Written By: Jiya Sishodia, Edison Cheung, & Yvonne Tsao
In both Asia and America, there’s a significant rise in many similar trends. These trends range from music to food to makeup, but the most prominent of these rising trends are the rise in the popularity of Kpop, Anime, and Asian fashion.
Kpop is a phenomenon that has taken over the world in the past couple of years. It is commonly interpreted as “Korean-pop” but in fact, has many different sounds and genres within it. Some of the most well-known idol groups include Blackpink, BTS, Twice, Red Velvet, GOT7, and EXO. Events like KCON, an annual convention dedicated to the genre of music have seen huge success in the U.S. Without further ado, let us talk about the growing popularity of Kpop.
Blackpink is a 4 member group that has taken not only Asia but the western population by storm. With their official debut in 2016 under YG (one of Korea’s top 3 entertainment companies) they quickly gained popularity. Their hit lead single "DDU-DU DDU-DU” broke international barriers, garnering over 1 billion views on Youtube, currently making it the 3rd most viewed Kpop song ever! The group has won over 40 awards including the Golden Disc award and Seoul Music Award. Their comebacks constantly rank on top 100 billboard charts and even performed at Coachella 2019. Their most recent single “How You Like That” released on June 26 reached 86 million views within 24 hours on Youtube, making it the world record. The 4 girls have truly gained the attention of many, even becoming global ambassadors for brands like Chanel, Bvlgari, and Saint Laurent.
BTS, the biggest Korean boy group on the planet right now. They debuted in 2013 under a small company, Big Hit Entertainment, with their lead single “No More Dream”. The 7 member group gradually increased in popularity until in 2015, they really started to get noticed in the western world as well with their release of the albums “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt. 1 and Pt. 2”. 2015 also marked the year BT21 was created, a brand collaboration between BTS and Line Friends. Currently, they already have over 200 awards, were nominated for the 2020 Grammy Awards, and have performed at the BBMAs. The group has been featured in ads for Hyundai, Samsung, and more. Their most recent studio album “Map of The Soul: 7” sold over 4 million copies in less than 9 days, breaking the world record in South Korea for the fastest-selling album. Overall the 7 member group has made a global impact and is continuing to grow their fanbase.
Kpop fans as a community have many different ways of sharing their love for the culture together. Idol groups will often create fandom names to address their fans and supporters with appreciation and affection such as how kpop group “Monsta X” fans are called Monbebes, (meaning “My baby” in French). Kpop fans also purchase albums and other merchandise from their favorite groups, which include photobooks, photocards, stickers, posters and more. People within the fandoms can trade these photo cards and stickers with others within the community to collect cards of members they want. Lightsticks are another well-known part of Kpop culture, which are hand-held lights specific to each group with unique designs that set them apart from each other. These lightsticks are designed to be used at concerts and events for fans to show support for their favorite groups.
Anime (short for animated Japanese comics/cartoons) has been around for decades, but has become extremely popular within the last 10 years. Fans vary from every age group, gender, and race. These comics/cartoons come in countless genres, such as romance, comedy, mystery, horror, action, and adventure. Due to the growth of international popularity, anime is often subtitled or dubbed in different languages from all around the world. Many anime movies become so popular that they are released in western theaters as well. Some of the most popular anime are “One Piece”, “Avatar the Last Airbender”, “Naruto”, “Pokémon” , and “Dragonball Z”.
Most anime are based off of manga, which are Japanese comics or graphic novels. Manga is created by writers and artists from Japanese studios such as Kyoto animation, Toei animation, Bones, and Madhouse. Manga is sold in Japanese bookstores, and is often translated into other languages such as English for international fans. Many fans read webtoons, which is manga that are posted online so viewers can read them virtually.
Fans of Japanese cartoons or comics are often called “Otakus”. These fans often come together at multiple anime conventions around the world. Many fans participate in “cosplay” which is when a fan dresses up as an anime character. Fans also buy countless merchandise such as posters, clothes, and figurines of their favorite anime.
Asia is well-known for the unique and beautiful traditional clothing from each country, influencing many designs around the world. One style in particular that has grown internationally famous-- especially among younger generations-- is Asian streetwear. Asian streetwear differs by country, but often contains fancy traditional clothing or of expensive designer brands. Often worn by models, celebrities, and online influencers, it has become a globally popular topic in social media, such as “TikTok” and “Instagram”.
Different Streetwear Styles:
Although traditional clothing is commonly worn daily across Asia, many countries have their own unique streetwear styles. In Japan, Lolita styles-- goth, punk, or sweet Lolita styles stemming from the 80s victorian style clothing and fashion-- and Harajuku style-- mixed style of sweet/gothic Lolita, cosplay, cutesy fairy kei, punk rock, and traditional Japanese clothes used to defy the strict societal rules and standards in Japan-- are commonly worn. However in Korea, athleisure, professional style (such as pant suits and blazers), simplistic/monotone style, and oversized clothing is commonly worn. Whereas in China, commonly worn styles include sheer clothing, bright/neon clothing (which usually includes bold accessories), and juxtaposing (contrasting, such as black and white) clothing. Many of these listed styles and more are trending in western countries such as the U.S, while fans and western celebrities attempt to recreate outfits/styles or while many western designs are influenced by Asian fashion.
For the 2020-21 season, REACH will be releasing a new blog post written by our officers during the first and third Wednesdays of each month about different aspects of Asian culture, such as pop culture, conflicts faced, representation in media, history, celebration and holidays, and stereotypes. We hope you enjoy reading them!