GenZ has always leaned into the global world: a world that gets to connect and enjoy all the pleasures that the world has to offer. Since 2020, there has been a major surge of interest in anime, K-Pop, Pocky, and everything North Asian. How is North Asian fashion influencing the rest of the world?
How is American fashion different from North Asian fashion?
Generally, casual American fashion is designed to emphasize a great figure. American fashion often focuses on showing skin with crop tops, corsets, cutouts, low rise, etc. Many articles of clothing are designed to fit tightly on the body. Additionally, American fashion loves flashy geometric patterns and tons of accessories.
North Asian fashion focuses much more on fabric, emphasizing exquisite cloth and textiles. Historically, North Asia has been admired for its ravishing nature-themed patterns, such as clouds, scales, and tigers, embracing the symbolic side of various cultures. North Asian fashion can seem more understated than American fashion.
North Asian Street Fashion
If you were on TikTok in 2020, you probably saw Chinese and Korean “street walks,” with every shot showing another stunning fit. Current North Asian street fashion is more androgynous than other parts of the world, consisting of a palate with hues of black and other muted colors.
For street fashion, hip-hop trends are matched with traditional cultural pieces. The hip-hop side brings belts, buckles, chains, or harnesses, as seen on BlackPink. As young individuals try to maintain their heritage in the modern world, they will often combine the best of both worlds, represented through fashion by casual kimonos over wide-legged pants, or blazers over hanfu. However, you will also notice a rather different side as well. Individuals are fully invested in mainstream trends and household names in the industry by wearing outfits dripped with luxurious items, with people wearing full suits, brand name pieces, leather, and fur.
K-idols and J-idols have also increased the world’s interest in “cute” fashion, also known as Kawaii. This style is not meant to be mature– it’s everything tiny, girly, and fun. The colors are mostly pastel pinks, yellows, and blues. Most wearers use colored wigs, long lashes, pastel eyeshadow, and a heavy blush across the nose.
Kawaii fashion has made schoolgirl-style clothing popular. It includes short, pleated skirts, tall leggings, and chunky shoes with small crossbody bags. Another kawaii style is lolita, which originated in a fashion hub in Japan and is designed to make the wearer look like a doll. Lolita features a lot of lace, candy motifs, and cute animals on mid-length skirts underlaid with petticoats.
You’ll see American cottagecore or e-girl styles borrowing a lot from Kawaii. Alternative influencers are also using and playing off of this style. Music stars like Ariana Grande and Melanie Martinez are even sporting some of these elements.
What will be popular next?
Since the internet connects the world, global fashion is constantly changing. In 2023, we expect a throwback to early 2000's wear, like ribbed shirts and vests. The popularity of metallics and monochromatic fits is rising too. But we can assume that the North Asian baggy pants and short A-line skirts will maintain their popularity.
Whether kawaii, street fashion, or traditional wear, Asia is a leader in world fashion trends based on its numerous contributions and innovations.