The current Barbiecore trend is thought to have gotten its start in 2019, fueled by fans on Pinterest and then Tiktok and Etsy. It has only gained steam since then. The brand, launched in 1959, has a midcentury-modern sensibility that is attractive to many consumers, as well as the nostalgic appeal of a favorite childhood toy, and it lends itself to memes and other humorous takes. It also fits with an on-trend Y2K style reminiscent of the Legally Blonde era. And the hot pink, magenta, fuchsia, and other pink hues, which are the most notable feature of the trend, have resonated with people who want to add the joy of color to their lives during recent hard times.
Mattel and its Barbie licensing and marketing initiatives have helped solidify the trend, too. Anticipation for the Barbie movie in July 2023—especially after the first stills came out last summer—has been a factor, as has the 60th anniversary of the Barbie Dreamhouse this year. The reimagining of the brand over the past few years to add more diversity and female empowerment has also contributed to its high profile. And of course there are the many official collaborations with fashion labels, from luxury to streetwear, which have occurred throughout Barbie’s lifetime but have proliferated of late.
A significant number of collaborations beyond the official Mattel efforts are inspired by the trend, sometimes for an entire collection and other times for a couple of key items. Following are a few recent examples, each called out by fashion publications, reviewers, fans, and/or the brands themselves for their Barbiecore appeal. Pieces in the collections skew toward miniskirts, swimwear, loungewear, purses, and accessories such as the doll would wear, but their overriding feature is that bright pink:
- Alice + Olivia’s collection with Slip, a maker of good-for-your-skin turbans, scrunchies, face coverings, pillowcases, and other items made from silk, includes a Barbiecore-friendly range of scrunchies, sleep masks, and hair wraps in various shades and patterns of bright pink.
- Lauren Luyendyk, best known as a contestant on The Bachelor, paired with Cupshe for an apparel and accessories collection for women and girls that includes a bright fuchsia romper and several ruffly pink tulle skirts and dresses, among other pieces.
- Bella Hadid’s collaboration with the online fashion shop About You features, amid a palette of mostly black, beige, cabernet, sage, and white, a number of pink pieces, including blouses, short-sleeved shirts, knitted crop tops and skirts, and other items. The “Grace” shirt is most emblematic of the trend and has been called out in reviews.
- Singer Avril Lavigne paired with Killstar for an alt-rock, skate-inspired collection of crop tops, joggers, and bralettes that is reminiscent of Y2K style—her top era for record sales—and incorporates plenty of bubblegum pink, along with black and orange, overlaid with skeleton-themed patterns. It is described by one reviewer as “Barbiecore meets spooky season.”
Among Barbie’s many official collaboration partners, meanwhile, are pajama maker PJ Salvage, for sleep sets; EMU Australia for pink slippers and boots; home goods brand Backdrop for Barbie Dreamhouse paint and wall coverings in pink, purple, and teal; Canadian fashion label Hilary MacMillan for ready-to-wear apparel for women and girls; loungewear and apparel brand Barefoot Dreams for a hoodie, bike shorts, robe, beach towel, mask, scrunchie, and sock set, also inspired by the Dreamhouse; and Maserati for a limited-edition, hot pink Maserati Grecale that is one of the luxury items in Neiman Marcus’ fantasy gift catalog for 2022.
Watch for this month’s Raugust Communications e-newsletter, hitting your inboxes next Tuesday, November 15, 2022. The Licensing Topic of the Month will examine some recent innovative retail partnerships, while the Datapoint research spotlight will offer an analysis of how experiential configurations have been evolving. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can sign up here.