Wanna dress like a Barbie?

by Jay Cochran
June 29, 2004
Mattel is gearing up to launch a Barbie line of clothes, accessories and perfume for adult women.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money ) - Barbie is about to break out of her curvaceous plastic mold and turn into a living breathing person. At least that's what toymaker Mattel hopes will happen when the company launches its Barbie line of clothing and accessories for women later this year.

El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel (MAT: Research, Estimates), the No. 1 toymaker, showcased its new Barbie brand of vintage T-shirts, cocktail dresses, shoes and coats last week in New York at the International Licensing show.

The Barbie couture clothing collection for adult women, which debuted last spring in Japan, will hit stores in the U.S. stores as early as this fall, said Richard Dickson, senior vice president of Mattel worldwide brands consumer products.

We have about 16 stand-alone stores in Japan selling the Barbie clothes that are geared towards adults and we hope to expand to 20 stores by the end of the year," Dickson said.

However, Mattel (MAT: Research, Estimates) is treading more cautiously in the U.S. market, Dickson said, and won't be unleashing the entire Barbie collection straight away.

"It will be a limited debut of the line with a few select pieces, " Dickson said. "The heritage of the Barbie brand in the United States is very sensitive and whatever we do with it, we want to do it right. We want to reposition the Barbie brand as a fashion icon and not just as a kitsch concept."

Mattel recently launched the Barbie vintage-type T-shirt inspired by the 1959 Barbie, priced between $40 to $60 at the high-end department store chain Nordstrom (JWN: Research, Estimates).

Separately, the "With Love, Barbie" clothing collection for young girls will be available also in the fall exclusively at Federated Department Stores, including Macy's.

Are the clothes really inspired by what Barbie wears?

Yes, said Dickson, although with a contemporary flavor. "Barbie herself has always been a fashion icon and so creating her own label seemed extremely logical," he added.

And there is also a Barbie fragrance called "Barbie Eau de Toilette" expected to launch in late August and a Barbie cosmetics line for adults in the works.

"Mattel is looking for ways to strategically extend the brand and the beauty category has tremendous opportunities," Dickson said.

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