• Reuters

How Barbiecore Fashion Has Fueled a Movie’s Buzz

REUTERS/Lisa Richwine
Barbie-themed merchandise is displayed at an Aldo store in a mall in Glendale, California, U.S. July 17, 2023.

LOS ANGELES, July 20 (Reuters) – Head to any clothing store this summer and you are likely to be hit with an explosion of pink.

Barbiecore outfits, focused on the doll’s signature color, are dominating the fashion scene for a second straight year, helped by Mattel Inc’s MAT.O all-out marketing blitz to build buzz for the “Barbie” movie that debuts in theaters on Friday.

There are Barbie sneakers, Barbie backpacks, Barbie swimsuits, and Barbie hoodies for your dog. There are rhinestone-studded water bottles, neon yellow roller blades with pink wheels – and much more.

“There is not a corner of the globe that hasn’t turned pink,” Richard Dickson, Mattel’s president and chief operating officer, said in an interview.

Couture designer Valentino kicked off the recent pink wave by dressing models in head-to-toe fuchsia for a March 2022 runway show. That sent celebrity stylists scrambling to find looks in the can’t-miss color.

A few months later, photos showed Barbie movie star Margot Robbie on set in a hot pink Western jumpsuit. The “campy style” went viral at a time when Western wear and sparkly Y2K fashions were trending, said Madeline Hirsch, news director for InStyle.

It also coincided with many people returning to offices after COVID-19 lockdowns.

“People were craving joy, color and new clothes to wear out again, and the effervescent appeal of Barbie was easy to latch on to,” Hirsch said.

As the style took off, fashion magazines chronicled celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Harry Styles in bright Barbiecore outfits.

PINK GLITTER POPCORN

Barbie is one of Mattel’s top three brands. The toymaker trademarked the term Barbiecore in 2022 and partnered with companies such as high-end French designer Balmain, jewelry maker Kendra Scott and loungewear company Barefoot Dreams.

Those efforts went into overdrive in 2023 with more than 100 partnerships tied to the movie. Items currently available range from a $20 Barbie T-shirt at Old Navy to a $1,550 sweatshirt with the Balmain logo in the Barbie font.

Mattel also collaborated on many products outside of fashion, such as an Instagram-perfect pool float from Funboy and a pink Microsoft MSFT.O X-box gaming console that rests inside a three-story Barbie Dreamhouse.

Barbie-inspired foods include an ice cream flavor and a Barbie burger with pink sauce sold at Burger King in Brazil.

Robbie, who rotated through Barbie-inspired looks during the movie’s publicity tour, even rolled pink suitcases through the airport in Sydney.

Barbiecore encompasses more than just pink, Hirsch said. “Think more is more in terms of color pairings – aqua, purples and yellows,” she said. Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken, has sported looks in that color palette.

The Barbiecore frenzy appears to be boosting interest in the “Barbie” film from Warner Bros WBD.O. Women are planning Barbie-inspired outfits to wear to screenings, and theaters are hosting special events to attract ticket buyers.

Maryland-based Warehouse Cinemas has sold out its Thursday night “Malibu Beach Party” screenings featuring pink cocktails served in flamingo floaties, said president and CEO Rich Daughtridge. Guests who bring a Barbie, or dress like Barbie or Ken, upgrade their popcorn for free with strawberry powder and edible pink glitter.

Barbie is likely to beat its main box office competition for the weekend, which is Christopher Nolan’s drama “Oppenheimer” about the man behind the making of the atomic bomb, according to box office analysts.

Forecasters predict “Barbie” will haul in anywhere from $80 million to $150 million-plus at domestic theaters from Friday through Sunday. That would top the $55 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales collected last weekend by Tom Cruise’s latest “Mission: Impossible” movie.

Filmgoers also are likely to post their Barbiecore looks on social media, sparking more interest in the movie, said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co.

“This has the potential to break out in ways that we can’t fathom yet,” Bock said.