K-Pop costumes originate fan creative subculture from imitated designs

K-POP stars are known for wearing designer items with styles that their fans would love to follow. But most of their items are priced high, and most fans don’t usually have the same access to high-end brands. For example, a Dan Cassab fur coat worn by Blackpink’s Jennie costs $3,600. Due to the high price, some fans choose to purchase more affordable costumes replicated by local artisans, including in Indonesia.

The K-pop market in Indonesia is big. According to Twitter, Indonesia is among the top 20 countries that tweet about K-pop. Widespread exposure to Korean culture has influenced many aspects of Indonesian life. This includes the beauty standard of South Korean idols, as Azmiyah Nabilah Irsan, a graduate in Korean language and culture from Gajah Mada University, explains.

“Many of these fans are looking forward to South Korean beauty and fashion items. Selling replica K-pop costumes is a smart marketing move because it can promote South Korean popular culture faster. In fact, some competitions dance shows often require participants to dress similarly to K-pop groups. [whose songs they are dancing to]Azmiyah noted.

“Also, sometimes dressing up like their idol is another way to appreciate them,” Azmiyah said.

William Anthony Yanko, professor of popular culture at RMIT University in Melbourne, added that sometimes fans take the opportunity to dress up as their idol to bond.

“For some people, it’s almost like building an interconnectivity that seems to dissolve time and space between fans and idols. So, it makes idols more accessible to fans,” William explained.

Style release

“I never thought I would start my own business. I want to be a fashion designer, but at the time I didn’t think fashion would be a good career for me,” said Chandra Surhartono, founder of a popular costume-making company named Sylph Crew, which has over 50,000 followers on Instagram. . Chandra started her business ten years ago. He is arguably one of Indonesia’s most popular costume designers, with over 50,000 followers on Instagram.

At first, just like those unfamiliar with K-pop, Chandra was not drawn to this particular trend. But he soon discovered that the avant-garde elements of K-pop fashion allowed him to express himself with colorful styles.

“K-pop costumes are very liberating from an aesthetic point of view. The K-pop style mixes all the patterns and colors, but they somehow seem to be coordinated together. For fans, it’s actually aesthetically pleasing,” he said.As a fashion enthusiast himself, he shared that having a costume business helped him understand how to model and design clothes. Additionally, creating a K-pop costume gives a similar experience of recreating game or anime cosplay costumes.

Moreover, he further shared that through the industry he learned to be a true fashion designer instead of replicating the clothing designs of iconic designers like Vivienne Westwood or Virgil Abloh.

“In fact, in the last two years, I also started selling clothes that I designed myself. I worked on a project for Glass, a girl group from Indonesia, whose style is mainly influenced by K-Pop,” he said. Chandra further shared that most of her designs were influenced by the artists from the popular K-pop agency YG Entertainment. Often using bold prints, their costumes fuse K-pop style with high fashion items.

Priska Masdalifah, a dance teacher and member of Volume Dance Cover, a Jakarta-based dance cover crew, is a frequent customer of K-pop costume makers. For her, wearing a K-pop costume is a method to explore her style and it even helps boost her confidence.

“The costume itself actually helps us feel more confident and presentable while doing the dance cover. Plus, it can actually help people identify the band we’re covering. Besides, who wouldn’t not be pretty?’ Priska shared.

Growing market

Aside from aesthetic purposes, replica K-pop costumes are a growing market, especially for a larger costume maker like Chandra, who can create at least 80 costumes in a month. As for the price, it really depends on the complexity of the costume design.

Mood Booster for Fans: K-Pop costumes play a big role in their dance covers as it enhances their performance and boosts their confidence. Priska Masdalifah

Chandra isn’t the only one who enjoys making costumes for fans. Diah Eka Rahmawati is another costume designer based in Bekasi. Diah quit her job as a production operator at one of Indonesia’s biggest pharmaceutical companies right after seeing how the costume business was helping her become financially independent.

“Let’s say that in a week, I can make up to 15 different costumes. Probably the hardest part is that each group has a different style and some members would even have a different design. For me, it’s a new challenge,” she said.

Another factor influencing the growth of the costume-making business is that many dance cover contests ask fans to replicate the idols’ costumes. These competitions even award prizes to those who have the best costume replica.

“In 2018, Blackpink held an outfit of the day contest on their comeback ‘Ddu Du Ddu Du’, and my clothes won first place. We gained over 20,000 followers just after hitting their social media” , Chandra added. He further mentioned that the dance cover band won an autographed CD and a random Polaroid photo.

Chandra spent hours looking at the details of the costume through the music videos and photos. Thanks to his hours of research, he was able to create a 98% accurate replica.

“The fact that this is a remake of an already existing design makes me think that I can’t overcharge my clients. But I will charge more for my own design,” Chandra added. costume replica, Chandra charges Rp 450,000 ($31.44) to Rp 2 million ($139.75), while for his own design, prices range from Rp 1 million ($69.87) to Rp 5 million. million Rp ($349.37).

“It should be noted that I am not making a mass-produced product,” he explained. Is it wrong to recreate a design? Olivia Nabila, a law graduate from the University of Brawijaya, explained that the law protecting intellectual rights on any product varies from country to country. “It should also be noted that it is wrong to replicate the design of an item for mass production. However, if someone is inspired by someone else’s design, they have to give credit to the original designer,” she explained.

Building communities

For costumers, creating a costume isn’t just about profit; it is also about building community.

“Fortunately, with the presence of social media, it is now easier to connect with each other. Some of my clients are from the Philippines, Japan and even Germany. Sometimes I’m concerned about overseas shipping costs,” Chandra added.

“What costume designers and dance cover artists do is a way to learn about a new culture,” he said.

While continuing his costume business and starting his own design house, Chandra said he believed the business had become an outlet to help fans who had a similar hobby.

“It’s fun because you also make people happy with your creations.”

The JAKARTA POST/Asia information network