One of the most well-known pieces of clothing for any K-pop star is the surgical face mask, which doubles as a way for idols to filter out smog as well as hide their faces from fans in public. However, it appears that this look is catching on beyond the K-pop world.
Speaking to Billboard, Western hip-hop duo Ayo & Teo talked about their recent adoption of surgical face mask as part of their "look" onstage and in their MVs, saying that the reasons are not fashion-based but rather more vanity-based. Following the release of their hit track "Rolex," the duo were asked by a fan why they scrunch up their faces when they dance. As a result of this, Ayo & Teo have started wearing face masks as a way to protect themselves onstage, saying that "the masks are a part of [them]."
It's not just Ayo & Teo who have started wearing face masks in the West. Artists such as 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Young Thug, and Future have all started sporting stylised face masks on and off the stage. Atlanta-based stylist Zoe Dupree, who designed the face mask worn by Future on his "Nobody's Safe Tour," states that face masks help artists maintain an "alter-ego" onstage, thus making performances more theatrical.
Dupree suggests that the stylised face mask look, which came out of necessity in Asia due to the pollution, is starting to catch on as a fashion trend, point out that BTS' Jimin's penchant for wearing face masks has caught on so much that fans BTS-branded face masks.
In the words of Dupree, "This is a new part of costuming, and you’ll see people doing new things with it. This is a trend that’s going to stay."
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