With the arrival of K-pop stars, fans turn their attention to Fashion Week metrics from Mashable

The newest front-row fixture at Fashion Week? Fanwars.

As luxury brands learn to leverage the star power of K-pop idols, their social media accounts have become a battleground for fandoms looking for new ways to quantify their influence. During Paris Fashion Week, fans created multiple Instagram accounts to boost engagement on posts by their favorite idol. Their goal? To drive up the star’s media value and increase their desirability in the eyes of luxury fashion houses.

If you spend any time online, you’re likely familiar with the basic competitive tenants of stan culture. For years, the fandoms of Western artists — from Beyonce’s Beyhive and Ariana Grande’s Arianators to Taylor Swift’s Swifties and Justin Bieber’s Beliebers — gathered in digital spaces on Tumblr and Twitter (now X) to debate the superiority of their favorite pop star.

But the global rise of K-pop has propelled new forms of comparison. One of the easiest ways to quantify success was touting album sales and chart positions. Then fans began taking note of the YouTube view counts of music videos, like the 24-hour feats achieved by top K-pop acts like BTS and Blackpink. By the time music awards shows realized they could get in on the action and created new categories that pandered to K-pop groups and their fandoms in 2022 and 2023, fans were sharp enough to see through the conceit.

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By comparison, fashion partnerships feel fresh and authentic. The industry is a natural fit for K-pop, an art form which prioritizes aesthetic mystique above all else. 

The undoubted leaders in relationship building between K-pop bands and brands has been girl group Blackpink, who have aligned themselves with high fashion labels for years, to great effect. “No one loved Blackpink more in 2021 than the fashion industry,” wrote Vogue that year. It’s surprising, then, that the fashion industry has been so slow to embrace other K-pop artists.

In 2024, they finally seem to be finding the right rhythm. Instead of adopting entire groups as ambassadors, most brands prefer to pick off individual members that best align with their ethos, choosing to seat one member at a runway show instead of half a dozen. There are exceptions, of course. The seven-member group Enhypen, for example, attended Prada’s Milan Fashion Week show in fall 2023 and now serve as official ambassadors for the brand.

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And as fashion has turned its focus to K-pop, fans have turned their focus to fashion.

When YouTube records were en vogue, fans stayed up into the night replaying a music video to increase its view count. Now they’re making similar efforts during Fashion Week, creating multiple Instagram accounts to boost the engagement on posts about their favorite idol. They are also teaching others to do the same by publishing step-by-step guides. One such post for Blackpink fans instructed them to comment on, like, and share member Jisoo’s Instagram posts when Dior is mentioned, with a goal of achieving between 2 and 5 million likes per post and 100,000 shares.

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The goal for fans is to increase an idol’s Media Value Impact (MIV) and Earned Media Value (EMV), two metrics tracked and reported by the influencer industry. The metrics help show fashion houses how important it is to invite certain idols, and, perhaps more importantly to fans, they serve as cold, hard proof that their star has star power.

Online, fans have been reporting these metrics with pride. A photo of Stray Kids member Hyunjin with actress Anne Hathaway garnered more than 114,000 like on X. Reports shared by fans appeared to show that he had achieved the top MIV ranking at Milan Fashion Week (Feb. 20 through Feb. 26). Other Korean stars held slots two through four. Hathaway was number five.

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