Mattel’s well-coifed Ken dolls reveal that men are paying more attention to hair care
Looks like Barbie has to share her hair products with Ken now.
Mattel revealed 15 new looks for Barbie’s boyfriend this week, and modern Ken is sporting much more fashionable hairstyles than the helmet-head he’s worn for more than 50 years.
The “New Crew” diversified line of $9.99 Ken dolls feature three new body types – original, slim and broad (which the internet has dubbed “dad bod”) – along with new skin tones, eye colors and hair types. And the dolled-up coifs include a man bun, cornrows and tight curls.
Just last year, Barbie was also reintroduced with three new body types (curvy, tall and petite) as well as seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles to reflect the diversity of the children playing with them.
“We are redefining what a Barbie or Ken doll looks like to this generation,” said Lisa McKnight, Barbie’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, in a statement. “Evolving Ken was a natural evolution for the brand and allows girls to further personalize the role they want him to play in Barbie’s world.”
But Ken’s makeover really reflects the way more men have been playing with their hair in the real world. Men’s prestige hair care sales (so, sales in U.S. department stores versus drug stores) jumped up 20% in the 12 months ending in May 2017, the NPD Group told Moneyish, with the largest segments being hair styling products (up 18%) and shampoo (up 17%). And the global men personal care grooming market is expected to hit $166 billion by 2022.
And stylists including Martial Vivot, the renowned barber whose team has styled Jake Gyllenhaal, Anderson Cooper and Jared Leto, have also seen men paying close attention (and big bucks) on their hair.
“The Metrosexual moment in the 90s showed the world that straight boys can also take good care of themselves, and it’s OK!” said Vivot, whose haircuts start at $320 in his Manhattan salon. In fact, his most popular cuts are the most versatile: left tousled for that casual, rolled-out-of-bed look; lightly structured with a cream for work; and slicked back “Great Gatsby” style for a wedding or red carpet event.
“We like to have fun and play with our look like women do, and the world today is OK with that,” he added. “There’s a whole catalog of different hairstyles and looks that men can go after, which is why Ken has so many different looks, too.”
And as for the man buns, well – that’s just cute and convenient. “When you’ve got longer hair, you’ve got options. As a woman, you can leave it down or put it up in a ponytail, or in a bun when you go to the gym,” said Vivot. The man bun works in a similar way – as a casual up-do for running errands or working out, or a fashion statement with a sharp suit.
“It’s a fun balance of work and play,” Vivot said. “That’s why it’s been so popular for a couple of years now.”
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