It’s pretty obvious at first glance that SHINee’s latest comeback was more than a little inspired by the late 80’s / early 90’s. The MV for “1 of 1” isn’t particularly subtle about this concept and comes complete with big shoulders, gold chains, and a grainy filter. They even packaged the album as a cassette (because everyone still has a cassette player hanging around right?) the only thing they’re really missing is the static lines of a VCR struggling to play. But the fact that this concept is so in your face is one of the things I love about SHINee; they never half ass their concepts, it’s always all or nothing with those boys. And I think that really helps sell their, almost always, ridiculous concepts. What’s so great about this concept is that a lot of the 90’s style trends are back in trend for Spring/ Summer 2017. Even though the 90’s are currently on trend, it’s still difficult to think SHINee don’t look a little ridiculous in “1 of 1”. But as I said earlier, SHINee are all about giving their concepts their all, so was all the effort really worth it this time?

Early 90’s Versace ad

To really be able to answer this question, first we need to look at the era they’re trying to recreate and what, style wise, made it stand out. The first few years of the 90’s, just like the first years of any decade, were riddled with the leftovers of 80’s styling. You see, the problem is fashion doesn’t really care what year it is, it’s always changing and evolving, and at a much faster pace than it did a few decades ago. So fashion doesn’t simply change because the 80’s have stopped and it’s now the 90’s. But, fashion is always changing. By the time the 90’s rolled around, the looks of the 80’s had already started to change as well.  This is important because the main themes behind people’s mentality were complete opposites between the 80’s and 90’s. Whereas 80’s were all about power and wealth, and showing it off, the 90’s were concerned about the world and everything that was happening in it (thank you internet)!  And these mentalities were reflected in the fashion trends that were the most successful during these decades. The 80’s were bright, in your face colours, lots of gold jewelry (especially for men), and suits that were built to make you look bigger than you actually were (big shoulders 100% = power, everyone knows that). The 90’s on the other hand, were all about minimal looks and styling, simple patterns (if any at all), more subdued colours (for the most part at least), and a lot more of a streamlined silhouette.

So if the mentality between the 80’s and the 90’s were complete opposites, but the end of the 80’s/beginning of the 90’s were a blend of the two styles, why am I bringing it all up? Because this is where we find “1 of 1”. Not quite in the 80’s, not quite in the 90’s. You need to know about the mentality of the 80’s because it still had a lot of influence as it was fading out. But this is where the mentality of the 90’s starts arising as well. It’s these two clashing mindsets that made the styling for this era so recognizable. And “1 of 1” did a fantastic job showcasing all the little details that was the overlapping of these opposite mindsets. Just look at the first few clips of the MV! It starts with a close up of girls with chokers, hoop earrings, and berry lipstick, all staples of the 90’s. The first few clips of this video are used to confirm that it’s the 90’s we’re in, and that the 80’s are over. As the MV continues on we get to see a lot of little 80’s details as well, just a reminder that the 80’s were still relevant in the early 90’s.  What is really fantastic about this video is that the small details aren’t in SHINee’s outfits (not to say they are not detailed), but in the women filling the screen of this MV. There’s a fair amount of extras in this MV and they all have different outfits, aside from the backup dancers, and every single one of them looks like it’s from the late 80’s/early 90’s. One of the poor girls is even wearing a fanny pack (let this never be a trend to come back). But what about the actual members of SHINee?

As previously mentioned, it’s all the fine details that really make the difference in this video between jumping on trend with the 90’s, and what this video really is, a love letter to the era. The detail that really caught my eye, was the different genres that they covered in this video. As we all know, there is no longer one type of style anymore, although there is generally one main idea for mass appeal, what used to be referred to as “counter cultures” have been huge for years and no longer as “counter” as they once were. But in the 80’s/90’s these counter cultures were just starting out, and creating styles that are mainstream today. Think grunge, punk, and hip hop (and some people think music isn’t important!). As well as these counter cultures we also see the more mass approved preppy look, and the business casual look that was just beginning to emerge.

Bender from “Breakfast Club” : 1985

Jonghyun

For the most part, each member of SHINee has a style they were given and they stick to it fairly well. Jonghyun has taken the role of the grunge/soft punk. It’s not really concrete enough to qualify as one more than the other, although it probably leans closer to grunge, but you can see the influences. And it makes sense why the styling wasn’t taken too far in any of these directions. Punk would be too edgy and make Jonghyun stick out too much from everyone else, whereas full grunge would dive too far into the 90’s and take away from the given era. These looks would both take away from the other styling and would destroy the cohesive look that they succeeded in creating for the MV. I applaud the thought that clearly went into Jonghyun’s styling, and keeping it from going too far in any direction. You can see this great balancing act in his ripped jeans, his leather jackets, and his jean jacket, with bonus safety pins.

