To Barbara Millicent Roberts, in short Barbie, introduced by Mattel, Inc. in 1959, the question of life partner came to the fore two years after the doll’s inception. In March 1961, Ken joined her, and quickly became a symbol of the teenage fashion. Ken was named after the son of the founders of the toy company.
Ken’s Early Era embraces 1961 to 1973. The first release pictures Ken in black swim trunks with white stripe, matching Barbie’s swimsuit. The blue-eyed and athletic boy is envisioned as the All-American representative of the teenage generation. This early version is called the boyish charm.
The Spirit & Urban Era (1974-1982) represents Ken as a superstar, or sun loving, or enjoying roller skating and jogging. In association with the Olympics of 1976, Ken joins the Olympic campaign wearing red, white, and blue outfit. By 1980, an innovative concept of crossing over a barrier on the grounds of race brought home Barbie’s circle of friends that included African Americans; in 1982, the first African American Ken was introduced.
The Collectable Era and Now Era (1983-1998) were characterized with the debut of Rocker Ken who took the fans by surprise with his determined look. Representing the Basketball activity in aqua in the All Star Team, Ken was part of the fitness mania sweeping America during the ’90s. The Butterfly Art produced Ken’s first tattoo, too, in the year of 1998/99.
Some of Ken’s favorite looks date from the Millennium Era (1999-2005): a goatee for casual gatherings; a mustache for the movies; a clean shave for a dinner date… Style prevails. For certain Barbie collections during the period, however, the Ken trademark name is not used. By the way Barbie and Ken split in 2004, and six years after they got back together to marry in 2011.
The Millennium 2 (2006-beyond) enjoys the reproduction of the Flock Hair Ken to underline the subtle dominance of Ken fashion. Gareth Pugh, one of London’s most prominent fashion designers for men, selected a hand made 2009/10 outfit for Ken.
New challenges are on the way for Ken!