Life of Luxury

The marriage of luxury brands and K-pop stars continues, as global luxury labels strive to solidify their strength in the important Asian market, as well as take advantage of the stars’ worldwide popularity.

For the most part, the relationships are pure brand ambassadorships, with the singers posting on social media to their vast followings, appearing on billboards and in other advertising, attending runway shows and other brand events, and serving as inspiration for (and sometimes giving advice on) designs. A few even mention their brand partners in their music. But signature products are usually not part of the mix.

The labels work primarily with a handful of the most popular K-pop acts as well as the individuals within those groups, and most have ties with more than one act or artist. Here are some of the prominent new deals just signed in January and February of this year, ahead of the global Fashion Weeks:

  • Dior named Jimin, a member of BTS, as one of its global ambassadors. It has also worked with Jisoo, a member of Blackpink, as well as other K-pop artists including Sehun of the band Exo and Cha Eun-woo of Astro, who has served as a brand ambassador across a number of labels.
  • Givenchy paired with Taeyang of Big Bang in January. The label also has worked with Aespa, a K-pop girl group, since February 2021.
  • Valentino signed Suga, who is in BTS and has a solo career, as its latest brand ambassador for the Maison Valentino Essentials brand.
  • Louis Vuitton announced Jackson Wang as its latest K-pop ambassador. Wang, who is Chinese and multilingual, gained his fame in the K-pop band Got7 and has a solo career as well. Louis Vuitton has also worked with BTS as a group and with Hyein of NewJeans.
  • Fendi paired with Yijin of IVE. The brand, like many other labels, has also had Cha Eun-woo in its portfolio of ambassadors, as well as Jackson Wang, another prolific luxury brand spokesperson.
  • Burberry enlisted Danielle, one of several members of NewJeans to have brand ambassadorships in place with luxury labels, as its latest style icon. Cha Eun-woo is also on the label’s K-pop roster.

Some of the many other luxury brand ambassadorships with K-pop artists in recent years include Chanel with G-Dragon, a member of Big Bang and other acts; Gucci with Hanni of NewJeans; and Calvin Klein, Celine, and Yves Saint Laurent with Jennie, Lisa, and Rosé, all members of Blackpink, respectively.

As noted, there are surprisingly few signature collections as part of these relationships. But there are some exceptions. Gucci released a capsule in 2021 with Kai, a member of Exo and SuperM as well as a soloist. The collection, which featured a teddy bear, the singer’s favorite childhood toy, as a motif, included leather bags, jackets, sweaters, shirts, jeans, chinos, hats, sneakers, and other ready-to-wear clothing and accessories for men and women. And Jackson Wang had a capsule collection with Fendi in 2019 before becoming the label’s brand ambassador in 2021, and now has his own Shanghai-based premium streetwear label, Team Wang, co-founded with Henry Cheung.

Ambassadorships with K-pop artists are starting to extend into the luxury labels’ beauty businesses as well. For example, Armani announced Hanni as the global ambassador for its makeup line last week.

RaugustReports will not publish this coming Monday, February 20, 2023, which is the President’s Day holiday in the U.S. We will be back to our regular Monday and Thursday schedule on February 23. Also, a heads-up that our monthly Raugust Communications e-newsletter comes out next Tuesday, February 21. The Licensing Topic of the Month will examine the potential impact on the licensing business of recent corporate layoffs, while the Datapoint research spotlight will take a look at changing distribution strategies for launches of licensed merchandise. If you are not yet a subscriber to this free publication, you can sign up here.

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