How EXO’s Kai became K-Pop’s biggest fashion influencer of 2021

2021 is the year that the manner planet really embraced K-Pop stars. BTS was named ambassadors of Louis Vuitton, Blackpink’s Lisa walked for a Celine vogue present, and her fellow associates fronted campaigns for luxurious makes like Chanel and Tiffany & Co. But no one has remaining a even larger impression than Kai, the sensational “dancing machine” of EXO.

This 12 months, Kai was the only South Korean idol in Lyst’s round-up of superstars whose manner options have resulted in the major spikes in searches and income. According to the style browsing platform, he ranked at fifth area, producing him extra influential than stars like Harry Kinds, Girl Gaga, Rihanna, and both the Biebers.

To K-Pop enthusiasts, the news may perhaps not solely arrive as a surprise. Due to the fact debuting as element of the boyband EXO, Kai has set himself apart with his charismatic stage existence, dancing competencies, and feeling of design and style. He was mentioned for his impeccably polished airport vogue, which included blazers, turtleneck sweaters and effectively-reduce trousers that suited his svelte determine. It was not prolonged before he caught the attention of Gucci, who named him as brand ambassador in 2019.

Now that Kai has just made a comeback with his 2nd solo album, Peaches, it may perhaps be effortless to ignore his design credentials in favour of his musical and effectiveness ones. Which is why we’ve highlighted some key moments in his career that solidified his rightful standing as a style icon.

5 situations Kai proved that he was the K-Pop king of style:

His initially campaign for Gucci

Gucci Eyewear F/W 2019 campaign (Photo credit: Gucci)
Gucci Eyewear F/W 2019 marketing campaign (Picture credit: Gucci)

Kai made his debut as Gucci ambassador in the Italian fashion label’s Drop/Winter 2019 eyewear marketing campaign, starring along with Chinese actress Ni Ni. The photographs, shot by American filmmaker and photographer Harmony Korine, supplied us our first glimpse of Kai as the deal with of an global luxury model. He quickly embodied Gucci’s unique, classic-influenced aesthetic as he sported the brand’s retro glasses and tailoring. He would once again be tapped by designer Alessandro Michele to front Gucci’s S/S 2020 eyewear marketing campaign, this time demonstrating off his modelling skills in a fashion movie.

His collaboration with Gucci

Kai x Gucci collection (Photo credit: Gucci)
Kai x Gucci collection (Picture credit score: Gucci)

Just after sitting down front row at runway shows and modelling for vogue strategies, Kai took things to a different degree in 2021. He teamed up with Gucci for a minimal-version capsule assortment, building him the very first Korean celebrity to ever do so. (In actuality, several other Gucci ambassadors have ever been offered the honour.) The Kai x Gucci assortment, as it was termed, revolved all around his fondness for teddy bears the childhood toy motif was stamped throughout monogrammed purses, leather items, sneakers and apparel for both adult males and gals. When the collection launched, it bought out just about immediately. According to Lyst, it also led to an maximize in searches for Gucci by 264 for every cent — proof of Kai’s world influence on manner tendencies.

Seoul Vogue 7 days

Kai ambassador of Seoul Fashion Week 2022
(Photo credit history: Seoul Style Week)

In September 2021, Kai was decided on as the ambassador of Seoul Fashion 7 days. It’s no little feat to be picked among several superstars to stand for South Korea’s most significant trend event, significantly fewer for its 21st anniversary. In a online video promoting the party, Kai remarked on his possess romance with fashion: “I use garments to convey myself. I used to only consider about how to sing or how to dance, but now that I’ve been a singer for 10 several years, I arrived to imagine about how to specific myself as an artist.”

His Gucci Aria campaign

Kai wears a red velvet suit, inspired by the iconic one designed by Tom Ford for Gwyneth Paltrow in the '90s. (Photo credit: Gucci)
Kai wears a crimson velvet accommodate, motivated by the legendary a single built by Tom Ford for Gwyneth Paltrow in the ’90s. (Photograph credit rating: Gucci)

Gucci all over again selected Kai to star in its marketing campaign — not just for eyewear, but for its Aria Slide/Winter 2021 assortment, which marked the Italian style brand’s 100th anniversary. For it, Kai was photographed among a dreamy winter season landscape sporting noteworthy models, these types of as Gwyneth Paltrow’s legendary pink velvet accommodate. He also did extra than product for the accompanying vogue movie, which showcased him executing what he does best: dancing.

His solo audio promotions

A look from Kai's Peaches album. (Photo credit: SM Entertainment)
A glance from Kai’s Peaches album. (Photo credit score: SM Leisure)

Because building his solo debut in 2020, Kai has explored this connection with style even much more. The singer plays an lively function in styling his new music videos and album principles, working along with his crew. “I go all over finding garments myself,” he mentioned. “Concept is the most critical detail. We have to think about no matter whether we want to perform it risk-free or get up a challenge.” Evidently, he’s long gone for latter. When promoting Mmmh, Kai’s outfits leaned in the direction of androgynous, and included customarily feminine parts like lace blouses and corsets. He has continued to push design and style boundaries in his Peaches era, for which he has boldly worn skirts by buzzy style brands like Peter Do. With a daring and unconventional technique to design, it’s no wonder he’s one of K-Pop largest fashion influencers.


Header photograph credit: SM Entertainment