World’s largest Barbie store to open in Shanghai

November 24, 2010

News : World’s largest Barbie store to open in Shanghai
Posted by sns in news

Tens of thousands of Chinese fans are expected to turn out to welcome Barbara Millicent Roberts, or “Ba Bi Wa Wa” as she is known in the country.

After a number of delays, Barbie’s new 37,000 sq ft home will open just two days before her 50th birthday on March 9.

SNS Singapore has a 50th Barbie Anniversary Sale, catch it if you’re in Singapore this week!

The doll’s makers, Mattel, insist that the new store will capture the imagination not just of young girls, but of Chinese women of all ages with over 1,600 products for sale.

For younger girls, the store offers a catwalk on which they can model Barbie-esque clothes and a troupe of assistants to teach them how to sing and dance to the “Barbie Girl” song. Meanwhile, Richard Dickson, who has spearheaded the project for Mattel, said his favourite feature is the Pink Tunnel, a neon-lit escalator which hums with the pre-recorded sound of giggling girls.

“We’ve been working on this idea for three years, then we came to the decision that since it is a whole new concept, it should be happening in the most ‘future’ place in the world,” said Mr Dickson. “That’s why we have chosen Shanghai, the most modern and fashionable city,” he added.

For older women, Mattel has commissioned Vera Wang, the New York-based fashion designer, to come up with a £10,000 wedding dress. A line of clothing will also be on offer from Patricia Fields, the designer behind Sex and the City.

The store boasts a café with food designed by local celebrity chef David Laris, who admits that it was an “unlikely” partnership, as well as “The Pink Room”, a bar complete with karaoke, a DJ and pink martinis. “Barbies want to talk to Kens, you have to have a place for that,” said Hayes Zhou, the food manager at the store.

Visitors can also use a day spa, get their hair cut and their nails done, and shop for accessories and clothes modelled on Barbie’s fashion tastes.

The store promises a special treat for Chinese lovers on Valentine’s Day, with a themed evening.

Gene Murtha, Mattel’s vice-president for international business development explained that the company wanted to maximise its market potential on the mainland. “What we found in China which we didn’t find anywhere else is that other generations respond to [Barbie] as well. So there are essentially four generations of women compressed in who never had the chance to experience Barbie as they grew up.”

China is likely to be an enormous market for the doll, even with the £25 price tag of the Shanghai Barbie doll, an exclusive model that will only be available in the new store. The cost of the doll is an entire week’s salary for a factory worker.

Worldwide, sales of Barbies fell by 21 per cent in the last three months of 2008, as the brand was hit by the financial crisis. But the company is confident China will also prove a winner: “It’s a very large market growing rapidly and [sales of] premium branded toys basically tripled in the last three years,” said Bryan Stockton, president of Mattel International.

Source : Telegraph

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