How did one of the world’s most famous French houses begin to collaborate with the most iconic doll in the world? Like any partnership, this relationship grew from authenticity. As a well-known luxury label that provides status and exclusivity to those who wear its products, Balmain offers high design value and a loyal customer base. On the other hand, Barbie, one of Mattel’s most successful toys, has managed to maintain its popularity for over six decades. Thus, the collaboration towards the creation of three NFT’s—as well as physical products—came naturally for both brands. Balmain and Barbie are known for their fashion-forward choices and their commitment to creating and maintaining strong legacies. However, for Barbie, this venture marked the first time that the famous doll entered the digital art and fashion metaverse. By producing three one-of-a-kind NFT avatars, Barbie and Balmain guaranteed their audience an opportunity to secure a piece of history in this unprecedented partnership.
After more than two years, the digital collaboration included three main players: Mattel, Balmain, and mintNFT. As the leading global toy company, Mattel’s commitment to technology and customer experience has been translated into its modern e-commerce platforms. For example, in 2020, Mattel launched Mattel Creations, an e-commerce platform that connects brands such as Barbie with other global markets in order to produce limited-edition creations like clothes, accessories, and even new Barbie dolls. This commitment to innovation is the reason why Barbie’s parent company, when presented with the opportunity, did not hesitate to collaborate with Balmain.
For Balmain’s Creative Director, Olivier Rousteing, the collaboration with Mattel and Barbie was especially important. Rousteing’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through fashion is reflected in the way in which the three NFT avatars were created. Both the NFT avatars and the physical clothing collection are mostly genderless and invite the consumer to create their own fashion rules without forcing anyone into stereotypes.
mintNFT’s role was also crucial in the development of the historical Balmain x Barbie collaboration. As a premium studio and marketplace for NFTs, mintNFT created a storytelling platform that invited the consumer to understand how Balmain and Barbie came together. mintNFT differs from other NFT platforms because it focuses specifically on collaborations. In the case of Balmain and Barbie, mintNFT studied the history and philosophies of both brands and created premium video content that showcased the authenticity and story behind the collaboration.
With these three players involved in the collaboration, on Jan. 11, 2022, Balmain x Barbie launched the first NFT auction of three CGI dolls including Barbie and Ken avatars modeling Balmain clothing and accessories. Each avatar’s purchase included a physical set of Barbie-sized Balmain pieces. The auction lasted for three days and closed on Jan. 14 with the highest bid for one of the three digital Barbies finishing at more than $16,000. In addition to the digital avatars, Balmain also produced a limited-edition capsule collection of physical pieces for those who were not able to secure an avatar through the NFT auction. The clothing collection ranged from $295 to $42,494.
The historical collaboration between Balmain and Barbie created an impactful change in the way fashion and toy enthusiasts acquire collectibles. NFTs are expected to change how digital fashion and art interact with consumers by building a bridge that allows consumers to engage with brands in the blockchain. Without a doubt, the Balmain x Barbie NFTs are expected to create a new era within the metaverse in both fashion and toys.
Karen Surian is a second-year law student at Wake Forest University School of Law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with Law and Public Policy from Mount Holyoke College. This summer, she will join the summer associate class at Locke Lord in Dallas, Texas. Upon graduation, she intends to practice real estate, finance, and construction law.