Bratz is going full fashion.
Under the creative direction of Cult Gaia founder Jasmin Larian, Bratz has inked several buzzy fashion collaborations, including with Dolls Kill, Puma and Cult Gaia, that are setting the early 2000s fashion dolls up for a modern comeback.
Under Larian’s guidance, Bratz has revamped its entire presence in fashion and pop culture, including branding and on social media. It is currently the most followed doll brand on Gen Z-favorite social platform TikTok.
Last fall, the fashion doll company went viral on TikTok when it animated Bratz dolls to recreate scenes from scary movies in time for Halloween, including Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried in the cult classic “Jennifer’s Body” and Drew Barrymore in “Scream.”
The following month, it Bratz-ified the iconic “Jingle Bell Rock” dance snippet from “Mean Girls,” starring the line’s original launch of dolls — Cloe, Yasmin, Jade and Sasha — to promote its collection with Makeup Revolution.
Their comeback arrives as Y2K trends continue their resurgence, dominating fashion and culture.
Bratz is tapping into people’s desire for nostalgia, said Larian, who was the inspiration for the Yasmin doll. Her father, Isaac Larian, is the founder and chief executive officer of MGA Entertainment, the manufacturer of Bratz.
“The fans have grown up and are now doing the things they dreamt of doing through the dolls,” Larian told WWD. “[Bratz] reinforced imagination and passion for fashion, creativity, going against the grain, being out of the box — almost like renegades. It was the voice of a generation that now can act on who they are and be in the world based on what the Bratz dolls inspired them to be.”
Bratz has always veered off the mainstream path, and helped to pave the way for more diversity in toys. When the majority of dolls were blonde, light-skinned and blue-eyed, Bratz’s first line of dolls had different skin tones, hair colors and eye shapes. The dolls were well-known for their disproportionately large heads and full lips.
“It really changed what people saw in the toy aisle. Being able to relate to the different skin tones of these dolls was huge,” Larian said. “What my dad has always said is, ‘they don’t need to be a specific race. Yasmin can be Persian. She can also be Hispanic. She can be whatever the person who wants that doll sees herself in.’ That’s the beauty of Bratz. It’s this commitment to diversity, but not just to be diverse, it’s just who we are. It’s built into the brand.”
When the original Bratz Pack launched, some retailers said they only wanted to purchase Cloe, the blonde, blue-eyed one of the four dolls. But according to Larian, she and the rest of the team at MGA Entertainment refused.
“One of the core tenets of the brand is that these dolls are a pack. Originally, it was called the Bratz Pack, and they’re friends,” Larian said. “What we told these retailers was, ‘No, they come in a case pack of all dolls. You have to buy all or you’re not getting any.’”
For the dolls’ 20th anniversary in 2021, Bratz launched the “20 Yearz Special Edition” of their original four dolls, through popular retailers such as Walmart, Target and Amazon.
Additionally, 2021 was also the year the brand cemented its presence in the fashion world, with multiple collaborations with high-end labels with Cult Gaia and GCDS featuring Y2K style trends — chunky shoes, crop tops and butterfly motifs.
“Bratz were always wearing things that are cool,” Larian said. “I remember as a kid, when I played with the dolls and helped with them, the detail that was put into each piece was kind of unseen before. It made you aspire to flaunt these fashions, and the people that grew up with them now have their own lines.”
“We’re definitely seeing this Y2K comeback as well, which I definitely think was part of Bratz’s height, but isn’t only what the Bratz are about, so it sandwiches the brand in a way,” she said.
For Larian, her involvement in Bratz was one of several points of inspiration that led her to start her own fashion label, Cult Gaia, in 2012. The brand initially became well-known for its signature Ark Bag, which was popular on Instagram, before it grew into the popular resortwear line we know today.
“I always knew before Bratz that I would do fashion. My mom was a fashion designer, but I think I learned about product and brand building almost by osmosis, by just being so exposed,” she said.
In March, Larian brought her two worlds together to create a collaboration between Bratz and Cult Gaia, featuring bright colors, bejeweled accessories and patterns such as snakeskin.
The Bratz TikTok page includes an array of animated and real-life videos of the dolls in certain scenarios or even throwback content from the brand’s old video games, including the Tweevil Twins, Kirstee and Kaycee.
In April, the brand relaunched their Sweet Heart Meygan doll on Amazon, Target and Walmart. Bratz promoted it with a TikTok video that featured Meygan pulling the “Love Meter” machine to see which characters in the Bratz world are compatible. One of the couples included a same-sex couple, which was widely-praised by the Bratz fanbase.
Recently, the Bratz released its first-ever Pride 2-Pack dolls, which consisted of a couple Roxxi and Nevra. The launch was a collaboration with Amsterdam-based fashion brand JimmyPaul, boasting bright and colorful hues inspired by the official Pride flag and celebrating queer history and love.
“With Bratz, now we can just speak to our core fan base and we are unapologetic about our community, standing up for their rights, having a voice and being super authentic,” Larian said. “There’s an authenticity about Bratz that you can’t really find elsewhere. To me, that is the number one most important thing about a brand — this feeling and this trueness of authenticity.”
READ MORE HERE: