The Barbie Factor

17 March 2010

Has anyone else noticed how darn flippin’ cool Barbie has been going recently? Oh yes. First tottering around in her Louboutin kicks, then dressing up as Mad Men characters, and now - new mixed race dollies, called the So In Style Barbie are now available in The Wonder Room Concept Store at Selfridges.

There’s also Sharmadean Reid's Barbie cultural retrospective which runs alongside the dolls. She’s the too-cool-for-school lady behind everyone’s favourite fashwan nail bar WAH nails on Kingsland Road and WAH magazine of course. 

Sharmadean says – “Barbies representing people from all over the world is a marker of Mattel's understanding and progressive nature.  Totally free from Western clothing and hair, and loyal to their country's culture and heritage, Ghanaian Barbie for example, flips people's perceptions of Barbie on their head making them unique and collectible."  

Barbies show girls 'you can be anything you want to be' which is the message So In Style reinforces at the same time as appealing to little girls, whatever their background. The black Barbie is hardly a new idea, either - in 1980, Mattel introduced the first Latina and African American Barbie dolls.  Barbie has represented 45 nationalities, including: Japanese, Korean, Peruvian, Malaysian  . . . you get the idea.

In July 2008, Vogue Italia created their first Black Issue sending a strong message about the importance of diversity to the fashion world.  This special issue was a tremendous success from Milan to New York and last year, as part of Barbie's 50th anniversary celebrations, and in tribute to Barbie's cultural icon status, the magazine spectacularly replicated their Black Issue with a supplement dedicated to Barbie. So now you know the story.

Just for your info – another high fashion Barbie fan is none other than Grazia’s junior fashion news editor, Hannah Almassi. Check out her blog here, where she reproduces the key SS10 trends on her styled-up dollies Cute.


So In Style Barbie, £25, from Selfridges


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