Ever since their debut in 2013, the members of BTS have had a distinct and unique style. As their experience increased, they began taking more avant-garde fashion choices while still staying true to their core aesthetic. As BTS enters their fourth year, let us look back at their debut and comeback style choices as a group.
Debut & 2 Cool 4 Skool
BTS’ debut album was heavily steeped in hard-core hip-hop. Their style during this era reflected a similar quality. It was hard and edgy, almost gang-like, paired with a bad boy image. They used multiple accessories, including Rap Monster’s dollar sign cane, multiple gold chains and snapback hats. Bandanas added to the look, creating something brand new to K-Pop yet familiar to international audiences, specifically American audiences.
A memorable accessory of this era was J-Hope’s spiked face mask. While normally an odd and misplaced choice, it fit with the aesthetic and he made it work, wearing it with confidence.
The color palette of the debut was black and gold: an excellent choice for the intended overall look. It was dark enough to augment the bad boy image, while the gold accents prevented the look from crossing over into ‘emo-rock’ territory.
Even though their hair colors were sedated and natural, the styling was quite adventurous for a debut. Rap Monster’s hair was particularly noteworthy. The Mr. T-inspired mohawk paired with buzz-cut designs on the sides and back created a signature that could be remembered and referenced. It also laid the foundation for Rap Monster’s personal comeback style evolution, which could be seen as time moved forward.
The sophomore era of BTS was stylistically similar to their debut. However, there were some key differences that make this era important to note. The first notable change was the color palette. There was a dramatic shift from dark to bright, using white as the main color while keeping gold as the main accent. Other colors began creeping into the palette, which could be seen in the footwear of the members. Styling was still edgy, and the overall look still created a bad boy image. However, this time around, the use of white created a slightly softer look, adding a touch of innocence to the effect.
More high fashion choices were added here. An example of this was Rap Monster’s individual styling. From the frizzy hair peeking out from under his snapback, to the Prince-inspired dark glasses on his face, touches were added to the styling that created stepping stones that began gradually moving the group from bad boys to fashion icons.
The innocent quality could also be seen in the makeup (or lack thereof) that was used during this era. In the album’s photobook, Jin and Jungkook look almost bare-faced, while the other members have more natural makeup looks.
The hair styling during this time was still sedate. However, V’s hair did have an almost berry tint that under the right light could be disguised as a light ruddy-brown.
The confidence of some of the members had begun to show during this era as well. One such member was Jimin and his infamous chair pose. Although there was no eye contact, the mere fact that he could do that on the second comeback is worthy of note. But more changes were to come.
Skool Luv Affair
The “Skool Luv Affair” era was a total juxtaposition from the previous two. Although there were still hints of the bad boy image from debut, i.e. the “Boy In Luv” MV, this era’s image was much a softer schoolboy vibe. But it would not be Bangtan style without a slight edge.
The individuality of each member also began to show during this era, with some of the members having unique hair colors and styles.
Also of note was the growing comfort of the member during this era, especially Rap Monster and Jimin. Both could be seen giving more relaxed poses and facial expressions. But the final exam was still on the horizon. What would their first full album bring?
Dark & Wild
“Dark & Wild” was the conclusion of many things. It marked the end of the current concept, the end of their rookie days, the end of their time learning from veteran artists and legends in America and the end of their bad boy image. This era would be the last time anyone would see the bad boy edgy style during a comeback. As it was the final time, the culmination of all the style choices that they had made were seen here.
The era was an updated mix of the three preceding it. The clothing choices, although of higher quality, had not changed much from previous comebacks. The color palette was also similar. The true change was in the styling and the members themselves.
There was a comfort and fearlessness that could be seen in the poses and some of the fashion choices that had not been seen before. Even when there was no eye contact, it was not due to shyness, but calm assurance.
The one that had grown the most in confidence during this time, however, was Jin. His solo three-fourths profile shot has the infamous ‘C’ shape in the neck and chest region that all male models strive for.
The hair color choices for Jin and Suga stood out, as they are the only ones this time around with non-sedate coloring (burgundy and orange-red respectively).
The makeup choices were also bolder and more adventurous. The most notable members in this regard were Rap Monster, V and Jungkook, who had little details in their makeup that created a massive punch.
As this era drew to a close, it was readily apparent that these seven young men were embarking on the path to becoming some of the most iconic members of Korean and international fashion. But no one was prepared for what would happen next.