As fashion brands expand to new channels and shift from traditional marketing strategies, women continue to thrive and shape the fashion industry. With Korean stars conquering the international markets, it’s become increasingly common to find these multi-talented celebrities at the forefront of the fashion scene. Below is a list of Korean women who have become some of the most influential powers in their homeland and now are heading to change the global fashion landscape.
One of the most dynamic entertainers, CL has rocked the fashion world since her debut. The multifaceted rapper—and former member of 2NE1—is good friends with Moschino’s Creative Director, Jeremy Scott, collects vintage Chanel, and starred in Beyoncé’s Ivy Park video for her collaboration with Adidas. L’OFFICIEL USA has called her a “fashion chameleon” for her eccentric style, fitting in almost every atmosphere. And last year, she became the first female K-pop idol, alongside Blackpink’s Rosè, to walk the MET Gala’s red carpet—one of the most important annual events in the fashion calendar. Most recently, CL was featured in the Vogue series “7 Days, 7 Looks,” where she showcased her “Alpha” character. With a resumé as extensive, it’s safe to state that the 30-year-old has broken every barrier and made a name for herself in fashion.
Formerly a member of JYP’s girl group, Miss A, Bae Suzy rose through the idol industry’s ranks to become South Korea’s Sweetheart. Now a seasoned actress, Suzy is one of the most popular female stars in her country. However, with 17 million followers on Instagram, her influence goes far beyond the small screen. The talented star flaunts a long-time association with the French fashion brand, Dior, serving as the official brand ambassador in Korea. In her role, the megastar has proven her commercial power by introducing several items that the general public has associated to her name. For instance, when the actress showed the contents of her bag in a video for Vogue Korea, “the Suzy wallet” trended in all searches, with people rushing to buy Dior’s Saddle Lotus Wallet. In addition, Suzy, who is known as the “CF Queen,” represents brands like GUESS and Lancôme.
Jung Hoyeon has been a household name in fashion ever since her debut in 2016. It was in October 2021, however, that the young superstar cemented her as a Fashion Favorite. Looking regal in an elegant white ensemble, Hoyeon was introduced as Louis Vuitton’s Global Ambassador via Instagram. The artistic director of women’s collections, Nicolas Ghesquière said, “I immediately fell in love with Hoyeon’s great talent and fantastic personality, and I am looking forward to starting this new chapter of the journey we started at Louis Vuitton a few years ago.” In addition to representing one of the most desirable fashion brands of our times, Hoyeon is also the first Korean woman to appear solo on the cover of Vogue, yet another title backing her status as a fashion trailblazer.
Shin Min Ah
For fans of K-dramas, Shin Min Ah might be a household name in the acting department. After all, in her most recent role as the leading lady of the Netflix hit, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021), the actress made a stellar return to the small screen. The star, however, started her career as a model in 1998 and has become one of the most recognizable faces of luxury in South Korea. While her appointment as Global Ambassador of Gucci is her latest triumph, Shin Min Ah has serious fashion history to her credit. In 2012, she became the first Korean actress to be featured on Vogue’s IT-Girl column. The feat was even more special as it turned her into the first Korean actress to appear on the magazine without ongoing promotions in the U.S.—it reportedly counted with the approval of Anna Wintour, herself! Throughout the years Shin Min Ah has represented Cartier, Chanel Beauty, Roger Vivier, and Calvin Klein—among others. In 2021, the Fashion Icon also was appointed brand ambassador of Givenchy Beauty, proving her selling power and popularity among luxury brands.
Although widely known for her phenomenal acting, Jun Ji-hyun is no stranger to the fashion world. The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016) star began her career as a model on the pages of École magazine. In addition, the actress also holds the title as the first Korean actress to appear in the glossy pages of Vogue. Behind the lens was the renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz. The actress is also responsible for selling out lipsticks globally, specifically YSL Beauty’s Rouge Pur Couture in No. 52 Rosy Coral. In her recent fashion exploits, Jun Ji-hyun often graces the feed of the British luxury brand Alexander McQueen as their first-ever Korean ambassador.
