21 THE ALTER EGO
AS THE FIRST MEMBER of BTS to release a solo album, 2022’s critically lauded
Jack in the Box, J-Hope understood that expectations were sky-high when he stepped onstage alone for the first time, at Lollapalooza. Unsurprisingly, the singer and rapper delivered, both with his excellent new music and the newfound edge of his look that night. J-Hope literally had fans gasping at his all-black Louis Vuitton garb, drop shoulders, distressed T-shirt, biker-style gloves, and oversize logo-embossed denim. “I realized I wanted to show more dancing, which you can consider as my main foundation,” J-Hope told Rolling Stone last year, underscoring his feeling that onstage silhouettes mean everything. Now performing on his own, his style is bigger, bolder, and louder than ever. “I realized that it could be tough to tell some of these stories through music with the existing image and vibe of J-Hope,” he said. “I wanted people to realize that J-Hope isn’t limited to bright things. He can do these concepts and has a wide spectrum. I wanted to call attention to this ability by challenging myself.” J-Hope’s all-black ensemble made him look tougher than we would’ve expected a few years ago, and it’s clearly part of a larger aesthetic transformation he’s going through as he stakes out solo territory. In the symbolism-heavy video for his recent single, “Arson,” he stumbles through a post-apocalyptic world, emerging from smoke and fire with his clothes scorched and torn-looking, decidedly cooler than before he went in. “It has the fire, the passion that I wanted this album to possess,” he said. J-Hope is writing a chapter of his career, and fashion is a huge part of it.