K-dramas influence fashion with unique storylines and talented actors. Costume designers use clothing to visually represent characters’ personalities. Because of this, many K-dramas have sparked fashion trends, with iconic pieces and accessories becoming a hit with fans worldwide.
From thrillers to romcoms, K-drama outfits set the mood and spark global fashion trends, turning iconic pieces into fan favorites. If you’re ready for a wardrobe refresh, here are 10 of our favorite fashion-forward K-dramas to help inspire you.
1. Celebrity (2023)
Let’s kick off this list with Netflix’s Celebrity, which focuses on influencers and the stylish fashions they wear. Seo A-Ri, played impeccably by Park Gyu-Young, goes from an ordinary girl to South Korea’s top social media fashionista.
This K-drama’s female cast are dressed in the latest fashion, ranging from European brands like Balmain, Louis Vuitton and Dior. Also present are top Korean labels such as Lehho, Grace U and Mudidi. This drama breaks down the significance of wearing high fashion, and gives us a look at what goes on in the world of influencers.
2. Vincenzo (2021)
In Vincenzo, Song Joong-Ki plays a Korean man who becomes part of an Italian mafia family. Throughout the series, he is often seen in exquisitely tailored suits that beautifully capture the essence of Italian menswear fashion. He also accessorizes luxurious watches from high-end brands like Hublot, Tag Hauer, and Zenith. This power dressing radiates elegance and appeals to both genders. Actress Jeon Yeo-Been exudes strength in fashion, wearing pantsuits and dresses from designers like Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, and Max Mara. As far as K-dramas go Vincenzo is one of the most stylish, and its impact is still being felt today.
3. It’s Okay To Not Be Okay (2020)
While the series focuses heavily on the love story between the two leads, the fashion on display adds an extra layer of depth to the storytelling. The female lead played by Seo Ye-Ji wore exquisite designer dresses with flowing silhouettes and delicate fabrics. These helped to represent her fairytale-like journey of self-discovery. By design, Kim Soo-Hyun’s male lead wears simple, neutral tones to represent his role as a grounding presence in the story.
4. Crash Landing On You (2019)
One of the K-dramas that became a global sensation for its unique storyline and exceptional fashion choices. A South Korean heiress, played by Son Ye-Jin, crash-lands in the North. Despite this she falls in love with an army officer, played by her real-life husband Hyun Bin.
The fashion in the show strikingly illustrates the stark differences between the characters’ backgrounds. North Korean characters are typically seen in military-inspired attire, reflecting their austere and regimented lifestyle, while South Korean characters are often in luxurious and sophisticated outfits, signifying their affluent and cosmopolitan lifestyle. This contrast in fashion serves as a visual representation of the disparate worlds the characters come from.
This K-drama also helped popularized oversized coats, turtlenecks, and stylish winter accessories, which became must-have items for fashion enthusiasts.
5. Start-Up (2020)
This K-drama showcases dynamic tech entrepreneurs’ youthful spirit through their fashion choices. The female lead’s blend of laid-back streetwear, oversized sweaters, and accessories sparked a trend for cozy yet fashionable everyday attire. Start-Up also highlighted the ‘geek chic’ trend, blending intellectual appeal with fashion-forward style through characters’ eyeglasses and attire.
6. Squid Game (2021)
The costumes worn by the characters in Squid Game made a lasting impression on viewers sparking an unlikely fashion craze. The unique green tracksuits donned by contestants in the drama ignited a small trend in the athleisure fashion world. Even the hot pink jumpsuits and masks worn by the guards became a favourite at costume parties worldwide. With Squid Game Season 2 in production, fans anticipate a resurgence of its unique fashion trend.
The surprising yet undeniable impact of Squid Game‘s costumes left a lasting impression in the world of fashion trends. The unique green tracksuits donned by the ill-fated contestants ignited a small trend in the athleisure fashion world. The hot pink jumpsuits worn by the guards, as well as their facemasks, became a favorite at costume parties worldwide. And with Season 2 of Squid Game currently in production, fans are already dusting their outfits off to prepare for a resurgence of this fashion trend.
7. Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (2016)
Also known as Goblin, this drama features Gong Yoo as an immortal who falls for a human, portrayed by Kim Go-Eun. Beyond its unique plot and breathtaking cinematography, the costumes also garnered significant attention. They showcased a fusion of classic and modern styles, with the long coats worn by male cast members becoming popular. Sales of a Lanvin coat worn by Gong Yoo and a Lancome lipstick worn by Kim Go-Eun, rose as a direct result of the drama.
8. Itaewon Class (2020)
Itaewon Class not only managed to captivate audiences with its compelling story but also left a notable mark on the fashion landscape as well with its streetwear designs. The fashion choices perfectly complemented the characters’ personalities and the gritty urban setting of the Itaewon district. From the edgy outfits worn by male lead Park Seo-Jun, to the effortlessly cool androgynous looks of his female co-star Kim Da-Mi, Itaewon Class brought forth a fashion revolution. The gender-neutral fashions, oversized blazers, statement accessories, and bold hairstyles inspired viewers to experiment with their own personal style.
9. My Roommate Is A Gumiho (2021)
This K-drama, featuring a romance between a college student and a mythical nine-tailed fox, introduced a fresh, youthful style that resonated with viewers. The male protagonist, portrayed by Jang Ki-Yong, was often seen in a blend of casual attire, including snug sweaters and jackets paired with sporty trousers. These fashion choices mirrored his appealing and accessible character, further enhancing his on-screen persona.
The female lead, played by Hyeri, embraced a more tomboyish and sporty style. Her style encompassed a mix of cropped jackets, jeans, and sneakers, frequently complemented with accessories like caps or beanies. These ensembles projected an air of independence and a laid-back attitude, making her character resonate with the audience.
10. Hotel Del Luna (2019)
Hotel Del Luna stands out for the extravagant and whimsical costumes worn by Jang Man-Wol (played by IU). The costumes perfectly reflect her eccentric personality and otherworldly nature. Fans loved Jang Man-Wol’s modern hanbok-inspired outfits, and the ethereal and extravagant gowns worn by the hotel’s ghostly guests. Hotel Del Luna also pushed boundaries in terms of creativity and fashion experimentation in K-dramas. The costumes also brought attention to traditional Korean fashion elements, inspiring viewers to incorporate them into their own wardrobes.
If you enjoyed this story about K-dramas that have inspired fashion trends, check out our article on K-celebrities who are global fashion ambassadors.