Figure skater and Olympic medalist, Kim Yuna, secured her place in history in 2010 when she earned the highest-ever score granted in her sport. Despite her official retirement in 2014, “Queen Yuna” continues to be a positive role model for women around the world. Praised for her unbeatable grace, in recent years the athlete has turned to the world of fashion. By the hand of the French luxury brand Dior, Kim Yuna has dipped her toes into modeling. So far, she’s joined forces with a group of remarkable women for the Dior Stands With Women Series and has represented the Dior beauty and haute joaillerie lines in Korea. Though 2022 is just starting, Kim Yuna has already made her mark fronting Dior Vibe’s newest campaign alongside other accomplished sportswomen.
HyunA’s exuberant style is guaranteed to turn heads, which makes her the perfect ambassador for the Spanish luxury brand, LOEWE. Much like the musical phenomenon that the singer is, the label exudes energy and quirkiness. In July, the fashion house officially announced the partnership between the two creative parties, crowning HyunA as a Global Ambassador. But beyond her brand deal, HyunA often makes headlines with her eclectic style that continues to evolve over the years. For instance, on the music video of “I’m Not Cool”, the star showed off her moves in a Crystal Butterfly top by Area—a brand adored by fashionistas—further securing her place as a consummate trendsetter.
There is no denying the immense power and popularity BLACKPINK boasts. Living up to the well-deserved title of the “Biggest Girl Group In the World,” the foursome’s fashion credentials are as varied as their impressive music records. Ambassadorships, magazine covers, and global campaigns are just some of them. With long-established relations with legacy French maisons—that is Dior, Chanel, Saint Laurent, and CELINE—Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa’s “IT-Girls” status is indisputable. Past their beauty, the women of BLACKPINK are a commercial force to be reckoned with. Last September, during Paris Fashion Week, Dior’s accumulated work with Jisoo reached $10.9 million of Media Impact Value, while Rosé’s video for Vogue amassed $367 thousand on its own. In the meantime, Lisa made her runway debut with CELINE, and Jennie fronted two Chanel global campaigns. On top of their commercial partnerships, the superstars have consolidated their role as modern-day muses with their endless connections to fashion creatives of the likes of Hedi Slimane, Anthony Vacarello, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Virginie Viard, and Simon Porte Jacquemus. And, let’s not forget about the role these fashion-savvy women have played in introducing new fashion creatives to the world.
Despite being one of the youngest groups in K-pop, aespa has broken several records. Just three months after their debut, the four member group was appointed brand ambassadors to the french luxury fashion house, Givenchy. The girls showcased their immense power as soon as they were crowned the title. The Instagram post that introduced the partnership garnered over 142,656 likes, which is 820% more than the brand’s average engagement. NINGNING, GISELLE, KARINA, WINTER “overwhelmed” the Creative Director of the brand, Matthew Williams, with their energy. What is more astonishing is that unlike usual brand deals, the entire band was appointed as ambassador. In line with their commercial deal the girls are also profoundly interested in fashion. In an interview with Dazed, member NINGNING revealed her childhood dream of being a fashion designer, with the legendary fashion mogul Karl Largerfeld as her inspiration.
Kim Doyeon made her debut in the K-pop girl group I.O.I when she was only 17 years old, but she surely made an immediate impression in the world of fashion. Featured on Vogue’s “8 Teen Style Stars Set to Rule 2017,” the singer was off to a remarkable career kickstart. In a short span of time, she joined an elite crop of new generation idols known for their model-like features and impeccable style. Among her peers, however, Doyeon’s relaxed and relatable approach to fashion sets her apart. Now a member of Weki Meki and up-and-coming actress, Doyeon has served as the official brand ambassador of Maybelline, has been selected as a “Beauty Icon” by Vogue Korea, and is a regular at fashion events. Just to name a few, in 2021 Doyeon was invited to the digital collection unveiling of brands like Fendi, Max Mara, and Miu Miu. Additionally, the young star has endorsed several labels including Burberry, Prada, Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, and Mulberry. In her latest addition to her resumé, the young artist was tapped by Bobbi Brown Korea for the “Powerful Alone, Better Together” campaign. Undoubtedly, a rising star!
It is general knowledge that Korean stars bring in huge traffic with their commercial partnerships, making them highly profitable in the world of luxury. As reported by WWD, these celebrities have become some of the “most universally effective influencers.” As high-end brands continue to tap into South Korea and the Asian region’s purchasing power and aim to attract a younger market segment, these artists are certainly set to take over the fashion world, one brand deal at a time.
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