While most of Barbie’s world is made of fossil fuel-derived plastics, thredUP wants fans to ditch new—often petrochemical-based—Barbiecore fast fashions in favor of a more sustainable way to participate in the hot pink trend: secondhand shopping.
The online thrift store is working with Jacqueline Durran, the new film’s Oscar-winning costume designer, to put together a 250-piece collection of bright-colored, era-spanning, Barbie-inspired looks.
Durran handpicked the items from thredUP’s inventory, and an AI-powered tool will repopulate the collection with similar garments and accessories as fans scoop up her selections.
“We consistently look for these ‘wastewater’ moments,” explained Erin Wallace, vp of marketing at thredUP. “[Barbie] is a movie, it is a trend, but it’s also encouraging consumers to participate in single-use fashion—disposable fashion—at a massive scale. And we’d love to take that and flip the narrative and participate in the same trend, in the same cultural moment, but in a way that is sustainable.”
The tie-up with Barbie is part of an ongoing strategy to use cultural moments to introduce more people to the world of resale—a tactic that’s helped thredUP inch toward profitability in recent years amid its effort to interrupt a clothing culture rooted in fast fashion. It’s an effort that sustainability experts applaud, with the caveat that secondhand shopping alone can’t fix the environmental and human rights disasters fueled by fast fashion.
Over the last few years, thredUP has partnered with White Lotus star Haley Lu Richardson, Gossip Girl costume designer Eric Daman and celebrity stylist Karla Welch, each of whom built custom secondhand collections for the platform. Ahead of the 2022 holiday season, thredUP worked with The Nanny’s Fran Drescher and zero-waste designer Daniel Silverstein to create new pieces from unsold thredUP inventory. In 2021, costume designers Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago worked with thredUP to source designer pieces for Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That.
“Overwhelmingly, these campaigns do reach new audiences for us,” she said, but wouldn’t share specific figures. “Our focus is really on bringing new people into the thredUP world who either have never shopped on thredUP or even never shopped secondhand.”