Key

THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR — Season 1 — Pictured: Will Smith as William ‘Will’ Smith — Photo by: Chris Cuffaio/NBCU Photo Bank

Key has most clearly taken on Hip Hop styling, with his many large chains, bucket hats, and striped overalls with one strap undone. This was most likely one of the easier looks to style, since hip hop still has a massive impact on today’s styling. In fact Hip Hop has an even bigger impact on today’s styling than it did in the 80’s and 90’s. Although Hip Hop has been making a big impact since it’s been around, it is more in the mainstream today than ever before. What I love about Key’s outfits is that they’re clearly 80’s/ 90’s influenced, whereas today’s hip hop influence looks very different. The overalls, the bucket hat, and the massive chains, although still seen today, they are iconic of the era this “1 of 1” is referencing. Although Key is much more in your face about it, he is not the only one with hip hop inspired styling choices.

Minho

B.I.G. wearing a Coogi sweater

Minho’s styling is also very much inspired by Hip Hop, which makes sense considering him and Key are the group’s rappers. While Key got the Hip Hop styling that may still be seen today, Minho received a much more classically 80’s/90’s hip hop look.  The super bright shirt with the bold pattern seems to be somewhere between 80’s Versace, and a Coogi sweater (which were made popular by The Notorious B.I.G. who rapped about the sweater company in his single “Hypnotize” in 1997). The wide tie Minho rocks with this shirt is still extremely 80’s/90’s, but a little less hip hop, and much closer to the preppy look.

Onew

Taemin

The preppy look, worn mostly by Taemin, and Onew, although Key dabbles in it a little as well, is probably the easiest to pin point, as everyone has an idea of what a prep is. The connotation between preppy in the 80’s/90’s and now are rather different, though, the idea is still similar, even if the silhouettes, patterns, and colours have all changed. Much like how Key and Minho showed us an evolving hip hop look and a stagnant look, Onew and Taemin have done the same with the preppy look. Onew’s preppy look, is really nice, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone walking down the street wearing it. He has a lot more subdued colours, especially compared to Minho, with a printed jacket, jeans, and a shirt with a little tie at the neck. It looks casual, yet still well put together. Taemin, on the other hand, is wearing a bold print sweater vest, over another bold print shirt. The tops are both in the same colour family as Onew’s, but the prints, and the sweater vest, date this outfit a lot. The penny loafers, and bow at the neck both help to finish the very in your face preppy look (not that a sweater vest needs more help to look preppy). Key also has a preppy look in this MV, and I honestly had to watch the video multiple times to realize it was him since it’s such a different look to all of his hip hop inspired ones. He’s only in it for a little while, so I find it odd that he even had the costume change, but maybe he just really wanted to wear the outfit so they made it happen for him.

Shinee 5

The look that all five members wear is the business casual look. Which makes sense as business was very important in the 80’s (remember the money mentality), but with the mentality of the 90’s rolling in, business casual started to become a much bigger thing. Unfortunately the styling of the suits didn’t change for this shift in mentality, only how they were accessorized.  The suit styling for this era was all about being big and bold. Showing off all that money you had. This is why we see the big shoulders, big lapels, wide ties, and most jackets (all in this video), were double breasted. All the gold chains, bracelets, and rings were also status symbols to show how much money you had. SHINee kept all these styling details from the 90’s, but made them more casual by forgoing the ties with suits and adding coloured shirts under the suits instead of a white button up. This worked really well for keeping the MV in the late 80’s/ early 90’s era instead of falling back into the 80’s, especially since the suit styling didn’t particularly change since this was the suits last hurrah until very recently.

Many different 80’s/90’s inspired looks

Of course there are many styles that work under all or most of the different styling categories. Because if every style was completely different you wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the era as easily would you? I found a lot of these looks were given more to the extras, but that makes sense as these are simple styles that work for the era and won’t be nearly as flashy as the members so they can still be in the video and work off the vibe of the era without stealing the show at all. These looks include street wear, although a lot of the time more of a hip hop look, this changed in the 90’s and street wear was very popular for the masses. Stone washed denim always screams 80’s/90’s and was worn by all members of SHINee. Minho has a pair of Ray-bans he wears with both his suit and his coloured top, showing that Ray-bans were a statement piece for everyone in this era (much like they still work for everyone now).   

Unfortunately, not every outfit or piece does manage to make the cut in this MV. Although as a whole I think the styling was great and the attention to detail was fantastic, there was one style so wrong it took away from the video for me.  Minho and Jonghyun’s skinny trousers throw off the entire “big and bold” look of the 80’s/90’s. These are clearly a staple of more modern styling, not the 80’s or 90’s. They can somewhat be excused though, as it is a more flattering look on them, but it is mildly distracting when you know the trousers should be much baggier.

Since there’s only two real fouls in the styling for the chosen era I think they did an amazing job with for “1 of 1”. It really does come across as a love letter to the 90’s more than simply jumping on a bandwagon. My favourite part about this whole concept might be how their follow up comeback, “Tell Me What To Do”, was all 90’s grunge, and follows the path set beautifully. “1 of 1” is the end of the 80’s/ start of the 90’s, and “Tell Me What To Do” carries us farther into the 90’s when grunge had really set off and was everywhere. Yet again SHINEE has left a lasting impression for a MV you won’t forget anytime soon.