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Why Bratz Dolls became 2021’s Style Muses

woman in black blazer smiling

You’ve probably seen today’s top trends on Bratz dolls, from chunky boots to mini skirts. Bratz was a pop-culture doll that everyone under 13 years old wanted. My parents wouldn’t let me own it. They didn’t like the name Bratz, which was a reference to “bratty teenagers.” They only made me want another toy by banning this sought-after toy. As a fashion-obsessed tween I wanted to look like Cloe, Jade or Sasha — it didn’t matter which one — in leopard print tube tops and go-go boots. It’s not surprising that I think about them now, 18 years later.

I don’t want to be able to buy a figurine in faux fur. Recently, however, I found myself trying to look like a Bratz Doll once again. Big-foot-inducing boots and micro-mini skirts, cardigans with cropped sleeves, and all. I’m not alone.

Bratz, which was founded in 2001, saw a second wave, when makeup artists and beauty influencers began to recreate the dolls’ vivid eyeshadows and glossy lips via Instagram. The #BratzChallenge was a success in the beauty industry and reached TikTok where it currently has over 161 million views. Style-conscious fans are now fully in support of the trend and recreate outfits inspired by their dolls to the tune of the brand’s main song. Bratz dolls were named 2021’s fashion muses just in time for the brand’s 20-year anniversary.

Syrena (@fauxrich), 22-year-old TikTok user, posts videos that mimic her Bratz number one doll’s looks. She captioned one video, “Channeling Miss Yasmin Today,” and it featured a fur-trimmed purple cardigan with feather-hemmed flare pants and matching crop top. The denim mini skirt was paired with heeled boots, a newsboy cap, and a pair of feather-hemmed flare trousers. Isidora Fernandez (17, also known as @isiifernandeez) recreates dolls’ looks on her TikTok which has more than 21,500 followers. You can imagine sheer socks paired over break-your-ankle platforms and tiny camisoles that are layered over baby tees with cap sleeves. There are also plenty of tiny plaid skirts.

Fernandez says the appeal lies in the dolls’ individual styles that complement their personalities and encourage self expression. Fernandez says, “Whenever I see myself in the mirror in a Bratz-inspired outfit I feel like I’m showing the world who and what I look like.” “It’s a way to gain self-confidence and self-love.” Vanessa Campana (@v_camps) says that dressing up in Bratz-inspired outfits is a way for her to feel confident. “I love the look and feel of channeling my Bratz doll self.”

Bratz dolls inspired young fashion enthusiasts to explore the world of clothes through their use of fluffy fabrics, matching sets and platform boots. Some went on to create their own designs. Jasmin Larian was the founder of Cult Gaia, a popular fashion label worn by Hailey Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski and Ariana Grande. She grew up with Bratz dolls like many Gen Zers, millennials, and their toys. Her time with Bratz doll maker Carter Bryant was a key part of her future career.

L’Officiel interviewed the designer in 2017. She said that Cult Gaia’s aesthetic was inspired by Bratz dolls. Larian claims that she spent most of her childhood working with the fashion designers who created the dolls’ clothes. It was at MGM Design studios that Bratz dolls were first created that Larian learned to draw clothing. Cult Gaia, a Bratz doll-like fashion designer, is responsible for the latest Bratz doll-like style: the pin top.

Cult Gaia doesn’t seem to be the only brand that gets its inspiration from dolls. Daisy Street, a U.K. fashion label, launched a collaboration on August 26th with Bratz via ASOS. The collection featured butterfly halter tops and baggy cargo pants as well as animal print sets.

Many are wearing Bratz-inspired clothing, but it is important to note that many of the dolls’ trends — including tiny skirts and clashing prints, platform shoes, platform boots, mini bags and fuzzy accessories — align with the current Y2K fashion. This could explain why Olivia Rodrigo and Emma Chamberlain, Iris Apow, and other Gen Z influencers are also dressing up like Bratz dolls. Rodrigo shared a slideshow of photos in June showing herself wearing a plaid mini dress and knee-high patent leather platform boots. Her hair was tied in tiny pigtails. Stephenie Smith, an Instagram user, commented below the photo: “Jade Bratz doll”

Bratz doll fashion has been missing from my life, and I have been waiting patiently for it to return. Finally, I can now own a Bratz doll. All four original dolls were reissued in June 2021. I can also dress up like one.

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