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With 'Kencore,' Barbie isn't the only one smashing stereotypes

Ken, Barbie's longtime boyfriend, is also out in force, promoting a less stereotypical approach to fashion and challenging traditional expectations surrounding masculinity

Published: Aug 2, 2023 04:30:52 PM IST
Updated: Aug 2, 2023 04:34:12 PM IST

With 'Kencore,' Barbie isn't the only one smashing stereotypesShattering traditional images of virility, Ken's style offers a less stereotypical take on men's fashion. Image: Copyright 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.©

Barbie has been transformed into a feminist symbol by Greta Gerwig, whose movie is currently taking the box office by storm. But the global icon isn't the only one shattering conventions. Her longtime boyfriend Ken is also out in force, promoting a less stereotypical approach to fashion and challenging traditional expectations surrounding masculinity. All of which is very much in keeping with the times!

The summer of 2023 is synonymous with the release of the eagerly-awaited "Barbie" movie, whose main characters—Barbie and her boyfriend Ken (Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling)—seem to be having fun countering and shattering a host of stereotypes. It's obviously the cult doll who takes center stage in this feature film, which sees her experience the real world for the first time. Nevertheless, Ken, who follows her like a shadow, is far from a mere extra. On the contrary, through his fashion looks— admittedly a little extravagant—he affirms a trend that has already been present in the fashion world for several seasons, with men's wardrobes becoming less strict and conformist, and above all less stereotypical. As such, Ken officially joins rank with Harry Styles, David Banda and Lil Nas X as the icons of gender-fluid fashion.

Stamping out stereotypes

If you had to name just one Ken outfit before the release of the "Barbie" movie, it would inevitably have been swim shorts. Because that's how the cult doll's official boyfriend was originally dressed. And that lasted a long time, before he branched out to more covering, casual or elegant clothes. But in Greta Gerwig's movie, Ken takes things a step further with a fashion style that's less focused on virile stereotypes, and which even takes cues from Barbie's wardrobe. While the male doll has never really influenced men's fashion choices, that may be about to change radically. Welcome to the age of 'Kencore'!

And the phenomenon has not gone unnoticed among young people. This is particularly visible on the TikTok social network, where Ken's outfits are already a hit (the #Ken hashtag has over 6.5 billion views, and the #Kenoutfit hashtag has nearly a million views). So what's on offer? The (new) wardrobe of Barbie's muscular blond beau in many cases resembles that of his sweetheart. And while this wardrobe serves above all to challenge a number of sexist stereotypes, it also confirms a certain appeal for fashion that is slowly but surely moving away from certain stereotypes surrounding the concept of virility.

Also read: 'Barbie' marketing blitz hits fever pitch

A bolder look

So, what exactly is Ken's style? Think high shine, casual cuts, pastel colors and a touch of femininity. For a long time, women have been dipping into men's wardrobes to make some of their clothing items their own, but the trend could soon be reversed in the wake of the "Barbie" movie's success. From prints to pastel pinks to long white fur coats, the 'Kencore' style is, in the end, just a variation on the 'Barbiecore' trend. It's a choice that's far from insignificant, and one that has already been adopted by a number of stars on the red carpet and by many fashion designers.

At the latest men's fashion shows, dedicated to the spring-summer 2024 season, several designers opted for pastel colors (Amiri, Dior Men, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana), shiny or sequined fabrics (Loewe, Etro, AMI, Dries Van Noten), micro-shorts (Prada, Hermès, Sean Suen), floral prints (Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy), or crop tops (Egonlab). Almost all of these garments can be found in the "Barbie" movie, showing that men's fashion too is undergoing a revolution to break away from certain traditions or expectations. It now remains to be seen whether Ken will one day dare to step out in a skirt—a fashion choice that has already been tried and tested by a number of men.

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