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Bright idea: Barbie clothes for human females

“When a teen or 20-something is carrying an Anya Hindmarch, Barbie bag it’ll reinforce Barbie as relevant, cool brand for little girls. Little girls are growing up faster than ever and looking to adults and teens for inspiration, and Barbie is their aspiration.”

— Richard Dickson, senior VP of global consumer marketing and entertainment for Mattel Brands

This is sad. Who on earth hired the team at Mattel that came up with this dumb, dumb, dumb idea? I think this is back-to-the-drawing-board time. At the rate this economy is going, a “high-aspirational” clothing line based on a freaking doll is a real loser concept.

I’m no expert, but I would rate Mattel’s stock a “sell” right now.

Toy maker Mattel Inc., known for Barbie fashion dolls, is expanding the plastic icon’s domain to include high-end designer clothing and accessories for adult women. The merchandise, which includes jeans, shirts, handbags and jewelry, is designed by well-known fashion designers and will sell under the name Barbie Luxe.

Using Barbie as their “muse,” designers like Anna Sui, Anya Hindmarch, Citizens of Humanity, Judith Leiber, Nickel, Not Rational, Paper Denim & Cloth, Stila and Tarina Tarantino have added Barbie-esque touches to their designs, such as pink stitching on jeans or a retro silhouette on a cameo pendant.

“Our target market is the fashionista,” said Richard Dickson, senior vice president of global consumer marketing and entertainment for Mattel Brands. “From teens through adults in their 20’s and 30’s. It’s not Mattel’s usual target audience.”

Weak sales of Barbie dolls, a lackluster retail environment, and strong competition have hurt Mattel recently. The company is working to raise Barbie’s non-toy profile as well as tap a grown-up fan base as part of a long term plan to reinvigorate the toy brand…Mattel is hoping that the clothing and accessories will catch on with trendsetting teens and women and that popularity will trickle down to Barbie the doll.

The items aren’t cheap, with jeans priced at $176 and a 3/4 sleeve hooded sweatshirt at $140, and this helps add to the cachet of the brand, which is designed to be “aspirational.”

Hat tip to Blender Kris of ClassicDykes.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding