In a new “Comment Defenders” interview with AYO on YouTube, two experienced K-Pop costume designers revealed whether idols really get their outfits for free.
It’s a well-known fact that luxury brands often gift idols with expensive pieces from their latest collections, hoping that said stars’ popularity will help advertise their clothing. But what about custom-designed costumes?
Together, Lingerie Han‘s CEO Han Seon Mi and junior designer Na Hyun Bin have created handmade outfits for The Handmaiden, Apink, aespa, and Red Velvet. When one AYO commenter asked, “Idol stage costumes are all free, right?“, the design team had to set the record straight.
According to Han Seon Mi, the answer is a straight “NOPE“—except for in certain cases. The chief designer explained that when they design costumes, the artists usually wear them multiple times—for album cover shoots, music videos, and music show performances. Red Velvet’s Irene and Seulgi, for example, used their Lingerie Han outfits for their music video and debut stage.
Naturally, since idols tend to sweat a lot while dancing, the outfits can easily get ruined when they’re worn multiple times. As such, they can’t be reused or resold. For designers, those costumes would be money down the drain if they didn’t ask for money from the idols’ companies.
On top of that, Na Hyun Bin stressed that costume making takes a lot more effort than you might think. From coming up with design ideas to creating the actual clothing pieces, the junior designer explained, “It’s not that we make it in a day“. If they gave away the clothing for free, they’d never be able to make a living. However, there are exceptions.
While Lingerie Han often makes outfits that need to be used in multiple settings, sometimes stars only need a costume for a photoshoot or pictorial. In those cases, Han Seon Mi says costume designers may lend ready-made outfits to an agency for a few days. They do charge a rental fee, but it’s likely far cheaper than buying a custom outfit outright.
And, in rare special cases, designers like Lingerie Han do actually lend out costumes for free. But, only “for a muse who I love,” clarified the CEO. Just don’t tell anyone—”It’s a secret!“, she revealed.