Balmain and Barbie recently teamed up on a collection that includes three NFTs, as well as physical products. Barbie’s parent company Mattel has previously worked with Gucci on a limited-edition set of physical Hot Wheels cars. But are luxury fashion toys in the metaverse the future of collectibles?
The fashion toy craze is not new. For example, the Japanese collectible brand Medicom’s Bear brick Toys, launched in 2001, has taken on the brand identity of 10 different designers in 2014. They included Kenzo, Lanvin, Carven, Undercover, Marni, Raf Simons, Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs, Thom Browne and White Mountaineering. Collectables now sell for up to $ 2,500 on platforms such as Stock X. As brands become more comfortable in the NFT space, some are seeing the similarities between the physical space of collectors and one-time digital artwork created for the metaverse.
“The connection with culture is a fundamental component of Mattel’s Playbook and Barbie is a globally recognized icon in fashion and pop culture, creating an interesting intersection between brand, art and collectability,” he said. said Richard Dickson, president and chief operating officer of Mattel. “Through Barbie’s partnership with Balmain, we are harnessing the power of our mutually innovative heritage to invite all fans to experience the art, fashion and culture that both brands offer, in a unique way.”
Last week, fashion brand Balmain announced a limited collection of physical Balmain clothing and accessories styles, tailored to Barbie, a collection of 50 pieces of women’s ready-to-wear and accessories and three unique NFTs of Barbie and Ken. The NFTs will go on sale this week New NFT, a premium NFT marketplace. Coming from the Mattel Creations collectibles platform, the toys function as whiteboards on which outside artists can display their work, in the same way that Bearbricks displays the works of collaborating artists.
The nostalgia-filled RTW collection echoes the Balmain brand identity and incorporates classic Barbie models. The Barbie logo from the 1990s packaging and the signature Pantone “Barbie pink” shade are featured with Balmain’s signature marinière and Labyrinth motifs on oversized Balmain capes, bags and kimonos. The 50-piece Barbie x Balmain line of ready-to-wear and accessories will be available for purchase in Balmain stores, on balmain.com and on the Mattel Creations online store starting January 13.
Oliver Rousteing, Creative Director of Balmain, said in the press release: “This collection rejects any arbitrary limitations of gender: this is an almost 100% unisex collection. Today’s Barbie does [it] clear that there is nothing holding us back anymore! ” The legacy look of the Barbie doll makes this more of a one-time collaboration, pushing a historic toy into the digital realm.
Mattel clearly sees the opportunity in digital collectibles. Dickson believes that, “through proven collaborations like this one, toys will become just as important as other fashion accessories to fashion brands and ignite a whole new audience and the business of the future.” He is the pioneer in space, having launched three NFT collections across his range of brands since last year.
His first NFT collection of three unique NFTs from the Hot Wheels NFT Garage series was released in June 2021. Next came an NFT Uno card. cooperation with VeeFriends created by Gary Vaynerchuk. Surprisingly, other toy makers haven’t ventured into the NFT space; Mattel was the first to establish the link between the commercial success of its products and NFT’s growing community of creators and buyers.
“We believe the collectors space is ready for innovation and fashion and toys together will become a whole new business. The pandemic has shown us that the human need to “play” at any age is very real and we don’t see that fading, “Dickson said.” The passion for our brands has always been unique and ageless, which makes us offers a runway to showcase our brands in fun and reinvented ways for adult fans. “As luxury fashion brands test the field of NFTs, collectible toys could serve as a means to unite legacy brands across industries to earn renewed interest and attention.
Both the Hot Wheels NFT collection and the Balmain x Barbie NFT collection have been auctioned on proof-of-stake blockchain systems, making them less energy-intensive. The latter used Flow, which previously hosted Crypto Kitties and NBA NFT. Some in the fashion industry have remained reluctant to get involved in notoriously energy-intensive NFT, as much of the industry’s focus has been on sustainability. The more industry leaders focus on proof-of-stake mechanisms for NFT and blockchain projects, the less brands hesitate to dive into the space.