Squid Game’s impact can’t be ignored, especially when it comes to fashion

squid game

On its way to becoming Netflix’s most popular show to date, Squid Game has set off a wave of fashion trends inspired by the dystopian Korean game show.

From Louis Vuitton, to online retailer Zavvi brands are cashing in on the cultural impact of Squid Game. On Wednesday, Louis Vuitton announced that HoYeon Jung, who plays main character Sae-Byeok, a refugee from North Korea with an icy facade, would be an ambassador for the luxury house. A leading move not only because of her popularity but because of Jung’s ongoing career as a model, making her runway debut for Louis Vuitton in 2016 and modelling for their pre-fall campaign in 2017.

HoYeon Jung’s instagram following rocketed from 400,000 followers to over 19m since the release of squid game. In her bio, a link to her profile on models.com states she has modelled in campaigns for Chanel, Fendi, Hermes, and Tory Burch. In an interview with W Korea, Jung reveals she was in New York for New York Fashion Week when she sent in her audition tape for the hit Korean drama.

With halloween coming up there’s sure to be many people dressing up as Squid Game characters, creating the perfect opportunity for fashion and apparel brands to capitalise by releasing Squid Game inspired clothing. The demand is definitely there as according to data from Lyst, within days of Squid Game’s release global searches for retro-inspired tracksuits (+97 per cent), white slip-on sneakers (+145 per cent), red boiler suits (+62 per cent) and white numbered T-shirts (+35 per cent) have all spiked. Vans are also the most viewed slip-on sneakers over the past week, while demand for the colour teal is up 130 per cent week-on-week. 

Netflix have an official merch collection featuring teal green t-shirts stamped with the number 456, t-shirts printed with ‘story art, and a range of t-shirts that can be customised. Unfortunately Netflix missed the mark, when it came to more costume oriented apparel like the guards fuchsia jumpsuits or the teal green tracksuits the players wore, perhaps playing it too safe, and leaving the door open for these items to be offered elsewhere unofficially. Online Retailer Zavvi have released a limited collection of t-shirts, hoodies, trainers, and even a blanket with imagery and graphics from the show. Whilst yesterday Streetwear brand Emotionally Unavailable teased an upcoming collaboration with Netflix on a Squid Game inspired collection on their instagram.

squid game

It’s not just fashion that Squid Game has got its tentacles into. On TikTok, the show has sparked the Dalgona Candy challenge that episode 3 is based on, where contestants are challenged to cut out a shape from a flat honeycomb sweet with just a needle. In music, Spotify reported that Squid Game has inspired thousands of playlists, including music from Jung Jae-il, the composer of the K-drama’s original soundtrack. People are also looking to relive Squid Game IRL, as pop-ups have sprung up in Seoul and Paris hosting versions of the show’s games.

Squid Game’s astronomical success can be attributed in part to the themes presented in the show being in line with the cultural zeitgeist, such as critiquing capitalism. Especially off the back of a lockdown that made working from home more common and had us wondering why it hadn’t been an option sooner. Bringing us to question the sustainability and ethics of many systems we accept as normal. It also taps into the survivalist trend we’re seeing in fashion as we are still dealing with the effects of a global pandemic and growing concern about the environment. Themes which were explored in SS22 collections such as Heliot Emil and Botter who both presented in Paris.

The Squid Game mania might not last much longer than scary season does but with the cliffhanger ending of season one alluding to a second series, even if the hype dies down, with a good sequel we can probably expect a revival.

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