Bratz is a franchise owned, developed, and promoted by MGA Entertainment. The franchise is a milestone in MGA Entertainment history, being one of the biggest projects they’ve ever launched and is still listed under MGA’s brands 20 years later.
Preparational development of the franchise began in 2000, based on the ideas of Carter Bryant, and came to an end in the months of March, April and May of 2001, when the world was introduced to Bratz. It performed okay but didn’t see much success until the holiday season of 2001 with the brand rising in popularity with strong sales from 2001-2006. In 2007, sales slowly dropped after the hype of the Bratz Dolls died out and in 2009, they were discontinued though it was due to a law suit between Mattel rather than poor sales. In 2010, Bratz were re-released for their 10th Anniversary. Unfortunately, in 2014, Bratz went on hiatus due to poor reception. MGA stated "they rushed the release" of the dolls after the court order. In the midst of the lawsuits, Carter Bryant, the original designer, was released from the company. In 2015, the Bratz were re-designed with a cuter face mold and child-friendlier fashion. In 2017, Bratz went on another hiatus due to poor reception. In 2018, Instagram influencer and designer Hayden Williams was called on board to design an exclusive Collectors' line for the Bratz dolls. In the present, since Hayden Williams' dolls were released, Bratz are mostly being promoted and conceptualized by fans, Instagram influencers, such as photographer Martin Cantos, and clothing designers and stores such as Bershka and Hot Topic.
Bratz was created by former Barbie Designer Carter Bryant, who had came up with the idea for the dolls. “The inspiration for Bratz came to Bryant in 1998 after he spotted a few teenagers hanging out around Kickapoo High School, located in Carter Bryant's hometown of Springfield, Missouri, he also lists a Steve Madden ad he saw in a magazine as another inspiration as well. His initial vision for the dolls was for them to have "mix-and-match" potential, from having interchangeable outfits, feet changes, wig changes, and even head changes! The only concepts that stuck in most of the final product were the interchangeable outfits and the snap-off feet.”
The Bratz were originally supposed to be named Angelz, though sometime during production the name was changed to Bratz.
“Initially, Isaac Larian, the CEO of MGA Entertainment, thought the dolls looked like aliens, but it has been noted that his daughter, Jasmin Larian, showed enough interest to convince the CEO to pick up the project.”
“Bratz were released in May 2001 but didn't see success until the holiday season. Despite criticism from parents and some feminist groups, Bratz dolls' popularity skyrocketed. Throughout the 2000s, the Bratz managed to take over 40% of the fashion doll market, especially after movies, a TV series, music albums, and other merchandise were released to promote the brand. “
“Other product developers, such as Paula and Pua, were brought on board. MGA also began bringing on other designers to flesh out the Bratz brand such as Ellen Komatsu, Michelle Lucas, Lui Domingo, Daniel Garcia, Maggie Bermudez, Janene Dunbar, Youngsin Kwon, Jessica Miranda, Desiree Taylor, Ron McPherson, Diana Chang, Susan Sayan, among others.”
“MGA also formed a partnership with Mike Young Productions (now Splash Entertainment), producer of the ever-popular Bratz TV series and Rock Angelz movie. They continue to produce much content for MGA's other brands. Films were released through Fox Entertainment, Universal, and Lionsgate. MGA also teamed up with Universal and producer Matthew Gerrard for the infamous Rock Angelz album.”
“In 2008, the Bratz dolls were ordered to be removed from shelves after several years of lawsuits between MGA Entertainment and rival doll company Mattel, beginning with MGA filing a lawsuit in 2004 over similarities between Mattel's Myscene and MGA's Bratz. Mattel counter-sued stating that Carter Bryant was under contract with them while employed under MGA, which according to their contract meant they were the true owners of the Bratz and deserved royalties. Dozens of Bratz drawings and models were awarded to Mattel. MGA filed an appeal to have the Bratz return to shelves. Shortly after, Steve Madden's photographer, "Butch" Belair, also filed a lawsuit against both companies, which MGA took on and prevailed.” - (credit to bratzpack.fandom.com for most of this information)
When Bratz first released, it was heavily criticized and news reports aired claiming the brand was sexualizing teenage girls and perpetuating unrealistic body standards such as big lips, eyes, and small waists.
The brand was actually expected to fail due to the bad press, though during the holiday season the first edition dolls became an instant hit and sold out, to the point where store shelves were cleared and they were in high demand. In 2010, after a lawsuit with Mattel and loss of money due to the lack of products being pushed out and money used during the court cases the Bratz franchise chose to target mothers who had thought the previous dolls were to inappropriate, and covered the dolls up giving them leggings when a skirt was to short or a jacket when they worse crop tops, collections who were notable for doing this during 2010-2014 received poor reception from fans.
In 2015, the Bratz brand was rebooted and targeted a younger demographic rather than the former tweens and teens demographic the brand had once focused on, the dolls were given bigger eyes, bigger lips, and bigger feet as a more cartoonish and friendly look. This reboot had poor reception from fans as well, and the brand quietly went on hiatus in 2017.
In 2018, Bratz released collector dolls that received mixed reception from fans. Some thought the art was not accurate to the dolls, or the designs were just not good in general whilst some fans enjoyed them. The quality control on these dolls has always been a big discussion though and still to this day.
In 2021, Bratz celebrated their 20th anniversary. Not much is known about this, though the confirmed release date is somewhere from either July 2021-October 2021. It’s expected that each 20th Anniversary lines will release one at a time.