May 31, 2009
Barbie in Asia
Style it like Barbie
By : CHEONG PHIN
New Straits Times - Persekutuan,Malaysia
Show your love for Barbie with this black T-shirt with laced sleeves from the Glamorous Barbie capsule collection.
Emulate the current fashion of the world’s most famous doll with six different looks, writes CHEONG PHIN.
The nautical-inspired dress and matching handbag from Jet Set Barbie capsule.
Celebrate Barbie’s 50th anniversary with this special blue T-shirt from the Sports Barbie capsule collection.
APART from diamonds, every girl’s other best friend has to be her Barbie Doll.
According to its makers, Mattel Inc., 90 per cent of girls between ages three and 10 own at least one such doll.
Born in 1959, the 29cm plastic sensation originally known as Barbie Millicent Roberts, turns 50 this year, having reflected the changing role of women in the world.
“Barbie represents the best in women. Over the years, she has shown young girls around the world that they can be anything they want to be — a lawyer, a doctor, or an astronaut — and look fabulously fashionable doing it. She is a modern-day icon,” said designer Kimora Lee Simmons for Baby Phat in the American publication of InStyle magazine.
In a strategic move to reinvigorate the Barbie brand beyond its traditional toy market share, Mattel Inc.
is aggressively marketing Barbie as a fashion brand by embarking on design collaborations with Vera Wang, Jeremy Scott and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
The new strategy kicked off last February at the fashion week in New York with an extraordinary runway show of Barbie-looking models strutting the catwalk in unique designs from 50 invited designers from the CFDA that included Vera Wang, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang and Kenneth Cole, to name a few.
Ranging from swimsuits to evening gowns and pink dresses, each look was unmistakably Barbie-inspired complete with thick blonde ponytail or bigteased hair, cat-eye sunglasses and hot-pink strappy Christian Louboutin heels.
The 50th anniversary of the iconic doll was also marked with the opening of the first House of Barbie in Shanghai’s trendy Huai Hai Road recently where girls and women can beautify themselves with a new line of colour cosmetics, experiment with “plastic smooth” skin treatments and shop for clothes for themselves and their dolls.
Mattel Inc.’s fashion interest in Asia was further augmented with a collaboration with Thailand’s No. 1 fashion house, JASPAL, to create a special 50th Barbie Anniversary collection based on Barbie’s style-savvy, boundary-crossing essence.
“We feel honoured to be part of this milestone celebration and hope the special collection captures the essence of today’s fashion.
We have been inspired by Barbie’s innate fashion style throughout her 50 years, and used this inspiration to design a contemporary collection of clothing and accessories for the modern woman,” said JASPAL assistant managing director Viseth Singhsachathet.
Called Barbie by JASPAL, the collection is made up of six mini capsule ranges and was recently launched here at its 1 Utama boutique featuring three Barbie-inspired looks styled by young local fashion designers Nurita Harith, Alexandrea Yeo and Amir Luqman.
Ranging from simple printed T-shirt tops to denim trench coat and edgy separates, you too can emulate Barbie’s contemporary style with the different looks of the capsule collections of apparel and accessories.
For dress-up nights to parties or clubs, this range includes the brand’s classic dark denim highwaisted skirts and hot pants to match a similar denim trench coat which can be worn over a laced pink top and with strands of pearls.
A black T-shirt with a symbolic love heart in red sequins and Barbie image is given added glamour with short, laced puffed sleeves while a black and white polka dot dress with Barbie images looks hot when teamed with pink stockings and gloves.
JET SET Barbie
This nautical-inspired capsule offers ideal summer holiday styles with striped cotton dresses in red, blue and white, and sky blue knit dresses with playful prints.
A red-and-white polka dot trench coat makes a stylish cover up for cooler days together with white knotted belts and dangling anchor pendant to accentuate the nautical feel to this collection.
Inspired by outdoor sports and the active side of Barbie, this capsule includes hooded velour jumpsuits in pink and blue T-shirts with 50th Barbie Anniversary logos worn under white cotton rompers and heather grey cotton fleece tops full of miniature accessory prints.
Staying in tune with the current 80s revival, this capsule is inspired by the punk rock of that era and includes midriff off-shoulder T-shirts worn over black tank tops and bleached skinny jeans.
A pair of red heels and a metal-studded belt completes the Rock Chick look.
Feminine blouses and short cardigans are given a romantic touch in this capsule with printed little stars, diamonds and ribbons using a wet-onwet technique.
