Shoppers are snapping up Barbie hoop earrings, perfume, jumpsuits, and dresses as retailers seek to cash in on Friday’s Barbie film release, reigniting the craze for the plastic doll and her hot pink, sequin-adorned universe.
With many consumers spending less amid a cost of living squeeze, retailers are jumping at the opportunity to persuade shoppers to buy more expensive items and boost their revenues.
The vast range of products and brand tie-ups, many aimed at adults, are a bet on the nostalgia trip that Barbie represents for many who played with the doll as children.
Mattel, which owns the brand, aims for the film to renew the doll’s nostalgic appeal, while also embedding Barbie into the psyche of a new generation.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen this many brand partnerships coming out of one film,” said Jo Ashdown, managing partner at Mando-Connect, a brand partnership agency that is part of WPP.
Zara’s Barbie collection launched on Monday does feature 17 children’s garments and accessories, including a hot-pink one-piece swimsuit, a backpack, and sneakers, but the offering for women is much broader, with 85 items.
Men, too, can buy into the trend with a fuchsia suit, or cowboy boots and denim shirt to match the styles worn by Ryan Gosling in his role as Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken.
Apparel and footwear brands from H&M to Primark, Gap, Superga and Crocs, have launched Barbie collections.
A Zara Barbie eau de parfum, hoop earrings, and pink cropped hoodie were all out of stock by Wednesday on the brand’s UK site. A fuchsia double-breasted suit blazer for men, priced at $116.04, was also out of stock.
A Gap Barbie hoodie for women was available only in size XXS online, while a pair of Barbie Crocs, priced at $59.99 – $10 more than normal Crocs – was sold out on the Crocs website. Luggage brand Beis had a waiting list for all three sizes of suitcases in a Barbie pink, priced at a premium to its usual colour range.
Walmart pitched Barbie dolls in varying skin tones and hairstyles at $45 to collectors.
The craze stretches beyond retailers with Hyatt Hotels and Hilton offering Barbie-themed hotel suites in cities including Bogota, Colombia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The sheer amount of merchandise – from Barbie rugs to Barbie toothbrushes – raises a possibility of the brand overstretching, but a renewed emphasis on diversity and inclusivity from Mattel, retail partners, and the film itself, could provide enough novelty to keep people interested.
“Everybody can be a Barbie or a Ken,” said James Zahn, editor of trade magazine The Toy Book. “I think that’s helped grow the brand without oversaturating it.”
- Reporting by Helen Reid, Savyata Mishra, Siddharth Cavale; Editing by Nick Zieminski, of Reuters.