The European style has drastically changed over the past decades, and although some previous trends are making a comeback, such as 90s backless tops and baby doll dresses, or 80s ripped jeans and Ray Bands, modern fashion can only be characterized as a product of globalisation. Physical attributes from various cultures identifying as ‘beautiful,’ are no longer individualised to a single geographic location. Consumer demands for innovative trends in both clothing and cosmetics allows non-Western countries to influence and shape the multi-billion USD commercial enterprise into an all-inclusive lifestyle, and it’s wonderful. In the twenty-first century, one nation is leading the beauty industry: South Korea.
During the past decade, South Korea’s beauty industry has grown into one of the nation’s top forms of revenue, building a net worth of almost 6 billion USD. But how does this effect the European and Western standard of beauty? First, South Korea’s cosmetic products, such as lip taints and compact cushion foundations, have revolutionized brands like Revlon, CoverGirl, and L’Oréal, forcing them to compete by releasing similar lines. For example, the Korean cosmetic brand, Too Cool for School, is known for appealing to young girls with interactive and cute packaging that resembles everyday objects including school supplies, paints, animals, and food. Skin care merchandise has increased in popularity as well. Now, it is practically impossible to shop at any drug store, such as Boots, or transnational clothing stores like H&M, without finding sheet facial masks displayed on shelves. Regarding fashion, trends like Korean street style can be seen in department stores like Zara, Top Shop, H&M, and Urban Outfitters. Even Channel, a Western luxury brand, caters to non-western markets by organising separate clothing lines during Korean Fashion Week. Thus, the European look is changing to accommodate styles around the world.
Secondly, it is the South Korean entertainment industry, like Korean pop music (K-pop) and Korean television shows, that help advertise the country’s cosmetic merchandise, fashion, and overall global image. K-pop ‘idols’ and film celebrities often sponsor domestic cosmetic companies, and as technology helps the arts industry popularise around the globe, so do their beauty trends. South Korean entertainment companies such as YG, JYP, and SM-Town have not only produced the most famous musicians in Asia, but have dabbled in film, fashion, and cosmetics. YG Entertainment once even advertised personal makeup brands created by its world-famous Korean pop idols like G-Dragon. This tactic of naming and placing faces on products has become one of the most popular form of advertisement in Korea and the world. Media has increased South Korea’s outreach as a fashion trend-setter, but even more noteworthy is how it’s been adapted into European style.
This influence of fashion, makeup, and skin care has ultimately changed the clothing available to European consumers and therefore the way they think about fashion. With the increase of globalization comes the increase of fashion products, styles, and inspiration. Consumers are no longer limited to a single market or framework of thinking in the fashion industry, and that’s the beauty behind it. The increase of South Korean importance in fashion is a depiction of the industry rejecting its previous single frame of mind thought process. Now, all images are accepted and ready to be shown to the world.