What happened: On Monday, Louis Vuitton announced its newest house ambassadors, the members of K-pop boy band RIIZE. The news came as a surprise, given the newness of the six-member group, which debuted only in September this year.
The French luxury house is betting on rising stars: Shotaro, Eunseok, Sungchan, Wonbin, Sohee and Anton: “The group has garnered significant attention for their trendsetting and confident fashion senses,” Louis Vuitton stated in a press release.
“Their liberating fashion choices have already generated immense interest within the fashion world. We look forward to embarking on this creative journey together with RIIZE.”
The Jing Take: In recent years, luxury houses have taken special interest in South Korea’s burgeoning pop acts — along with the thousands, if not millions of fans they come with.
Examples include the announcement of BTS’ Jimin as Tiffany & Co’s latest ambassador, boy band Enhypen fronting Prada campaigns, and Twice’s Dahyun serving as Michael Kors’ global ambassador — and now RIIZE's appointment. The boy band’s widespread appeal is evident, after the group’s debut album Get A Guitar sold 1 million copies earlier this year.
However, despite the immaculate image, slick dance moves and pitch-perfect performances that differentiate groups like RIIZE from acts in the West, brands will need to be aware that Asia's pop outfits are not immune to controversy.
And RIIZE saw its first just a few months after its debut: The boyband initially launched as a seven-member group, however, its 19-year old piano and guitar-player Seunghan is currently on “indefinite hiatus,” according to management company SM Entertainment.
In November, the boy-bander came under fire when a video of him and Soobin, the leader of K-pop outfit Tomorrow X Together was leaked, and in which he criticized fellow artist Soobin for “incompetent singing, dancing and rapping,” and made sexist comments about a female K-pop artist.
"We feel a strong sense of responsibility for our lack of management of our artist, although the incidents involving him took place before his debut. We are sincerely sorry," SM Entertainment stated at the time, after Seunghan shared his own apology.
Despite the controversy, and only weeks later, the members of RIIZE, which include one Japanese national, have gone on to join other bonafide multicultural acts including Chinese K-pop star Jackson Wang of Got7, as Louis Vuitton’s latest celebrity ambassadors.
Luxury brands are quickly realizing the global appeal of such acts, which has often translated into lucrative opportunities for brands to reach a plethora of fans across languages, cultures and continents.