“For me, it’s a lot more than just a commercial project. It’s very emotional,” says Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing.
It’s a new year; however, some things from past years that we thought would die down are still relevant today, i.e., the pandemic. In the fashion world, collaborations are still in full throttle, but brands present them differently. While 2021 was the year of evolving the “collab” to hacks and swaps, in 2022, it’s entering the metaverse.
Today, Balmain and Barbie’s collaboration launched in the latter’s stores and both brands’ websites. The collection includes a collection of primarily pink RTW, of course, and a series of NFTs.
A “powerful” strategy
While Balman is offering a clothing and accessories line inspired by the iconic doll, Mattel, Barbie’s parent company, presents NFTs through avatars. The digital art pieces contrast Barbie’s traditional Caucasian dolls—instead, they’re racially diverse and “distinctly multicultural,” as Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing describes them.
The digital collectibles (no physical dolls are on offer) include a 50-piece Barbie-inspired collection available by auction only, which are open for bids now. In addition, all Balmain’s physical garments and NFT looks are unisex—which means Ken can wear Barbie’s clothes and vice versa.
“I believe it is going to change the fashion industry completely, and it will have the same impact as when social media first started or when the internet first launched,” Txampi Diz, CMO of Balmain, tells Forbes.
Richard Dickson, Mattel’s president, and COO regards the collaboration as a “milestone,” as it’s the first NFT undertaking of the “Barbie brand.” However, last year, the world’s fourth-biggest toymaker (behind LEGO, Bandai Namco, and Hasbro) already dipped their toes in the NFT space with Gucci for Hot Wheels. But according to Dickson, it’s a “powerful” strategy to roll out NFTs across Mattel. He tells Forbes that it’s part of their business and for “staying relevant.”
While Mattel sees collaboration as a way to be in step with the world’s advancing digitization, Balmain’s creative director’s goal is to make sure everyone’s represented. “When I was a kid, I didn’t have so many examples of different kinds of beauty, so I loved the idea of creating more—I wouldn’t say just diverse beauties—but just different beauties,” he told French Vogue.
Rousteing, who started helming the French house in 2011 at age 25, refers to its team and customers as the “Balmain Army.” In a New York Times article on the year’s first high-fashion collaboration, he says that Barbie joining his Army is a “small revenge,” given that he made a collection “with no boy clothes or girl clothes.”
“I think Barbie represents a joyful dream world. There’s nothing wrong with a dream. But let’s push the dream and not dream of the 1950s or 1960s, but 2022. For me, it’s a lot more than just a commercial project. It’s very emotional,” the 35-year-old continues.
Throughout Balmain’s collection, campaign, and Barbie’s avatar NFTs, you’ll see models of different ethnicities wearing clothes with anyone in mind. So maybe one thing that’s changed this year is what’s inside the Barbie World.
Banner photo from @Balmain on Instagram.