The result is a sweet collection of 50s retro tops and tulle skirts that nod to the early days of Barbie.
This capsule is all about Barbie’s classic black and white dresses that include a short, sleeveless cotton satin dress with a ballooning skirt and folded pleats on the bodice.
It is worn with a matching bow belt that is sprinkled with sparkling crystals for a glamorous night out.
Another option is a cotton-satin pussybow blouse with a diamante-encrusted Barbie image on the bow that is worn with pants and pearls.
May 18, 2009
Mattel Seeks New Markets for Dolls
Mattel unleashes Barbie mania on China
U.S. sales are down, but the company is rewriting the doll's story for a new audience that loves Western brands.
By ARIANA EUNJUNG CHA, Washington Post
Jiang Xiaoyun stared wide-eyed at the pink cupcakes, pink T-shirts, pink purses and pink dolls in the towering new Barbie flagship store and declared the place a dream come true.
"I just thought, 'Wouldn't this be great if this was my home?'" Jiang gushed as she and her cousin snapped photos of themselves with mannequins and talked about how wonderfully "princess-y" everything was.
In the United States, Barbies and Barbie products are considered toys and are marketed primarily for girls 8 years old or younger. Not so in China.
Jiang, a 23-year-old administrative assistant, was part of a crowd of 20- and 30-something women who mobbed the Barbie store on a recent weekend. Few were there for the dolls. Instead, they were browsing the store's animal-print scarves; gourmet chocolate from Laris, one of Shanghai's most exclusive restaurants on the Bund, a famous avenue, and a $10,000 wedding dress designed by Vera Wang.
Like many other multinational firms, Mattel -- the world's largest toymaker -- is looking toward the 1.3 billion potential customers in China to make up for slow sales elsewhere.
Winning over young urban professional women in China like Jiang has become an obsession for such companies. Less concerned about price than their male counterparts but with similar disposable incomes and a love for Western brands, these consumers have the potential to make or break a company's quarterly sales.
Estee Lauder has teamed up with Sony to produce a 40-episode digital sitcom that began in December and includes product placements for Clinique cosmetics and other products. The plot revolves around a college student in Shanghai. And Unilever launched a Chinese version of "Ugly Betty" that features a script about the company's campaign for "real beauty." The first season featured 3,300 seconds of the Dove brand.
U.S. sales stumble
Barbara Millicent Roberts, better known as Barbie, made her debut at a toy fair in New York City in 1959 and has since become a subject of both controversy and adoration. The 11.5-inch doll's va-va-voom figure has been criticized throughout the years as being an inhuman ideal, but she has continued to be so popular that the average American girl owns eight Barbies.
Through the years, Barbie has had more than 108 careers and has worn costumes from 50 nations. But sales have stumbled. For Mattel, the fourth quarter of last year was especially depressing: sales fell 11 percent, to $2 billion, while operating income was down 36 percent.
"When Barbie entered American supermarkets, its brand image was damaged. Mattel is thinking to rebuild the brand image here as a dream, a paradise not only for little girls but for their mothers, too," said Sun Yimin, a marketing professor at Fudan University in Shanghai.
To celebrate Barbie's 50th birthday this year, Mattel organized a glitzy fashion show in New York and a celebrity party at a replica of the Barbie Dream House in Malibu. The Shanghai store, which opened in March, is the cornerstone of the company's campaign to revitalize the brand.
Rewriting Barbie's story
Located on Shanghai's equivalent of Fifth Avenue, the six-story, 35,000-square-foot building includes a luxury spa and restaurant in addition to its vast retail space.
"Chinese consumers barely know anything about Barbie except that Barbie is a pretty doll," said Laura Lai, general manager of Barbie Shanghai. This has given the company an opportunity to rewrite the doll's story. "We're targeting girls of all ages -- no matter whether they are 6 years old or 60 years old."
If the long checkout lines at the Shanghai store are any indication, Mattel's strategy is working. Pan Yangzhou, a 21-year-old who was visiting from the nearby city of Nanjing, bought some blush and lipstick. Tang Xuyu, a 25-year-old Shanghai native who works as an assistant to the CEO of a local restaurant group, purchased a notebook, some chocolates and a card.
Cui Xiujao, a 25-year-old who works for a software company, had bought a pink T-shirt for her sister, who is also in her 20s, and was browsing for something for herself.
"Barbie attracts me because she's very feminine and independent. She's in charge of her own life. And she has many different roles," Cui said, justifying her spending. "But most important are her pretty clothes."