Ken’s Empowering Fashion Journey in Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’

Ken's Empowering Fashion Journey in Greta Gerwig's 'Barbie'

For almost sixty years, Ken has served as Barbie’s sidekick, a perfect match to the woman he was intended to spend the rest of his life with. However, Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated film, ‘Barbie,’ featuring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, promises to rewrite Ken’s future. The movie takes a revolutionary approach, using Ken’s clothes as the key to his emancipation from stereotypical gender norms.

Ken made his debut two years after Barbie in 1961, responding to the demand from young fans for a boyfriend. Despite countless iterations, such as “Surf City” Ken and “Great Shape” Ken, he has often been overshadowed by Barbie’s glamour.

New fashion story of Ken in Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’

Ken's Empowering Fashion Journey in Greta Gerwig's 'Barbie'

According to Kim Culmone, head of design at Mattel, Ken’s initial fashion choices revolved around his role as an accessory to Barbie’s life, dressing to complement her. On the other hand, Gerwig and the film’s wardrobe developer, Jacqueline Durran, dug on Ken’s fashion past and traced the development of his style and professional interests through time. They produced a selection of costumes inspired by Ken’s past, but with the freedom to create a new fashion story for him.

In the film, Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Ken embarks on a journey of self-discovery after experiencing the “real world” with Barbie. He becomes aware of the gender relations that privilege men outside of Barbie Land. As he navigates through this newfound understanding of masculinity, his wardrobe plays a pivotal role in expressing his transformation.

Ken’s fascination with outfits symbolizing machismo, such as tailored suits and sleeveless vests, signifies his recognition of newfound influence and power. He embraces a sense of emancipation, culminating in him taking control of Barbie Land and creating his own “Kendom.”

His first independently curated outfit reflects his somewhat misguided interpretation of real-world masculinity. This ensemble, consisting of a long white mink fur coat, two pairs of sunglasses, a jewel-encrusted horse-shoe chain, and a personalized fanny pack, embodies his sense of freedom from societal expectations.

Ken as a style icon in his own unique way

Throughout the film, Ken’s wardrobe choices exude a childlike innocence, from his embroidered underpants to the three watches he wears. This “Kenaissance” moment showcases his endeavor to forge his own personality, apart from Barbie.

Although his “Kendom” may not last long, the film positions Ken as a breakout star in his own right. Mattel recognizes the potential to explore Ken as a style icon in his own unique way, separate from Barbie, inspiring audiences in this new chapter of their history.

Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ redefines Ken’s character, using fashion as a powerful tool for emancipation. The movie invites viewers to witness Ken’s empowering journey as he breaks free from stereotypes and explores his individuality, proving that clothes can be the pathway to self-discovery and personal liberation.