Barbie and Balmain worked together to create a very elaborate collaboration. Some may have expected the companies’ collaboration to only include fashion items, and maybe a Barbie doll or two. However, Balmain and Barbie surprised everyone when they announced their collaboration would also dive into the metaverse by releasing an NFT. Balmain had already dabbled in the Metaverse, but this was a first time for Mattel, the company behind Barbie.
Barbie and Balmain were two perfect brands to collaborate when considering fashion and toy brands. Barbie is one of the most fashionable toys out there so it made perfect sense when Balmain, the extremely successful French fashion house, announced a collaboration between the two brands.
The Specifics About the Barbie X Balmain Collaboration
In January, Balmain and Barbie released their collaboration that included a ready-to-wear collection, an accessories line, and a series of NFTs. The collaboration values diversity and inclusion, and this is shown clearly in campaign images that were released before the collection. The collaboration focused on building upon the New French Style that Balmin has been focusing all of its new collections and items around. This further emphasizes the importance of diversity, since it is pulling inspiration directly from the diverse and beautiful looks that are found on Parisian boulevards and avenues today.
The availability of both the clothing collection and the NFT gave both Balmain and Mattel, Barbie’s parent company, more direct involvement. The ready-to-wear and accessory collections could be purchased through Balmain, and the NFT is available only through Mattel Creations.
Ready-to-Wear and Accessories Collection
The ready-to-wear collection included over 50 unique pieces. Although all of the items include some form of pink, the collection for the most part is gender neutral. This shows that the collection is made for anyone and everyone. The items include clothing as well as many accessories. The clothing options ranged from tops, bottoms, and jackets to dresses, shoes, and skirts. Some of the accessories included sunglasses, purses, and much more.
Balmain’s creative director, Oliver Rousteing, is the creative genius behind the collection. It is a perfect mix of the fashion house that is Balmain while staying true to Barbie’s playful vibe and world. Many of the items are the perfect mix between classic Balmain Bags and the iconic Barbie packaging. The prices of the items in the collection range from $295 to $42,494 which definitely reflects the Balmain side of the collaboration.
The collaboration’s creative director was very excited about the collection as he talked about it in an interview, “I am very happy that most of the products in this collection are unisex style and can be worn by both women and men. In the modern world, we should not push ourselves into the gender frame, because Barbie also spreads a message of freedom and self-expression, which really inspires us to forget stereotypes” (source).
Barbie X Balmain released an NFT auction through the host mintNFT. The three NFTs were Barbie and Ken avatars that showcased digital versions of the collaboration’s physical collection. To add onto the excitement of the auction and the demand from the customers, the highest bidders for the NFTs would also be given a Barbie sized Balmain outfit from the collection, for their own Barbie doll.
MintNFT is a marketplace for NFTs that allows the owners of the NFTs to auction off their digital product. This new marketplace has a more specific focus on creative collaborations, which is perfect for the Balmain X Barbie collaboration. James Sun, the founder and CEO of mintNFT, states that he values the NFTs created from partnerships because it redefines the definition of brand ownership for consumers.
The bidding for the NFTs began on January 11 and lasted for 3 days. The non-fungible tokens were extremely successful and this is proven when looking at the amounts that each one sold for. The NFTs each sold for $12,490, $14,786, and $21,379. This is yet another collaboration that proves the value in the Metaverse and if more companies were not already considering their own Metaverse projects, they most likely started after seeing the results of this one.
Balmain X Barbie Pop-Up Experience
In addition to the collection being available online, Balmain and Barbie had a pop-up store and experience with a lot of the items from the collection. The pop-up was located in Dallas, Texas at the Neiman Marcus NorthPark. It was available from January 13th to January 30th.
The pop-up was designed to imitate the glass pavilion of the Grand Palais in Paris, which is an iconic spot. Some of the other aspects of the pop-up included a live DJ set, a custom cotton candy machine, and photo opportunities in a human sized Barbie doll box. One of the goals of this collaboration was to bring fun back into fashion, and this pop-up was one of the ways to do just that.
What is an NFT?
To truly get a grasp on the details of this collaboration, it is critical to understand what an NFT is. NFT stands for non-fungible token. Non-fungible means that it is something that is completely unique and cannot be replaced with anything else. NFTs are one hundred percent digital items but besides being digital, there is no limit or standard that it has to meet. A few examples of NFTs are digital artwork, collectible items, music, a house, a video, and just about anything else anyone could imagine. It is a digital asset that can cause someone to make or lose money if it gains or loses value, like any other investment can. NFTs are based on blockchain technology and are usually sold through auction systems.
