We’re all in a Barbie world: The rise of Barbiecore

ndall Becker, a former trend forecaster for Bloomingdale’s, explained that, “Initially, Barbiecore was about coming out of the pandemic. There was an emphasis on party dressing, night dressing, and owning your sexuality [but it has since] spilled into workplace culture and street style with pink power suits. It’s about owning your look. You’re feeling great and you’re feeling empowered.”

Hot pink and shocking fuschia are so in demand that the trend is influencing all sorts of products, from beauty to fashion and even interior design. A clear example would be Valentino’s collection for autumn 2022 in the northern hemisphere, which was centred entirely around pink. Since then, a multitude of celebrities, even men, have been seen wearing head-to-toe pink looks in the media.

So why is pink so popular again and why are consumers buying into it right now?

A declaration of über-femininity

Barbiecore videos began to flood our TikTok feeds back in April and have since garnered more than 13 million views, while the #barbie count has topped 22 billion. However, the first images of Margot Robbie as Barbie were what caused the real frenzy on social media. The movie’s teaser trailer was soon followed by leaked images of Robbie and co-star Gosling in Barbie’s famous ’80s rollerblading outfit, which prompted a trend of people trying to re-create the look.

Pinterest head of fashion Jessica Payne said there has been a huge interest in Barbiecore on the platform this year. Searches for ‘Barbie outfits’ have increased 75 per cent, while ‘pink eyeshadow’ has gone up by 30 per cent and ‘pink lipsticks’ by 60 per cent. Searches for blonde, blown-out hair styles are up 80 per cent.

“We’ve noticed fashionistas on Pinterest look to the iconic blue leg warmers and platinum blonde updos to replicate their own Barbie and Ken, signalling the Barbie aesthetic is clearly here to stay this summer,” Payne said.

Girly pink power

Behind this ultra-girly facade is a feminist idealogy that seems to resonate with many women today.

For years, hyper-feminine fashion has been seen in a negative light, often associated with  being a bimbo, bratty, or difficult. But a new generation of women are aiming to flip this stereotype on its head.

While the ideal image of Barbie used to be a blonde, cis-gender white woman, Barbiecore embraces only the essence of dressing girly, without excluding anyone’s race, body type or sexuality.

Mattel president and COO Richard Dickson commented, “Barbiecore is more than a trend; it’s a movement, stemming from what Barbie signifies. We’ve intentionally shaped the brand with a clear purpose and passion for empowerment, celebrating self-expression, inspiration, and joy. Today, Barbie simultaneously reflects and leads culture, so the relevance of Barbiecore, at a time when our collective craving for levity runs deep, makes perfect sense.”

In many ways, Barbiecore represents the intersection where feminism, diversity, and global politics meet. It’s also a reaction to dark events such as the pandemic and attacks on women’s empowerment such as the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, which has led to bans on abortion in many states, with no exception for rape or incest in some places.

Pink is the new black

The rise of Barbiecore has had a definite impact on the sales of pink products and goods. Data from Klarna, an online financial service, shows a huge jump in purchases of pink products. In the past six months, sales of pink mini dresses are up 970 per cent and pink swimsuits sales have risen 682 per cent.

Buyers have also seen a huge push in pink products from brands, as even the biggest names in fashion are trying to cater for the demand. “It’s a best-selling colour with our customers, inspiring mood-boosting, positive feelings with the right amount of femininity, luxury, and sophistication to make it universally flattering,” said Jodi Kahn, vice-president of luxury fashion at Neiman Marcus.

The colour has already dominated the summer season and Kahn predicts we will continue to see it trend into autumn, as brands such as Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gabriela Hearst have all introduced tailoring in variations of pink for their collections. Versace, Alex Perry, and Lapointe will also introduce a substantial amount of product in this hue next season.

In the realm of beauty, pink-glitter nails and hot pink blushes have gone viral. Salons have also reported that more customers have been requesting pink hair, as seen on celebrities like Dua Lipa and Megan Fox.

“There is a phenomenon happening right now with ’90s and early 2000s fashion that is impossible to ignore,” Khan said. “The nostalgia factor of Barbie mirrors the demands of our customers.”

While pure Barbiecore may seem ostentatious and too bold for normal, everyday women, former trend forecaster Becker explains it can manifest in more subtle ways. “For some, that may be a muted pair of mauve pink denim and near neutral top, while for others it may be an eye-catching hot pink mini dress with feather trim,” she said.

Feeding fantasy

Gerwig’s Barbie film is slated for release next year. Only time will tell if the Barbiecore trend can survive beyond the movie’s hype but we will definitely see even more pink this autumn. In fact, upcoming collections are proving a real ode to the vibrant colour. Valentino has made pink a huge focus for both women’s and men’s styles. And Michael Kors, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Gabriela Hearst, Alex Perry, and Lapoint will also bring in more of the colour for their upcoming collections.

Balenciaga has already dressed Kim Kardashian in multiple head-to-toe pink looks with no signs of stopping. Most recently, the trend has also been picked up in the world of interior design.

This year, furniture designer Sophie Collé created an entire Barbie-themed space in Brooklyn, New York that shows how a pink home can be adopted for modern day. “I had this vision where it was like, [let’s see] if I can make this look like a Barbie dreamhouse top to bottom but still make it a real, functioning home where an adult lives and can work,” Collé explained.

For Collé, the pink home represents a utopia that feels “safe and happy” in a scary world. And she is not alone in longing for such. This year, more and more Barbie-themed hotel rooms and vacation homes have started popping up, unironically aimed towards adults.

“Not to be sad, but the world is kind of going down the toilet,” said Rashida Renée, a fashion archivist, artist, and lifelong Barbie collector. “Everyone’s kind of retreating into their self-made fantasy worlds.”

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