LOS ANGELES — Mattel Inc. will launch a wave of Barbie-inspired apparel and accessories collections this fall as part of collaborations with Lord & Taylor, Forever 21 and Los Angeles-based contemporary label Wildfox.
This story first appeared in the August 15, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The partnerships, led by Jessica Dunne, Mattel’s general manager and senior vice president, consumer products, signify an effort to reestablish Barbie as a fashion icon to today’s consumer.
“I think what people pay attention to is Barbie the toy, and what we’re trying to focus on is that Barbie is a brand much bigger than an 11-inch fashion doll,” Dunne explained. “This fall really is the start of what is a multiyear focus and priority for us.”
Taking inspiration from Barbie’s wardrobe throughout the decades, each collection harkens back to a different era, with Wildfox hitting an Eighties beat, Forever 21 channeling the Nineties, and Lord & Taylor evoking the more conservative Fifties and Sixties.
“Once we gave ourselves liberty to look outside of the fashion doll…it really inspired us to go back in the archives,” Dunne explained, adding that she “was blown away with the quality of the work that’s been done over the years.”
Slated to hit stores Sept. 5, Forever 21’s capsule will be the first and largest of the three, totaling 29 stockkeeping units in the sportswear, sleepwear, outerwear, cosmetics and accessories categories. The pink, white, gray and black collection features graphic prints and Barbie-inspired writing, and will retail between $3.90 and $24.90 at Forever 21 locations worldwide and on the brand’s e-commerce site.
Vintage-inspired brand Wildfox took a different design approach, aiming to re-create actual outfits that Malibu Barbie donned in the Eighties, such as a pale blue high-waisted bikini with pink, circular sunglasses. The retro resort 2014 collection, dubbed “The Wildfox Dreamhouse,” will offer eight sku’s in the sportswear, swimwear, denim and sunglasses categories, and will launch Nov. 15.
“Barbie meant a lot to me growing up, and with this company I am basically playing grown-up Barbie all the time,” said Kimberley Gordon, Wildfox cofounder and creative director. “I thought it would be fun to imagine if those [dolls] were real, and to bring the Barbie Dream House to life.”
The collection will retail between $37.50 and $183 at high-end and online retailers, including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Planet Blue, Revolve Clothing and Fred Segal.
Totaling 12 pieces, Lord & Taylor’s Barbie-themed sleepwear collection is aimed at a slightly older customer, channeling the more conservative aesthetic of the Fifties and Sixties. The collection will launch Sept. 14 within the retailer’s top 10 doors, including markets such as New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and will retail between $32 and $46.
“We have fans of Barbie of all ages, and [many] girls that [once] played with them have grown up,” Dunne explained. “We really wanted to make sure that we put together consumer approaches that reached all ages.”