Recently, digital art and digital fashion have become increasingly successful within the Metaverse. This makes the NFT aspect of the Balmain X Barbie collection extremely smart. Balmain and Barbie are getting ahead of the industry by releasing an NFT project now, before many other companies begin to do the same. Combining toys and fashion within an NFT is a historic achievement and may pave the way for more similar NFTs in the future.
Some Background on Barbie
The Start of Barbie
Barbie was officially launched on March 9, 1959. The doll made its debut at the American International Toy Fair that was held in New York City. Barbie was created by Mattel, which is Barbie’s parent company. The designer of the Barbie doll was Ruth Handler, who was the co-founder of Mattel.
The idea of the Barbie doll came from Ruth’s daughter always drawing out paper dolls having to do with her dreams and aspirations. This caused Ruth to realize that the market was missing something and she had hopes to fill that gap. The market, at that time only had baby dolls which gave young kids playing with them the imaginary role of a caregiver. Ruth wanted to change this and give young kids an opportunity to envision their future selves as anything they wanted. “Ruth’s philosophy behind Barbie was that through the doll a little girl could be anything she wanted to be and that she has choices” (source).
Barbie’s Growth Through the Years
Barbie expanded into making a male doll two years after the initial launch, Ken joined the Barbie offerings in 1961. Ken was introduced as Barbie’s boyfriend. Since Ken, more and more Barbie characters have been released. In 1980, An African American and a Latina Barbie were each introduced. That same year, the brand kept going and released dolls from 40 different countries/nationalities. Barbie faced a lot of diversity and inclusion criticism so in 2016, the brand released Barbie Fashionistas. These dolls were available in four different body types, seven skin tones, twenty-two eye colors, and twenty-four hair styles/colors.
The brand has kept this inspiring philosophy and has even expanded it to be much more inclusive. Over the many years that Barbie has existed, it has empowered kids to imagine their future selves as anything they want, including princesses and princes, to astronauts and presidents. Since the initial Barbie came out she has had more than 200 careers. Some of these include being a doctor, paleontologist, computer engineer, rock star, teacher, coach, construction worker, magician, nurse, boxer, and many many more. The toy has truly encouraged kids to think beyond regular careers and dream about anything and everything. It has even done its best attempts to remove negative stereotypes by including every type of job, not just the super difficult to achieve ones.
Some more very inspiring and thoughtful dolls included the chemo Barbie, who was meant to help little girls who were fighting a battle with cancer. Additionally, Barbie released the “Inspiring Women” collection that included three famous women who made history in different ways. These three dolls included Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, and Katherine Johnson.
Some Background on Balmain
Balmain is a French fashion house with its headquarters in Paris, France. Balmain has 357 boutiques throughout the world, and 16 of them are mono brand stores.
Balmain was founded in 1945 by Pierre Balmain. The brand had a debut show in October of that year and it encompassed curve-enhancing silhouettes such as bell-shaped skirts that were tapered in at the waist. Pierre was the creative director for as long as he could but since then there have been seven different Heads of Design. Today that position is held by Olivier Rousteing and has been since 2011. He started this role with the hope to re-energize Pierre Balmain’s design tropes for the modern woman.
Balmain’s products include a very wide range of women’s and men’s clothing. Their website only sells products from the current season’s collection, so every few months there are hundreds of new products. This also gives it a bit of a limited edition sense to it, which gives it even more of a luxury feel than it already has. The items include the usual clothing pieces such as tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets, shoes, bags, and accessories.
Final Thoughts: The Amazing Collaboration Between Barbie and Balmain
Barbie and Balmain broke new ground for toys and fashion in the Metaverse. These two brands were a perfect match since Balmain is at the top of luxury fashion and Barbie is the biggest fashion toy there is. The collection was a vibrant and pink mix of Balmain and Barbie’s distinct vibes.
The NFT shows that both brands are innovative and interested in the growth of the Metaverse. They both see the potential that comes with digital products, and specifically the sale of them. Participating in the metaverse has many different benefits such as secondary sales profits, engagement, innovation, large margins, no inventory discrepancies, accessibility, and high personalization to fashion companies.
The two brands have extremely different demographics and this collaboration has definitely played into Balmain’s demographic more. However, since Barbie is extremely popular and has been for a very long time there is a large chance that a lot of Balmain’s consumers today used to be Barbie fans. This collection could very well have appealed to people who used to be Barbie fans and sparked a lot of interest because of the nostalgia surrounding it.
Regardless of the reasons, many consumers were highly interested in the collaboration and it proved to be very successful, especially the NFT aspect. This complex and exciting collaboration will open doors and push more companies to experiment in the Metaverse and ultimately make investments in it.