Thanks to the potent marketing force of director Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, 2023 has seen the world drenched in pink.
From #barbiecore amassing in 1.61 million views, and counting, on Weibo, to #Barbiefashionparty (芭比时尚派对) boasting 33.7 million views on Xiaohongshu, the internet has caught Barbie-fever. Consequently, almost every industry has seen Mattel Creations’ nostalgic intellectual property (IP) star in a plethora of brand collaborations.
Resale site StockX reported to Jing Daily it had seen more sales of Barbie products in July 2023 than any other month in the company’s history, double sales in July 2022.
Already earning over $775 million as one of the highest-grossing movies of the year, Barbie’s influence means high revenue for brands getting in on the fandom. The fact that the Schiaparelli dress the movie’s protagonist Margot Robbie wore at the Los Angeles premiere generated $2.1 million in Media Impact Value alone says it all.
Even though seemingly every brand has jumped on the pink-on-pink bandwagon, luxury fashion has not seen any major Barbie collections like that of Balmain in 2022, or Jeremy Scott’s celebrated Moschino take in 2015.
But Parisian fashion house Chanel did join forces with the official movie to design bespoke pieces. The five looks by creative director Virginie Viard comprise three suits, a dress for Barbie and a ski outfit for Ken, plus quilted bags and accessories such as the iconic charm necklace.
The movie’s official costume designer Jacqueline Durran has also entered the realm of collaboration, partnering with resale platform ThredUP to curate a #Barbiecore Dream Shop. Comprising almost 300 second-hand pieces including belts, bags, tops, and dresses, Durran’s influential costume design for the movie has been translated into a designer collection.
Luxury fashion aside, here we break down the best of the Barbie collab-overload.
On the high street
Among so many names jumping onboard, from Vans, Kipling and Gap, to Pacsun and Nyx, one breaking through the Barbie collaboration noise online is Zara. The Spanish retailer launched a collection on July 21 (the movie release date) inspired by the fashion seen on screen, including a gingham dress, silk pajamas, and other clothing and accessories items.
Shot by famed British artist and photographer Nadia Lee Cohen, the campaign garnered 201,800 likes on Instagram, and “Zara x Barbie” is currently at 94.3 million views on TikTok.
The success of the collaboration is down to its lack of kitsch merchandise. Instead, the collection is composed of a classic portrayal of Robbie’s outfits from the movie, leveraging the trend in a stylish way.
Another winner on the high-street is Crocs, which debuted a Barbiecore collection on July 11. The Mega Crush Clog, with a 2.9 inch platform and covered in glitter, quickly sold out. It’s now on StockX for $185, despite retailing for $85; the Cozzy Sandal and Classic Clog of the same collaboration are also being re-sold at price premiums.
Though Zara, Vans, Nike’s Dunk Low sneaker, and Chanel’s themed efforts with the movie all made their way onto social media in China, the clothing and accessories collection from local fashion brand D’izzit is trending in the mainland.
Starring D’zzit brand ambassador Chinese actress Yu Shuxin, the collection combines the forces of the fandom behind Barbiecore and the moviestar, with the official hashtag notching up 11.25 million reads on Weibo at the time of this writing.
Another hit collaboration in China is the Aussie fast-food chain Grill’d’s hot pink “Dreamburger” meal. The rose-tinted, Barbie-branded burgers have been plastered all over Xiaohongshu by Chinese consumers in Australia; on the platform, #Barbie is at 168.7 million views.
Independent designer Guo Pei’s collaborations in 2022 and 2023 to celebrate the Lunar New Year have also been resurrected in part, with consumers reflecting on the high-end designer dolls.
Barbie mania is reaching all corners of commerce, from fashion all the way through to luxury hospitality. The W Hotel in Osaka, Japan, is one that’s proven a hit among netizens.
The hotel’s themed café, which runs from July 16 to September 15, offers sweet treats and drinks all replicating Barbie merchandise. There are pink cocktails full of ice cream cones and doughnuts, plus love heart cakes and Barbie-stamped macaroons.
Another hitmaker is Malaysia’s Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, which has introduced “the Ultimate Barbie Staycation,” consisting of a Barbie Room and Barbie Suite, and a pink afternoon tea. The Barbie room overlooking Kuala Lumpur city skyline, along with a surprise gift, movie tickets and a Barbie teatime box, is priced at MYR1,500 ($330) per night.
Lastly, Airbnb has brought back its Malibu dreamhouse. The oceanfront Barbie mansion was open for two individual one-night stays for two guests who applied on July 17 to stay between July 21 and 22 free of charge.
Consumers can’t get enough of the pink-drenched, visually delicious real-life playhouse: “Airbnb Barbie” has generated 77.6 billion views on TikTok.
Thanks to Barbie nostalgia being at an all-time high, the IP’s pulling power feels unbeatable. Some consumers might be all pinked out, but this is definitely not the end of Barbiecore.
For more analysis on the latest collaborations, sign up for the Collabs and Drops newsletter here.