Tech Tuesday: Life in Plastic Goes Digital With Diverse Barbie and Ken NFT Collection

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French fashion house Balmain and toy giant Mattel are collaborating on an NFT collection of racially-diverse Barbie and Ken avatars dressed in high fashion.

In a departure for Mattel, the company best known for Barbie and her countless career-based iterations, this Balmain collaboration does involve physical dolls. The cross-section between adult doll collectors, tech nerds and fashionistas can rejoice at the prospect of snagging three NFTs with unique designs available for auction from Jan. 11 to Jan. 14.

The winning bidders will receive their fashionable avatar with a “Barbie-scaled version” of the Balmain-designed clothes their avatar sports. Balmain X Barbie is hosting a virtual panel today with mintNFT.com to discuss the auction.

In addition to the NFT drop, Mattel and Balmain are launching a collection of over 50 pieces of apparel and accessories—set to release this Thursday. The designs mesh Balmain’s staple labyrinth designs and “marinière” striped shirts with enough varied shades of pink to make Barbie blush.

The fashions of the collection are intentionally unisex, a feature that Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing celebrates.

“When I was a little boy , I remembered hearing comments saying: a girl plays with Barbie, a boy with a car. This is such a cliché. As much as blue is for boy, pink is for girls,” said the Somali and Ethiopian designer in an Instagram post. “That’s why I love so much this collaboration, because balmain and Barbie is stopping clichés and bringing a new era where FREEDOM is the right word.”

The garments in the collection bear a hefty price tag of nearly $300 for a t-shirt and well over $42,000 for a signature gown, according to The New York Times.

In recent years, Mattel has revamped the Barbie brand with partnerships and doll lines that reflect diverse audiences and honor multicultural icons.

The newest in Mattel’s ongoing “Inspiring Women Series” will honor activist and journalist Ida B. Wells with a doll in her likeness. Jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, tennis pro, Naomi Osaka and renowned poet Maya Angelou are among the boundary-breaking women included in the series of dolls that began in 2018.

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