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Come on Barbie, Let’s Go Shopping

It’s Barbie’s world this summer and we’re all living in it.

A menagerie of pop culture influences is coming together to form Barbiecore, a new fashion “core” centered on the iconic doll’s playful fashion and signature shade of pink.

Pink is flexing its power at retail across fashion, accessories and beauty. A new report by product intelligence company Trendalytics says pink blazers—popular for both work and play—have an average of over 21,000 online searches. Searches for the versatile piece are up 53 percent compared to last year. Interest in pink footwear is rising as well with searches for pink heels up 59 percent to last year. In beauty, hot pink lipstick as well as pink lip gloss, mascara and eyeshadow are top beauty trends Trendalytics is seeing that tie into Barbiecore.

There’s plenty of pink fashion in the market. Though pink has been a popular statement color on and off the red carpet since 2019, Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli cemented the color as a must-have for 2022 with his rose-colored Fall/Winter 22-23 collection. Staged in a monochromatic setting with pink-clad brand ambassador Zendaya in the front row, the brand presented a dual-gender collection swathed almost entirely in “Valentino Pink PP,” a hue that color specialist Pantone developed exclusively for the Italian label. By stripping the palette down to a single shade, Piccioli set out to do more with less, “maximizing expressive possibilities in the apparent lack of possibilities,” the show notes stated.

A menagerie of pop culture influences is coming together to form Barbiecore, a new fashion “core” centered Barbie's signature shade of pink.
Valentino WWD

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Celebrities including Anne Hathaway, Sebastian Stan, Glenn Close and Florence Pugh have worn some of the Valentino runway looks, while the fashion house’s Tan-Go platforms in patent pink leather have also been a hit with influencers such as Audrey Peters on TikTok. Trendalytics said 36 percent of these styles, which have a towering 6.1-inch heel and 2.2-inch platform, are sold out right now at retailers including Net-A-Porter and FarFetch. Versace’s Medusa Aevitas embellished fuchsia satin platform pumps are also driving interest for statement Barbiecore heels.

A menagerie of pop culture influences is coming together to form Barbiecore, a new fashion “core” centered Barbie's signature shade of pink.
Versace’s Medusa Aevitas shoes WWD

Barbie’s plastic sheen is a source of inspiration as well. Dubbed “Polly Pocket sandals” after another nostalgic toy on TikTok, Trendalytics said jelly sandals are also a growing style with luxury brands including Gucci and Chanel playing into this trend. Contemporary brands from Simon Miller to Tory Burch are also coming up with their own interpretations.

Jelly sandals are a “high volume stable trend” that peaks every year in June, according to Trendalytics.

Recent collaborations underscore Barbie’s universal appeal. Forever 21 recently dropped a collaboration with Barbie which featured crop tops, mini-skirts, denim shorts and Barbie-themed accessories.

In January, the French luxury fashion label Balmain unveiled a 70-piece Barbie-themed ready-to-wear collection. Inspired by the “Barbie universe’s familiar bright iconography,” the collection spanned satin, tweed and denim jackets, fishtail evening gowns, graphic tees and hoodies, and accessories. Three one-of-a-kind Barbie x Balmain NFTs were also developed as part of the collaboration.

Hollywood is pulling string as well. The first promotional images released by Warner Bro. Pictures of Margot Robbie as Barbie in the 2023 Greta Gerwig-directed film “Barbie” escalated interest in the aesthetic. Mentions of Robbie in character are capturing approximately six times more engagement than other posts mentioning the actress, Trendalytics reported.

Meanwhile, paparazzi shots of Robbie as Barbie and Ken, played by Ryan Gosling, drove Instagram and TikTok into a nostalgic tizzy with many people reminiscing about their favorite Barbie franchises.

Bright, nostalgic and kitsch, Barbie fits right into the post-pandemic zeitgeist for all things upbeat, familiar and comforting.

In December, Malaysia’s Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur hotel teamed up with Mattel to stage 14 Barbie-themed rooms and suites, each one decked out in pink and representing “signature themes” like “Barbie Fantasy” and “Barbie You Can Be Anything.” A Barbie Cafe served breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails.

This summer, CAMP, Barbie and RVshare are teaming up to give Barbie fans the experience of vacationing in Barbie’s real life 2022 DreamCamper. The first-of-its-kind hot-pink mobile home is decked out with pink campsite equipment and Barbie toys and merchandise.

Barbie herself is staying up to date with current trends and movements, including sustainability. Mattel has unveiled its first Barbie doll collection made from recycled ocean-bound plastic. The company aims to use 100 percent recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all its products and packaging by 2030.