From “ugly” clothing to instances of appropriation, styling can be one of the most controversial topics in K-Pop. Whenever an idol steps out in an outfit that fans don’t like, there’s always one question on everyone’s lips: who should be blamed? Are the stylists responsible for everything, or do idols get a say too?
Thankfully, former Blady member Tina (now more commonly known as Soobin or Christine Park) recently spilled all on her YouTube channel, soobeanie_.
For her latest “Idol Insider” video, Christine asked viewers to send in questions about K-Pop styling, and the first question was whether idols get any say in how they want to look.
First and foremost, Christine revealed that how much say an idol gets depends on their status. Rookies, for example, “just have to wear what [stylists] give [them]“. On the other hand, idols who have been working with their stylists for several years may feel comfortable enough to express their opinions.
Drawing from her own experience, Christine said that when she was a rookie, she couldn’t tell her stylist that she didn’t like the clothes she was given because “it can come off as rude“.
However, there was an exception to that rule. Sometimes, Blady’s agency Star Planet Entertainment would arrange meetings between the members and the staff or CEO. There, Christine and her groupmates could tell the company if there was something they didn’t like about their styling.
[This way], the higher ups can talk with the stylist instead of us talking with the stylist.
Of course, in the cause of particularly polarizing outfits, such meetings may be too little, too late. Over the years, numerous idols have been called out by K-Pop fans for all sorts of styling controversies.
Back in March 2016, for example, TWICE‘s Tzuyu was the subject of outcry from netizens over a t-shirt she wore which read “hoes take off your clothes” in English.
And sometimes, outfit controversies can be far more serious. Take, for example, the time Girl’s Day‘s Hyeri came under fire for wearing an imperial Japanese “rising sun” t-shirt two years into her career.
Cultural appropriation is also a growing frustration among fans. One of the most well-known examples is MOMOLAND‘s music video for “BAAM”, in which the members don insensitive outfits from other cultures.
Of course, at the time, all these idols were new to the industry. Hyeri and MOMOLAND were called out around two years into their careers, while Tzuyu had debuted less than 6 months before her controversy. According to Christine’s experience, it’s likely that these idols had no real say in their styling.
Christine went on to say that while it may seem like a better idea for idols to address their stylists directly (particularly in the case of offensive outfits), being upfront can “cause an iffy situation“.
So, it makes sense that many stars don’t feel comfortable enough to give input until they’ve built up a relationship with their stylists.
So, what do rookies do when they don’t like their outfits? Christine said she often encountered idols who didn’t like their outfits while everyone was changing behind the scenes at events.
She admitted she doesn’t know whether those stars confronted their stylists, revealing that the members typical vent their frustrations among themselves.
Amongst the members I’ll just be like, “Oh, I don’t really like my outfit today”, like “My outfit sucks today”, and you would kind of talk amongst your members. I’ve heard a lot of other idols saying that as well.
Thankfully, idols aren’t forced to wear the stylist’s picks all the time. Christine shared that stars usually get to style their own airport outfits, allowing them to choose pieces they feel comfortable being photographed in. According to Christine, only the less fashion-confident idols ask their stylists to choose their airport style.