From ‘I-Land’ to International Stardom – WWD

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Enhypen is growing — its fan base and concert-venue size — each year.

The K-pop group’s seven members — Jungwon, Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo, and Ni-ki — originally came together three years ago as part of the survival competition show “I-Land.” Having gone through that process together, it’s no surprise that they are tight knit.

The group established a strong fandom during the run of “I-Land” and have continued to make their mark in the industry. This summer, Enhypen became the fastest K-pop boy group to surpass 1 billion streams. The fashion world has tapped in, too, with Prada naming all seven members brand ambassadors earlier this year

The group kicked off the U.S. leg of their second world tour, “Fate,” earlier this month in Los Angeles. On stage, Enhypen commands attention with their strong presence and upbeat songs. At their recent stadium show in Los Angeles, many fans (collectively known as “Engene”) were dressed in black with red motifs, a theme from the group’s “Dark Blood” album that nods to vampires. The group revealed on Sunday that their next album, “Orange Blood,” will be released on Nov. 17. 

Up close, the members of Enhypen are a delight. Throughout a recent interview in L.A., they checked in to make sure everyone had an equal opportunity to speak, and were ready to help each other provide well-rounded answers. During their photo shoot, they joked around between takes while jamming to Post Malone — who, they share, is one of their favorite musicians.

WWD: You were just in Milan for fashion week in September, attending the Prada show. How was that experience? 
Jay: It was our second Prada show, but the first women’s show we’ve been to. We were curious about it and after the show, too, there were a lot of things to experience, like exhibitions.
Sunghoon: We were able to have some free time while we were there, so we got to enjoy ourselves. And at the show, we saw many actors and fellow artists, so it was really fun. 

Enhypen at the Prada spring 2024 show on Sept. 21 in Milan.

Getty Images for Prada

WWD: Were there any looks in particular that stood out to you?
Ni-ki: There was a bag with a human head detail on it. Maybe a doll?
Jake: It looked like a character.
Ni-ki: Right after the show, we were talking amongst ourselves about how interesting it was. 

The Prada bag reimagining an archival style designed by Mario Prada in 1913.

The Prada bag reimagining an archival style designed by Mario Prada in 1913.

Courtesy of Prada

WWD: What do you love most about the fashion events that you attend?
Jake: We’ve now been to two in Europe, and we don’t normally have much opportunity to see our fans in Europe. Being able to see them after so long is really memorable. They welcomed us so warmly in Milan. 
Heeseung: I think the best thing is just the fact that we get to attend these fashion shows. It’s so different when you’re there in person compared to watching a video. You can really feel what the designer is trying to convey.

WWD: How would you describe your personal style? 
Sunoo: These days I think I’ve been wearing hoodies, for an effortless look.
Sunghoon: I like dressing up, and adding a little something extra to the look. Opposite of effortless: accessorizing and accessorizing. 
Ni-ki: I like to look hip, and I like vintage pieces. 
Jungwon: I like oversized clothes. Even when we first debuted, I liked oversized clothes. And before, I used to wear everything oversized, but these days, I’ll wear a regular-sized top but with oversized, baggy bottoms.
Jay: There are a lot of things I like, but recently I’ve been into retro and newtro… Like ’70s and ’80s styles. Rockstuds, things like that. 

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 15: ENHYPEN attend Prada Fall/Winter 2023/2024 Menswear Fashion Show on January 15, 2023 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Jacopo M. Raule/Getty Images for Prada)

Enhypen at Prada fall 2023 menswear show Jan. 15 in Milan.

Getty Images for Prada

WWD: Why do you think fashion is so important in K-pop?
Jake: Being on stage and showing yourself is a major element of K-pop, so we put a lot of thought into fashion and what we wear. And I think the public also keeps a close eye on the fashion and visual aspects. 
Heeseung: That and it’s also a big part of how we portray ourselves. A certain outfit can make you look a certain way, according to the style. Because we’re able to change that based on how we want to be perceived, I think it’s a really important part of being an idol.

WWD: How would you describe the fashion you wore when promoting “Dark Blood”?
Sunoo: For “Dark Blood,” we had outfits that are similar to what vampires wear, like suits. In the music video, we had pearl vests, and we tried a lot of new things. Things that had a vampire vibe to it. 
Jungwon: We had an artisan create the clothes custom for us. I think the fans may have been intrigued by the outfits at first, but we were so proud of them. It was heavy but we loved it.

WWD: You just kicked off your U.S. tour. How was the first show in L.A.?
Sunghoon: Doing a show in a stadium in L.A., it felt really different. I think the Engenes really enjoyed themselves too, so we were also extra excited. It gave us strength. It was so fun on stage.

WWD: What’s your favorite song on the set list and why? 
Sunoo: For me, these days, it’s “Karma.” It’s not that I didn’t like it before. I had other favorites, but we’ve set it as the last song of the show, and I think it fits well with the American vibe, too. It makes me feel like we’re closing out the show on a high note. 
Jay: My personal favorite is “Blockbuster.” When working on the set list together with our label, we wanted to clearly differentiate this concert from the last one, and we put it near the beginning to make a large impact. With that I think the fans also enjoyed it, and the song itself is really good, too. I think it’s my favorite. 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 22: Enhypen visits the GRAMMY Museum Stage during We Bridge at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on April 22, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Enhypen visits the Grammy Museum Stage during We Bridge at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on April 22 in Las Vegas.

Getty Images for The Recording A

WWD: Do you have a favorite outfit from the tour?
Ni-ki: The encore outfits. I think compared to the other outfits — the other outfits were created by our label to match the songs, but for the encore, I requested the style that I wanted, baggy jeans and a shirt. I was glad I was able to wear that. It was my favorite. 
Sunghoon: I think only Ni-ki requested. I didn’t know we could do that.  We actually changed the encore outfits for the North American tour. 
Jungwon: We change it for each leg of the tour. 
Ni-ki: The merch as well. 

WWD: What’s the biggest difference between this tour and the last?  
Heeseung: I think the set list. Last time, with the encore, I think it was 18 or 19 songs. But this time, we have 24 songs or so. I think that’s a difference stamina-wise. And compared to last time, I think the times on stage are longer, with shorter rest breaks in between. 

What are you looking forward to most with the rest of the tour ahead of you?
Heeseung: Each city has a different culture. In L.A., they were barking and going “woo woo woo.”

WWD: I think that’s been trending in the U.S. these days.
Sunghoon: Heeseung actually came to us during the show and saying “I think the fans are suddenly booing us.”
Heeseung: I had no idea. I always say Engenes’ voices are angelic, but suddenly I hear wooing, so I was a bit confused. But I later found out that it was positive.
Jungwon: They did a lot of this, too. (Stomps the ground)

WWD: Right! That was so loud.
Jungwon: I thought it was an earthquake. 
Heeseung: I’m looking forward to experiencing things like that with each city.
Jake: The kick-off in L.A. was so great. I want to take this energy and enjoy carrying it out safely throughout the remaining cities.

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