BTS’s Jung Kook Feels Nervous to See Himself on a Calvin Klein Billboard
As a member of the biggest band on the planet, BTS’s Jung Kook has performed for a collective audience of millions. But there’s one thing he hasn’t done, until now: appear on the most famous billboard on earth. For that, he had to become the global ambassador, and newest face, of Calvin Klein’s denim and underwear lines. How did this latest accomplishment compare to singing and dancing in front of tens of thousands of people at a time? “I think I’m more nervous about seeing myself on a billboard,” Jung Kook tells GQ via email.
The singer joins Michael B. Jordan, Kendall Jenner, Blackpink’s Jennie, FKA Twigs, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson to star in the American megabrand’s spring campaign. But unlike Creed III actor-director MBJ, who recently told GQ that his buddies (jokingly) gave him a hard time over seeing his smoldering shirtless shots all over their Instagram feeds, Jung Kook says his friends have been supportive.
“They actually liked it,” he says. It has also gone over well with the world’s most powerful fanbase. “I was happy to hear that,” he says, referring to his friends co-signing the campaign, “but I couldn’t be happier that our ARMY loves it!”
Ever since BTS went on musical hiatus late last year, members of the band have been racking up brand endorsements of their own. Jung Kook was just the first of two BTS members to star in a huge brand deal in the last week; the day after his CK announcement, the Italian luxury brand Bottega Veneta released their spring campaign starring his bandmate RM. Six of BTS’s seven members have landed major fashion partnerships since the start of 2023 alone: Suga for Valentino, Jimin for Dior and Tiffany & Co., J-Hope for Louis Vuitton, V for Celine, and now, Jung Kook for Calvin Klein and RM for Bottega Veneta. News of a massive campaign starring singer Jin could arrive any day now.
BTS the group has been on the global fashion radar for years: Dior’s Kim Jones designed their tour uniforms in 2019, and the bandmates collectively became Louis Vuitton brand ambassadors in April 2021, shortly after wearing head-to-toe LV to the 2021 Grammys—and then did so again in 2022. (At the 2020 ceremony, they went full Bottega Veneta.) They’ve also repped Korean brands, including last summer when they rolled up, Reservoir Dogs style, to deliver a press briefing at the White House while wearing classic suits from the Korean menswear brand Tailorable.
The members of the band were stars of fashion month this last season, which saw more European luxury brands inviting K-pop idols to sit in their front rows than ever before. Their attendance at various shows foreshadowed some of the brand deals that have followed: Not long after Suga went to the Valentino couture show in January, J-Hope hit the men’s shows for Hermès and Vuitton and sat beside his bandmate Jimin at Dior. The next month, RM was in the front row at Bottega Veneta. (For those curious about all the French-luxury-conglomerate overlap here: LVMH owns Dior, Vuitton, Tiffany, and Celine, while Kering owns Bottega.)
While high-fashion houses have been bringing in more celebrity ambassadors in recent years, Calvin Klein has featured famous people in its high-vis ad spots for decades. And because the products themselves—blue jeans, underwear—are relatively bare-bones and personal, they center their celebrity marketing campaigns on authenticity and intimacy, which usually includes some degree of undress. The shots of Jung Kook, shot by photographer Park Jong Ha in CK’s signature smoldering, black-and-white mode, are some of his most revealing public images yet; in the official press release, Jung Kook says he’s “incredibly excited for people to see a new side of me in this first campaign for the brand.”
It’s safe to assume the last few years have been a whirlwind for Jung Kook, who is 25 and presumably still discovering new sides of himself. Though he admits that his “taste in music changes so much that sometimes I don’t even know how my taste changes over time,” he’s made some definitive changes to his wardrobe as of late.
“In terms of fashion, I don’t think I can wear anything that fits tight on me anymore,” he says. “And I LOVE ‘all black’ looks, except for anything Calvin Klein Jeans. :)”
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