EXO’s Kai, Fashion’s Latest ‘It’ Musician

Nothing has been so quick to catch fire than the embrace of K-pop bands into the upper-echelons of fashion. Rosé made history, along with CL, as the first K-pop stars to grace the carpet of the Met Gala. Jisso stunned fans with an exclusive look at Dior’s cruise 2022 collection moments before it hit the runway. BTS became the first K-pop band to represent Louis Vuitton. Yet none are as respected than EXO’s Kai.

There’s something particularly refreshing about Kai’s style. Apart from the oversized fits, tailored suiting, and layering synonymous with Korean style, his approach is carefully distilled. Between the mix of monotone suits and emblazoned Gucci accessories lies a sense of control that is in some ways otherworldly. “Concept is the most important thing,” he says confidently after being appointed the ambassador of Seoul Fashion Week. “We have to think whether we want to play it safe or take up a challenge.”

In many ways, Kai does both — blending the demure with eccentricity, all while referencing fashion and music history. The airport has often been a runway for musicians, and it’s a tradition he keeps alive. Watch reference Michael Jackson’s “Black Or White” music video during a performance of “Tempo” while decked out in Prada and vintage Giles Deacon, and easy to see why Kai was voted as one of the 25 most stylish musicians.

While many of EXO’s members secured regional deals with major labels, Gucci was quick to add the new style icon to its roster of global ambassadors — a title Kai shares with the likes of Harry Styles, Miley Cyrus and Florence and the Machine. After his appearance at the brand’s 2018 resort show, fans went wild for his futuristic, tailored approach to menswear. “Foreign brands keep an eye on us,” he explains. “They look at our popularity, the characteristics of the group, the identity of the person, and they see if it’s going to go along with their brand. That the two can make synergy, and after that you grow together and become more aligned.”

In our exclusive interview, Kai breaks down some of his most memorable looks, from his “dreamy and mysterious” all leather fit from “Mmmh,” to his signature ab-revealing crop tops and oversized streetwear in “Domino.”