How Balmain and Barbie are defining the future of NFTs for fashion, tech and toys
Barbie enters the world of digital art as a Balmain doll. The two brands are joining forces for a ready-to-wear collection, a line of accessories and a series of NFTs. Executives from both companies say the launch of NFT is a historic moment for fashion, technology and toys.
Balmain CMO Txampi Diz is betting on the future of NFTs as a powerful customer engagement tool for high fashion brands. “I think this is going to completely change the fashion industry and it will have the same impact as when social media started or when the internet started,” he said.
“This is an important milestone, this is the first NFT presentation the Barbie brand has ever given,” said Richard Dickson, President and COO of Mattel.
Barbie’s parent company Mattel has previously collaborated with Gucci on a Hot Wheels NFT, but Dickson says Barbie’s deeper ties to luxury fashion will propel the global toy company’s NFT plans into high gear. “This is incredibly meaningful and powerful as we effectively deploy our NFT strategy across Mattel. It’s part of our business and staying relevant.
This partnership lasted two years for the French luxury brand and the iconic American doll. The project began in 2018, shortly after Balmain launched its first ad campaign featuring a trio of computer-generated models. “We wanted to find a way to take a step further in how to bring these CGI models to life and deepen that model,” Diz said. That same year, he met the Barbie design team. “From the start, we knew it would be a digital collaboration, but the concept of an NFT was not yet part of the global context. ”
Three one-of-a-kind BalmainXBarbie NFTs are currently being auctioned through mintNFT, a new marketplace for non-fungible tokens that focuses on creative collaborations. James Sun, founder and CEO of mintNFT, says such NFT partnerships redefine the meaning of brand ownership for customers, as they symbolize an ethical buy in the business. “What’s so beautiful is that they don’t just buy an NFT, they say I want to be part of that brand on the blockchain… It’s very philosophical.”
The partnership launched a digital campaign featuring physical RTW and accessories. But the traditional Caucasian blonde Barbie will not be the only star of the Balmain show. The ads emphasize diversity and inclusion, featuring a multicultural cast of Barbie avatars modeling Balmain ensembles.
“… Barbie and Balmain are embarking on a decidedly multicultural, inclusive and always joyful adventure,” said Olivier Rousteing, Creative Director of Balmain, in a statement.
Ken also makes an appearance in the Metaverse. Said Rousteing, “This collection also rejects any arbitrary limitations of the genre – this is an almost 100% unisex collection. Because, as today’s Barbie makes clear, nothing is holding us back!
Diz notes that ultimately, the Balmain Barbie partnership, at its heart, is also meant to be a joyful and playful art. “What makes these avatars unique is that despite being unique and reflecting diversity, it’s head to toe in Balmain couture. The details are exquisite.
Auctions for Barbie NFT 1-3 will continue until January 14th. The winners of each NFT will receive a matching Balmain mini outfit in the right size for Barbie.
Human clothing and accessories, meanwhile, will be available worldwide on Balmain and Mattel Creations’ websites, as well as in select retail stores, starting January 13. Comprised of over 50 pieces, the capsule collection will incorporate the signature looks of both brands, marrying Balmain’s French refined aesthetic with Barbie’s daring American style.
“For this collaboration, we draw on the new New French Style from Balmain’s most recent collections, showing once again that Balmain is inspired by the truly diverse and exciting beauty of today’s Parisian boulevards and avenues” , said Rousteing.
Balmain’s limited edition collection includes badges, t-shirts and hoodies. Among the most anticipated items are playful accessories inspired by iconic Balmain handbags and Barbie doll wrappers.
Balmain’s Labyrinth print and French sailor tops will make their debut in the collection. But Barbie’s many shades of pink, from soft eyeshadows to bright Malibu neon lights, will serve as the dominant motif.
“Inspiration has flowed both ways,” said Rousteing, “My Balmain design team and I also played with the very familiar spirit and iconography of the Barbie universe.”
Oscar de la Renta was one of the first designers to dress Barbie in the 1980s. In 2014, the Barbie Karl Lagerfeld sold out immediately and is currently listed on Ebay for $ 7,275. She has since served as the face of countless contemporary and streetwear labels, such as the Kith’s Women for Barbie collection. And of course, there was Jeremy Scott’s unforgettable Fall 2014 runway show where he launched the Moschino Barbie line.
The Balmain and Barbie companies hope the partnership is fun because it is “historic”: “Barbie and fashion combined is a real fun time,” said Diz. “When you watch NFTs it makes you smile. ”