KEN’S EVOLUTION: Following Mattel’s initiative on making Barbie more diverse, it’s now Ken’s turn as the company unveiled 15 new additions to its Ken Fashionistas line to include slim and broad body types and in a range of skin tones and hairstyles.
“By continuing to expand our product line, we are redefining what a Barbie or Ken doll looks like to this generation,” said Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and general manager at Barbie. “Evolving Ken was a natural evolution for the brand and allows girls to further personalize the role they want him to play in Barbie’s world.”
The Fashionistas collection of Kens will consists of three body types, seven skin tones — which includes African-American, Asian, Caucasian and Latino ethnicities — eight eye colors and nine hairstyles with a range of clothing and accessories. The dolls will be sold for 9.99 pounds on barbie.com and on shop.mattel.com.
To coincide with the launch, Machine-A founder and buying director Stavros Karelis has curated a Ken retrospective at his London store on Brewer Street and tapped British men’s wear designer Martine Rose to design a T-shirt. The archive of Ken dolls will be mounted starting June 23 until July 7. Among the dolls on display include a 1991 MC Hammer Ken, a 1992 Totally Hair Ken, a 2009 Ken by Gareth Pugh, a 1981 Sunsational Malibu Ken, a 1982 Dream Date Ken and a 1972 Mod Hair Ken.
“Barbie’s long-lasting influence and existence has been accompanied by Ken, who — like Barbie — goes far and beyond his use just as a doll,” Karelis said. “He becomes a reference point of our culture and reflects the ideas that shaped and shifted our society all these decades since he was first created. This exhibition will be a representation of his landmark moments in history and fashion but also a reminder of how current and relevant Ken is now as he was in 1961. The new crew is a celebration of diversity, something extremely important to me. For that reason, Martine Rose is the perfect designer to create the limited-edition T-shirts to celebrate the new shapes and ethnicities of Ken, a doll whose voice can affect millions of children and adults worldwide even if he doesn’t speak.”
Rose revamped a 1968 image of Ken on a long-sleeve T-shirt. The unisex T-shirt is priced at 50 pounds and will be sold at Machine-A on June 23.