Barbie's Ken gets a man bun

Doll manufacturer Mattel has given Ken a makeover with 15 new looks.
Doll manufacturer Mattel has given Ken a makeover with 15 new looks.PHOTO: I/MOMENTS/ TWITTER.COM

NEW YORK • Ken, the all-American, muscular male with luxuriant hair, is getting a makeover.

Barbie's iconic boyfriend is breaking out 15 new looks, sporting a man bun, cornrows and freckles.

Times are changing and doll manufacturer Mattel is playing catch-up as it battles to boost declining sales.

Ken's makeover was unveiled 18 months after Barbie, the stereotypical blue-eyed blonde bombshell, was given three new body types - tall, petite and curvy.

Mattel's Next Gen Ken will come in three body types - broad, slim and original.

There are seven skin tones, eight hair colours and nine hairstyles.

The fashionable revamps come 56 years after the first Ken doll hit the market, reported Agence France-Presse.

The dolls extend Barbie's Fashionista line, which now runs to 40 dolls. They represent seven body types, 11 skin tones and 28 hairstyles, the company said.

"We are redefining what a Barbie or Ken doll looks like to this generation," said Ms Lisa McKnight, senior vice-president and general manager of Barbie.

"Evolving Ken was a natural evolution for the brand and allows girls to further personalise the role they want him to play in Barbie's world," she added.

The man doll will also sport "modernised fashion", ranging from casual business attire to athletic wear.

The Ken dolls were shown on the company's website on Tuesday dressed in hipster-style checked shirts, denim shorts and skinny jeans.

One wore heavy dark-rimmed spectacles.

Mattel's announcement in January last year of the new curvy Barbie was welcomed as an acknowledgement, however belated, that women come in many shapes and sizes.

But will such moves - including the remake of Ken - boost the company's bottom line?

Toy industry experts do not expect much impact and instead point out that Mattel has to fend off rivals with products that have tie-ups with hit films, such as Hasbro's Star Wars franchise.

Youngsters are also increasingly shunning conventional toys in favour of mobile devices and video games.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2017, with the headline 'Barbie's Ken gets a man bun'. Print Edition | Subscribe