Remember the Kith x Barbie styling competition in 2019? Of course. The more important question is: Do you remember who won? Back in September of 2019, Kith announced that it would be teaming up with Barbie for a doll styling competition to celebrate Barbie’s 60th anniversary. Participants had to set up appointments to get the opportunity to style a Barbie doll with the 100 curated Kith pieces to choose from. The winning doll would become the official Kith x Barbie doll. In October, Kith fans got the opportunity to vote on the final six Barbie dolls that had been selected by the fashion industry’s top stylists including Dianne Garcia, Maeve Reilly, and Ade Samuel along with director of Kith Women Jackie Skye Kim. On October 17, the votes were in and Kith announced that the Kith Women x Barbie doll was the doll styled by Mekka Shyian.
Mekka Shyian is a 25 year-old wardrobe stylist who grew up in Newark, New Jersey. Growing up nearing the fashion capital New York City along with being around her grandmother and aunt’s vending business, she developed a love for fashion at a young age. Even more specifically, she developed a passion for buying and merchandising which led her to earning her degree in fashion merchandising and retail marketing at Johnson and Wales University. During her time at JWU, she got the opportunity to study abroad at Florence University of The Arts in Florence, Italy. While in Florence, she worked at the school’s consignment boutique called F.L.Y. as a visual merchandiser, fueling her interest in styling. According to Mekka, those moments in Florence matched with the teachings of her grandmother and aunt “catapulted my love for fashion to a different level”.
Fast forward to the announcement of the Kith x Barbie styling competition, Mekka’s boyfriend was hoping to enter her into the contest as a surprise for her. While she was at work, he revealed his plans had crumbled as he was not able to enter her into the competition. Mekka was completely unaware of the event itself, but it peaked her curiosity as she read up on it despite not being to participate. After gathering more information about the competition, she was indeed upset that she missed out this but little does she know her luck was about to change that very weekend during the styling appointments.
While taking their usual stroll through Soho, Mekka and her boyfriend stumbled upon the Barbie installation on display at Kith. The two walked around the pop-up browsing through the history of Barbie and the first collections as the contest participants walked in and out of the styling rooms. One minute, Mekka was reading the history and the next she was about become apart of history as her boyfriend talked security and coordinators into getting her an appointment to style a Kith x Barbie doll.
Before entering the styling room, Mekka took herself back to her school days and decided to brush up on her knowledge on Kith. From their website to their Instagram, she made sure she knew everything about the brand from its history to its aesthetic. Essentially, she treated the competition as if the styling appointment with her client (Barbie) was real, pulling miniature pieces that were both trendy and on-brand for her “client”. Mekka explained the reasoning behind her process to us, “I’m not competitive but if I’m going to compete, I’m going to do it RIGHT”. Moreover, Mekka selected a Black barbie with a blonde short cut to work with. Growing up, she only had Black Barbies as her mother felt that was representation was important even with her toys at her young age. Before passing away, Mekka’s older cousin also supported her love for Barbies and even played with her at times causing Mekka to look up to her as her “first friend” and now as a huge inspiration behind her Kith x Barbie doll. In Mekka’s eyes, it was only right to go with the only Black doll available for the culture and for her family.
While in the styling room, Mekka was dressed to impressed with an oversized fringe-embellished jean jacket made by her boyfriend which got the people around her talking. Mekka even told us she made friends with people working the contest, “I was able to get comfortable and really do what I love to do. They laughed and kept commenting on how every time they cleaned up after me I went back and made a mess. They hyped me up once I got down to my final look, it was so cool.”
About a month later, Mekka received a email that her Kith x Barbie doll had been selected as one of the final six styling dolls. She couldn’t believe it! When she saw the video of the well-known panel of judges reviewing and selecting her doll, she said she was “floored”. At this point, Mekka was okay with not winning the entire competition. The simple fact that she made it to the final six dolls was all the recognition she needed.
Mekka was at work during the day voting for the Kith x Barbie doll ended when someone asked when they would announcing the winner. Soon after, her boyfriend broke the news to her that she had won. Mekka couldn’t believe what she was hearing and seeing, so she took to Instagram to confirm the news and it was indeed true. Her doll had been voted as the official Kith x Barbie by “popular demand”. She described the moment as “emotional” and “huge” because a Black Barbie won and she knew that she made her cousin proud.
Winning the contest opened Mekka Shyian’s to so many new aspects. As those in fashion and those trying to break into fashion know, the industry is quite competitive and hard to get into. You have to set yourself apart and be willing to take risks to get to where you want to be. The Kith x Barbie competition showed her that and unlocked a newfound level of confidence in her and has taken her “passion to a new level.” Today, Mekka continues pursue her career in styling by testing out new techniques and adjusting to the new times we are now in. Remember the name Mekka Shyian because she told Pretty Phresh, “I have so much more for the world to see!”