The Gucci-clad seven-piece we saw on the Billboard Music Awards red carpet just a few weeks ago started off as a hip-hop crew that often wore over-sized HBA muscle tanks and matching baggy shorts; a short dive into their 5-year career will show you just how dramatically their concepts and accompanying wardrobes have transformed to complement their ever-evolving music.
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Over-sized tees, baggy basketball shorts and chunky gold chains ruled the group’s first ever era in the public eye. Taking cues from hip-hop icons like The Notorious B.I.G. and Wu Tang Clan, their debut look was dark, intensely eye-lined. Monochromatic looks from streetwear labels like Hood By Air, Kokon To Zai, as well as Virgil Abloh‘s Pyrex Vision, were frequently sported by the all of boys at once.
When they held their comeback show for Love Yourself: Her last year, they performed their debut song “No More Dream” in clothes that reminisced their debut look. Trust them to know their own style best – if everyone wore Off-White during this throwback stage, this is exactly what they did back in the day.
Still going on about facing the harsh realities of school and society, the album Skool Luv Affair tackles the foolish and tumultuous affairs of teenage love. Slightly undone white shirts and ankle-grazing dress pants emphasized the “bad-boy from school” concept where the boys took on the roles of young, rebellious youths at their prime, still clad in head-to-toe black.
Though tinged with the same angst and unrest of the previous concepts, the Dark And Wild album was more playful and fun. The “War of Hormone” music video played homage to the 90’s grunge and punk street style, the members wearing torn cable knit sweaters, brogues and pinstripes brands like Diesel and Kenzo to channel that could-care-less recklessness of young, naive, boys.
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Outfits for song “Danger” were more sophisticated interpretations of their distinct hip-hop look, this time including touches of leather and gold on blazers and moto jackets from Versace. The effect is still a singular, fierce presence, but only more refined and bad-ass than before.
The Most Beautiful Moment In Life era marks the beginning of the supergroup’s wardrobe transformation and rise to mainstream stardom. The raspy hip-hop sounds and death stares are now replaced with lyrical pop tunes like “I Need U”. Olive green Joe Gush bomber jackets, dark-washed Levi’s cuffed at the ankles and eight-hole Dr Marten’s boots set the stage for a story line that will connect all future releases as one that is infinitely unfolding and growing.
Tops and bottoms are suddenly fit for the everyday, save for some floral motifs on Givenchy and Dior Homme sweaters. BTS has just discovered the story-telling potential of clothes and are now using this to connect and communicate with fans at a more intimate level. This also opened doors to a larger variety of concepts and looks that aren’t bound by a set style or date.
In Most Beautiful Moment In Life: Part 2 , the seven add the upbeat “Run” to their discography. The boys wear band tees, distressed jeans and add the Union flag on their boot tips – everything is more graphic and colourful to complement the high-energy synth track that seeks to set youths into motion.
Satin souvenir jackets from Mastermind Japan and biker jackets from Joyrich x Off-White and Lewis Leathers are incorporated into their dance routine for good measure; a move that was right on trend.
The last installment of this three-part saga sees members in dressed for a party in “Fire” and some soul-searching for EDM-driven “Save Me”. Each song’s wardrobe is a clear indication of their improving styling sensibilities, and are both apt reflections of how the millennial generation dresses up and down. In the former, the members play with Cali-surfer palm-trees and orange sunsets atop frayed denim bottoms, pieces coming from Wacko Maria and Saint Laurent’s Spring 2016 Menswear collection.
On a side note, this is the first real full-on Gucci look that they’ve ever worn. This album is titled not part three, but The Most Beautiful Moment In Life: Young Forever – an intentional choice to do away with the finality of the number “3”, and possibly a reason why they would go for the chino shorts and knee-high-socks combo that screams a prince-like innocence more than anything.
In “Save Me”, the palette is completely watered down to cool-toned neutrals to match the song’s message of being honest about one’s desire to feel wanted and loved. It is no surprise then that they would choose to layer on with T-shirts from MISBHV, NID de GUÊPES and THISISNEVERTHAT instead, streetwear darlings their generation (and BTS themselves) love wearing.
