The New Crew – Barbie Ken dolls

Mattel Canada Inc. releases the Barbie Fashionistas expansion, to include over a dozen unique, multicultural Ken dolls.

Three cheers for diversity and inclusion! Canadian children rejoice as Barbie releases its most diverse Ken doll collection to date. The 15 new dolls, dubbed “The New Crew,” further diversify the already adored Fashionistas line, featuring three body types and a variety of skin tones, hairstyles and modern fashion looks.

What does the Ken doll of 2017 look like? Think broad builds, man buns, cornrows and more, plus a total wardrobe overhaul. “Girls and boys now can look at these dolls and they can see different people around them,” says Lisa Perry, brand manager at Mattel Canada Inc. “Whether it’s their teacher, brother, father, friend, themselves — children can now use Barbie as that vehicle to further ignite storytelling and play.”

This impressive release comes a year and a half after Barbie shocked the press (in the best way) by expanding to add new, inclusive body shapes and styles of her own. “When Ruth Handler (our founder) created Barbie, she really created her to represent the fact that a woman has choices,” says Perry. “So when we enter this new chapter of the brand, we’re really working hard to evolve the product line to offer more choices and to better reflect the world that the girls see around them.”

Naturally, we’re thrilled — but we can’t help but think, “What took so long?”

The evolution of Ken is yet another step in Mattel’s plan to take care of the brand and grow with its consumers. “I think when you’re dealing with a brand that’s had this 58-year history, the brand and the product evolution really takes time,” admits Perry. “We’re really proud of the way that we’re evolving the brand through the product, as we wanted to really adapt Barbie to what this generation sees today.”

The doll designers draw their inspiration globally, looking at Barbie and Ken as mini time capsules and capturing what children are really seeing in the world around them.

“One of the things that we find through research is that younger girls actually choose their dolls based on the styles, fashion and hair, whereas the older girls see the differences in the diversity,” says Perry. “The older girls ended up picking the dolls that looked more like themselves, their parents, friends or teachers.”

With future plans to continue expanding the Fashionistas line, Perry says the possibilities are endless. Who knows, maybe we’ll be seeing Barbie in a hijab, or Ken wearing a kippah?

Photos courtesy of Mattel Canada Inc.

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