BTS V's 'Butter' Fashion Is Already Iconic —Thanks in Part to This Designer's Hat
Legend has it that everything Kim Taehyung wears instantly sells out.
It's already the song of the summer and for one hat designer, BTS's 'Butter' is now the song of the year.
Ruslan Baginskiy experienced the BTS effect firsthand last weekend when Kim Taehyung —the velvet-voiced, devastatingly handsome baritone idol who goes by the stage name V — appeared in a teaser photo for 'Butter' wearing the designer's hat. ARMY swooped in and depleted the hat's worldwide stock at whiplash speed.
Can you blame them? The handmade straw boater is beautiful, but seeing it on V while he oh-so-casually bites at the gold and pearl chains elevates it into "icon" territory. Did I involuntarily whisper, "I won't survive this era," out loud when this exquisite portrait rolled into my timeline? Of course I did.
To celebrate the smooth-as-butter success, we talked to the Ukranian milliner about his passion for design, how warmly ARMY embraced him, genderless fashion, and, of course, how BTS inspires him.
Tell me a little about how this happened. Did BTS's stylists reach out to you? Or was this a complete surprise?
"It was a complete surprise to all our team! We work directly with BlackPink and Red Velvet's stylists, but BTS's team was out of our radar. Probably, they bought the hat at Revolve, Farfetch, Mytheresa, Holt Renfrew, Harrods, or somewhere else. It's kind of funny that BTS published the picture when we were waiting for the order at a new Korean barbecue place at the street food market."
What was your initial reaction when you saw V wearing your design?
"We were speechless, because in one moment our Instagram blew up. We realized what happened in one second thanks to all the comments from ARMY members. And of course, we turned on the music and started to listen to all BTS songs."
What was it like to experience the BTS effect in real time? The hat V wore is sold out everywhere, your social media engagement skyrocketed. Was that surreal?
"There are not that many people in the world who can impact the brand that much, and we have always been curious how the BTS-effect works. And now we know: Tons of comments, DMs, reactions, reposts, fan-groups tags, and sales of course. We had no idea that ARMY is so supportive, that's a real phenomenon.
And yes, the hat is sold out everywhere. The double-chain boater is handcrafted in Kyiv from Ecuador straw, and even if we want, we just can't produce as many hats as K-pop fans want. But we hope it will come back to stock soon."
This hat in particular was inspired by thinking back on "tender summer moments". Can you tell me more about what inspired your spring/summer collection?
"SS21 collection is designed with functionality in mind. Thanks to the chain strap, the boater hat will never be blown with a gust of wind. You can wear the pearls-embellished chain behind and let it lie on your hair as a highlight, and it's also removable so you can use it like a necklace. One of the brand's goals is to revive the hat-wearing tradition, and summer is the best season for this. You should agree that a straw hat is an ultimate summer essential. It's one of those associations that comes to mind first, along with the beach, ripe fruit, tan lines, and Aperol Spritz on a restaurant terrace."
BlackPink has also worn your designs (most recently in their "Ice Cream" music video). I'm interested in why you think K-pop idols and their stylists are so drawn to your aesthetic.
"We also thought about it, and it seems to us that this is a two-sided story. Every year the brand becomes stronger in the Asian market, and now we are represented in more than 30 stores. Probably, thanks to this, stylists noticed us. On the other hand, it is not a coincidence that after the BlackPink moment we were contacted by stores where we wanted to be represented for many years. But most importantly, we believe in our product and we are glad to see such cool names in our #RBgang."
Follow-up question: are you inspired by K-pop?
"To be honest, I really like the way BTS use their fame and influence. Their charity projects, public appearances, where they raise the most controversial social topics, the way they interact with fans…. All these parts of their story are really inspiring."
BTS are really global — they are Korean artists, but sing in Korean, Japanese, and English. Their personal styles pull from American streetwear, modernized Korean hanboks, Parisian couture, Italian sportswear, British tailoring, etc. How does that resonate with you as a Ukranian designer?
"Our stories are pretty similar from this perspective. We are Ukrainian brand which is known all over the world, you can buy Ruslan Baginskiy hats in 23 countries. And you know, we were pretty surprised that Ukrainian BTS ARMY is that huge! We received several hundred messages from fans, they all were extremely happy that BTS has become closer to Ukraine."
RM said last week in Rolling Stone that, "The labels of what being masculine is, is an outdated concept. It is not our intention to break it down. But if we are making a positive impact, we are very thankful. We live in an age where we shouldn't have those labels or have those restrictions." Given BTS's history of genderless dressing, how does that message resonate with you?
"This message is totally in line with our philosophy. Yes, our hats are usually presented in the women's section, but I consider the brand as gender neutral. Why can't men wear a leather baker boy cap or a straw fedora hat? And they do wear them actually! Even the most embellished styles, and I love this fact. 30-40% of my wardrobe is women's clothes, because the only question is whether you like it or not. What else matters?"
Consider this your permission to wear all your fanciest hats, all summer long. And why not? We've all been in a year long sweatpants cocoon so let's do it. Let's get whimsical, let's get fancy, let's dress like K-pop idols and dance.
Join the #RBgang and preorder what we can only assume is V's new favorite hat at ruslanbaginskiy.com or Revolve.
Join ARMY by streaming 'Butter' all damn summer.