The style evolution of Asian boy bands

From printed shirts to prep school princes, we look at how male musical groups’ fashions have evolved over the years

The style evolution of Asian boy bands
The style evolution of Asian boy bands
13 Apr 2015

The style evolution of Asian boy bands

Whether they’re a trio from the 80s or a three-year-old 12-member outfit, boy bands have flaunted a variety of fashion trends throughout the ages. Click through to see what trends have dominated male groups’ fashions in the Korean, Japanese and Chinese music scene since not-so-way back when:

1980s: The princes of matching prints
1980s: The princes of matching prints
13 Apr 2015

1980s: The princes of matching prints

Pictured: The Little Tigers, Grasshopper

Just looking at these pictures alone is bringing us to a dingy KTV room for a session of belting out old school Chinese tunes with a charmingly unrefined sound quality and easy-to-sing-along-to beats. If there’s one era that could pull off the super matchy-matchy thing with the finesse of a style trailblazer (and not an over-the-top attempt at being “avant-garde”), it’s this golden one of karaoke-worthy hits here.

Early 1990s: Keeping it casual
Early 1990s: Keeping it casual
13 Apr 2015

Early 1990s: Keeping it casual

Pictured: Seo Taiji and Boys, L.A. Boyz

Not trying too hard is key to replicating this laidback look. Just throw on the first and most comfy-looking thing from your closet and voila! you’re good to go. You know what they say: less is more.

Late 1990s: The baggier, the better
Late 1990s: The baggier, the better
13 Apr 2015

Late 1990s: The baggier, the better

Pictured: Mayday, H.O.T.

Especially when it comes to trousers. Seriously, Ashin (from Mayday, above left, centre), we worry that if you take your hands out of your pockets, that mass of fabric covering your lower half is going to crumple to a heap on the floor.

But seriously, a music video from 1999 was not a music video from 1999 if the stars weren’t swimming in cloth. That said, we’d be lying if we said that this getup doesn’t look extremely comfortable, or if we denied the fact that it will come in handy when gorging on buffet delights (no sucking in of the stomach required!).

Early 2000s: Long hair, don’t care
Early 2000s: Long hair, don’t care
13 Apr 2015

Early 2000s: Long hair, don’t care

Pictured: F4, Arashi

Girls, have you ever looked at the overgrown mane of a man and thought woefully to yourself, “(Sigh) His hair is nicer than mine”? Because that’s how we admit to feeling right now.

The most famous purveyors of silky, shoulder-length locks were none other than the lads of F4 themselves. Oh, how we remember wishing that Vanness’ black curtain of pin-straight perfection sprouted out of our heads, or that our tresses were as fluffy as the Arashi quintet’s.

Late 2000s: Suit up!
Late 2000s: Suit up!
13 Apr 2015

Late 2000s: Suit up!

Pictured: Super Junior, Fahrenheit

“All grown up but still ready to party” is how we read the suited up ensembles from this era. Formal enough to exude an air of big boy seriousness but not too stuffy for an after-hours rendezvous, this is what we’d imagine a suave young CEO would be in as he locks eyes with a lucky lady in the most atas bar in the city.

Early 2010s: Back to school
Early 2010s: Back to school
13 Apr 2015

Early 2010s: Back to school

Pictured: Top Combine, EXO

Perhaps due to the success of academy-based drama Boys Over Flowers in 2009, the schoolboy look was all the rage during this time. Hence, boy band fashion seemed to veer out of the boardroom and go back in time into the classroom – but with a little creative sartorial upgrade, of course. Whether straight-laced yet slightly cheeky or with full-on “I will dye my hair and refuse to tuck in my shirt” bad boy vibes, don’t you wish you had classes with these lads?

Today: Hip-hop at the top
Today: Hip-hop at the top
13 Apr 2015

Today: Hip-hop at the top

Pictured: GOT7, BTS

Bandanas, chains and snapbacks are elements that frequent the images of some of the newest kids on the (mostly K-pop) block. They may be young, but they’ve got major attitude, and nothing goes with said major attitude better than some laidback threads that also flaunt how fashion forward they are – it’s never long until all the kids are hitting up Bugis Street trying to pull together similar looks.

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