The aged silver of Chrome Hearts jewelry, velvet chokers, Balmain blazers and more frilly odes to a Victorian elegance were derivatives of the now more serious and mature concept of WINGS. In “Blood, Sweat, Tears”, they were spot-on with the trends, purposely flaunting each member’s natural assets (RM’s lengthy proportions, Jin’s broad shoulders, etc.). Just like the seven solo tracks in the album, this comeback’s wardrobe exemplified what a good team work should be like – a cohesion in differences.
After winning their first Artist Of The Year award, BTS quickly returns with You Never Walk Alone, a repackaging of WINGS with two distinct versions. For track “Spring Day”, there is a mix of furry hoodies, beanies and acid-wash denim shorts from brands like Faith Connexion, Moschino and MSGM. Set against an abandoned carousel and beach in a dying winter, each member seems to have mastered the fashioning of nostalgia in the most stylish of ways.
At the same time, the justice-seeking synth-hop anthem “Not Today” is also released. The members dance aggressively in aptly selected bandanas, Balenciaga speed trainers and hoodie-bomber jacket combos. This song is a revisit of their anti-establishment messages from “No More Dream” and “N.O.”, but fiercer, and in trend. They wore streetwear labels like Off-White, Marcelo Burlon, Juun. J and Vetements.
After taking a 6-month hiatus from the stage for their world tour, Love Yourself: Her serves four entirely different looks that range from clean and crisp shirts to vibrant basketball jerseys and track pants. This is them making a statement about their stylistic versatility: they are now global artists that are if not on, above trends. Here, BTS puts their own spin on the whole athleisure trend by kicking up the colour saturation with bright pieces from GCDS, Golf Wang, Gucci and Supreme.
Their stage costumes of “DNA” were eye-catchingly dazzling – it is hard not to visualize the vibrant multi-coloured Gucci sweater on J-Hope and sequined bomber worn by Jimin without the opening whistles of “DNA” playing in the background.
The members now are starting to give more love to South Korea’s own labels, taking advantage of their widespread influence to also draw attention to their homeland’s own fast-developing fashion scene. Brands include Wooyoungmi, Low Classic, Ordinary People and Kim Seo Ryoung.
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“MIC Drop”, the grimy, daring hip-hop and rap endeavour, is an updated version of BTS’s humble beginnings of streetwear looks. Bucket hats, Alpha Industries bomber jackets, Yeezy, Haider Ackermann and Alexander Wang garments, were thrown into the usual mix of Off-White, Mastermind and Juun J. This street and luxury combination look would have been what BTS circa. 2014 looked to for inspiration.
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Count on them to make the most of any situation and transform it into an opportunity for new ventures: marrying the colourful flashiness of “DNA” to the cool street vibes of “MIC Drop” made way for this special look on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show. Using pieces from Opening Ceremony, Supreme x The North Face, Palm Angels and Neighbourhood, they stunned the American TV audiences with their superb stamina, immaculate voice control and air of cool.
It would be wrong to not mention their striking black suit ensemble worn for a performance of “MIC Drop” during the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) in 2017. The smart two-piece sets from Chanel, Saint Laurent and Givenchy are what make BTS more memorable than any of the other colourful groups on stage that night: simplicity can be very loud when played properly, and they did so while telling their haters to take a step back.
The latest release, Love Yourself: Tear, is the epitome of the style icons BTS have become today. The four concepts this time range from denim ensembles of Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, Versace and A.P.C., to a satin and sweater affair with Dries Van Noten, Cmmn Swdn and Nohant.
This dapper look was one of the most striking ones of the four concepts of this release. All that fringe-work, light-reflecting leather and stripes from Toga, Chanel Vintage and Saint Laurent are testament to the band’s now familiar confidence in their styling capabilities – a black-and-white look never gets old.
The opening strums of the electric guitar in their record-breaking hit “Fake Love” informs the rocker chic makeovers that come from graffiti-laden Bond, Christian Dada, and Maison Mihara Yasuhiro, paired with zebra prints and sequins from Saint Laurent and Maison Margiela. Now that they have the whole world at their feet, they seem to be looking beyond mainstream Western luxury giants and opting for a more eclectic mix of Japanese, Korean and other cult street wear brands too.
Trust these boys to continue slaying the global stage in time to come, for it is with this fearlessness and willingness to experiment with all kinds of styles that makes them a force to be reckoned in today’s competitive industry of fashion.
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