks.
The sets for each of their music videos are also relatively simple, such as a sports field or a studio with a bench as the only props. This is in contrast to the cheesy, heavily saturated and CGI effects-filled music videos that have been more dominant in K-Pop girl groups.
That choice may be due to the youth of the group members. The oldest, Minji, is only 18, while Hein is only 14. The cute styles also extend to their devoted fan base on their Phone app and YouTube channel, where they put out content that could double as a children’s TV show. In various 30-minute videos, they play shop, have a pajama party, and visit a farm, for example.
Who are their fans?
Brands and events are lining up to take advantage of their growing following, with fans calling themselves “Bunnies” or “tokki” in reference to the cartoon bunny on the NewJeans album cover.
Seoul Fashion Week named the group as 2023 ambassadors, replacing “Squid Game” actor Lee Jung-jae. Organizers pointed out “their everyday fashion and stage outfits [which] to show this naturalness and edgy charm in a bright and friendly way,” and coordinated for the group to promote local designers Ulkin, Ajobiajo and Blr Bluer during the event.
But as important as their domestic market is (South Korea over-indexes sales of luxury goods relative to its population), the girls’ international appeal stands out. Musinsa, a leading e-commerce platform that specializes in selling South Korean fashion overseas, signed the group as an ambassador in October.
The company, which owns 300 brands such as Thisisneverthat and Mardi Mercredi, said in a statement that it expects the group to “create a new wave of K-fashion” and that they will be “perfect as a K-icon to promote Korean fashion. brands to the world.”
Musinsa plans to use the campaigns with NewJeans to market in Japan, Southeast Asia, the US and – using two of the girls, Danielle and Hanni, who grew up there – in Australia.
In a pairing that seemed destined to happen, NewJeans signed on as global ambassadors for Levi’s in mid-March. The denim brand called it a “natural collaboration” thanks to “the group’s desire to be as timeless to culture as jeans are to fashion.”
Later that month, the group appeared in a photo shoot with the American publication Vogue:shot by photographer Cho Gi-seok.
As Cho also wears another hat as the founder of LVMH Award-nominated fashion label Kusikohc, her brand has seen a surge in social media followers since Vogue: take a photo
Laurence von Mohl, who heads Kusikohc’s international business development, says Asian pop stars tend to cultivate much more intense fan bases in the West and are more willing to spend money to support their idols, even irrationally. It’s not uncommon for a single fan to buy 100 copies of an album to ensure their favorite artist breaks industry records.
“The following is crazy,” von Mohl said. “If you’re going big [fashion] shows Chanel, Dior or not, there are screams when the K-Pop stars come out, you can barely hear your own voice, and not when a Western star runs down the carpet.”
So far, Blackpink is still a rarity in the K-Pop world in that it has managed to capture mass Western mainstream awareness. The band is set to solidify that when they headline Coachella later this month. They were the first K-Pop group to perform there back in 2019, which was hailed as a great feat at the time. Much of the focus will be on them with new tour dates and new solo music from Blackpink member Jisoo, who had two singles on the top Korean music charts over the weekend.
There is also other competition from newer acts. Fifty Fifty, another K-Pop girl group, became the fastest K-Pop group to break into the US Billboard Hot 100 chart with their song “Cupid,” and IVE’s music label announced that it was set to begin marketing the group. in the USA. IVE member Eugene, for example, has taken on an ambassador role with Fendi.
But NewJeans will already be touring globally at a major US festival in their first full summer season. They’re set to take the stage at Chicago’s Lollapalooza, compared to the three years it took Blackpink to headline Coachella, positioning them well to claim a growing share of the lucrative fashion endorsement market.