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How retailer-brand partnerships can make sales soar

The pink wave of Barbiemania swept the globe this summer, ushering in the mother of all brand partnerships around the movie about the anatomically suspect doll that was, until Greta Gerwig got to work, falling out of favour.

The tie-up between many retail brands and the Barbie movie – both officially and unofficially – showcases not only the power of Barbie but just what getting the right brand x brand alignment can do for sales.

So, which brands have done what with Barbie how has it impacted sales and perception and what other brand-retailer tie-ups have caused a stir?


Fast fashion retailer Zara has one of the largest tie-ups with the Barbie movie. The Barbie Zara range features 17 children’s garments and accessories, including a hot-pink one-piece swimsuit, a backpack and sneakers, but the offering for women is much broader, with 85 items.

Men, too, can buy into the trend with a fuchsia suit, or cowboy boots and denim shirt to match the styles worn by Ryan Gosling in his role as Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken.

A Zara Barbie eau de parfum, hoop earrings, and pink cropped hoodie were all out of stock on the brand’s UK site two days after launch in July. A fuchsia double-breasted suit blazer for men, priced at £89.99, was also out of stock.

The retailer also created two immersive pop-in spaces in Paris (Zara Champs-Elysee 74 store) and in New York (Zara Soho store) for a week in July around the movie’s launch. The pop-in is a take on the ‘Barbie Dreamhouse’ bringing the universe from the new Barbie film into the real world.


An unlikely tie-up, but one that has helped propel the ungainly footwear into being one of the hottest trends of the summer, saw Crocs roll out platform hot-pink Barbie Crocs featuring a glitter sole, which were on sale for $59.99 – $10 more than normal Crocs – and which sold out on the Crocs website within hours of going live.

The site was restocked a week later and sold out again.

At the end of July Crocs reported its half-year results, posting a record $1.07bn and has said it has raised guidance on its full year.

While not attributed to the Barbie tie-up per se, the record results reflect the company’s push to get the brand out into the mainstream fashion market and come hot on the heels of its tie-up with luxury brand Balenciaga earlier this year.


GAP rolled out a limited edition range of hoodies, t-shirts, shirts and a dress – all in pink – featuring a combination of the famous GAP and the Barbie logos. Ranging in price from £25 to £75, the items were snapped up quickly and only a few remain in the adult section on GAP UK online, while almost all of the kidswear has gone.

Again the move helped GAP reignite sales in the UK, where the brand has been forced post-pandemic to only sell online. The tie-up has been a much-needed fillip for the retailer, getting its logo out there with a whole new generation of kids – many of whom had already started to become interested in the brands previously more associated with their parents.


Luggage company Beis was another brand that slipped into the pink, launching a range of luxury luggage in pink that sold out on the day of its launch. There is currently a waiting list to procure any or all of the three sizes of cases on sale.

Barbie X everyone else

The Barbie movie has been one of the most brand-tied events ever, with the toy’s owner, Mattel, striking deals with a huge range of companies, not just in retail.

The movie has been seen by Mattel as a way to reinvigorate Barbie, as well as to launch it to a whole new generation. And part of this has involved getting the Barbie name out there on pretty much anything that you can think of. 

Just some of the other collabs include Hyatt Hotels and Hilton offering Barbie-themed hotel suites in cities including Bogota, Colombia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; H&M, Primark and Superga all rolling out Barbie Collections; Walmart selling Barbie dolls in varying skin tones and hairstyles at $45 to collectors; rugs, toothbrushes, lunchboxes, socks and more all officially and unofficially branded for Barbie; not to mention every retailer everywhere getting anything it has in stock in pink displayed online and in-store as Barbie related.

Kanye x Adidas

At the peak of his fame in 2015, Kanye West teamed up with Adidas to create a range of Yeezy-branded trainers. Sales went through the roof and the collaboration was seen as one of the most successful of modern times – certainly pre-Barbie. 

However, after making some questionable public statements, Adidas cut ties with the star in 2022 and posted a $655m loss.

The brand resumed its partnership, albeit with less fanfare, in 2023 and now donates a chunk of proceeds to social justice causes. 

Louis Vuitton x BMW

Not obvious bed-fellows, but luxury luggage brand Louis Vuitton partnered with the German car maker to target drivers of the latter’s high-end i8 sports coupe with a £20,000 four-piece exclusive LVxBMW luggage set.

The tie-up tapped into the BMW driver’s pretensions for luxury while bringing the luxury brand to a new mid-high-end demographic.

Toy giant, Mattel’s global supply chain strategy VP Gladis Araujo has been confirmed to speak at the 2023 DeliveryX World conference in London, register here.

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