Thrift Chic Challenge by Kenneth Barbie

By Joshua Langston

Photos by Anna Thorsen

One of my favourite parts of Eco Fashion Week is The “Thrift Chic” Challenge presented by Value Village. The stylists involved get a budget of $500 to style a complete collection from items found at Value Village. There are rules such as the entrants must only use items found at Value Village. They cannot make any major changes to the garments, or re-work them. When I heard that Kenneth Wyse aka “Kenneth Barbie” was going to be a participant, I was beyond excited.


Kenneth is one of the few people in Vancouver that truly captivates me, because he is one of the most authentic people I have ever met in my life. Kenneth is a stylist that is no stranger to Vancouver’s fashion glitterati. He recently became one of the Fashion Editors at one of my favourite local publications One1One Magazine. If there is one word to describe Kenneth, it would be fearless, from the risks he takes not only in his styling projects, but also in his own personal style.  This collection served not only as a reflection of his own androgynous style, but also as a metaphor for how he lives his life.


“The collection was based on disregarding the idea of classic menswear and womenswear being suitable for a particular sex. In my everyday life I choose what looks best for me and what suits my mood . It was an Homage to my classic love of ken and Barbie . Lots of influences from 90s iconography such as clueless. It was supposed to be upbeat and happy , and to show that any ken can be a Barbie and any Barbie can be a Ken” – Kenneth Wyse


The opening video of the show had “Barbie and Ken” singing Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”, which seemed to be the obvious way to kick off the runway.

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The colour palette played up typical gender association by mixing pink, blue, black, white, cream and grey. I definitely got a bit of nostalgia from the 90’s inspiration with the knee socks and pastel cardigans. The pleated skirts and back packs also reminded me of one of my favourite movie characters of that era, Cher Horowitz from Clueless. The ladies walked with a playful confidence, some holding barbie dolls and others sucking on lollipops playfully without looking like pornstars.

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I really appreciated the mens styling and how cohesive it was with the overall theme. From daisy dukes with fur vests and loafers, to short’s suits and my favourite, the boxy hot pink suit. His model selection was ON POINT and was a huge factor in executing his theme.

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Kenneth put forth a collection that was true to the essence of the challenge. There was no bells, no whistles, no overworking of the pieces, just simply a well STYLED collection. I am a bit of a barbie fan myself, both of the mattel and Kenneth Barbie variety, and this barbie quote sticks out to me ““What makes you different just might be your greatest strength.””. 

Thank you Kenneth for showing me a collection that was not only nostalgic but a direct reflection of the enigmatic person I have been fortunate enough to get to know.


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