Barbie has partnered with Harlem’s Fashion Row to honor Black fashion designers with custom dolls in runway-ready outfits. Designers Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa, Patrick Henry, professionally known as Fresh, of Rich Fresh, and Kimberly Goldson of her eponymous brand had their exact designs replicated in miniature form to be showcased on diverse Barbies.
Founded in 2007 by Brandice Daniel, Harlem’s Fashion Row, or HRF, is the premier agency creating a bridge between brands and designers of color in fashion through brand strategy, collaborations, new media, experiential marketing, recruiting, and pipeline programs according to the website.
“Since its inception, Barbie has been a right of passage, an impression of self-awareness for young girls everywhere. Now, more than ever, Barbie celebrates our differences, and I’m excited that Harlem’s Fashion Row gets to play a part in widely diversifying their style too,” expressed Daniel in a statement. “With this Black History Month collaboration, black designers; Hanifa, Kimberly Goldson, and Rich Fresh, give Barbie fresh-off-the-runway appeal with their unique design aesthetics.”
Hanifa held its first runway show in November 2021 and the look featured is from the landmark collection. The Barbie flaunts the Brooklyn Jacket, which is described as Hanifa’s dream coat and symbolizes the belief that dreams can become reality.
“Who didn’t love Barbie as a little girl?! I loved my Barbie Dream House with the most perfect elevator, it gave me the chance to dream in real life. I’m so thankful for this opportunity to connect to my childhood and I’m happy to see that little Black girls everywhere can see themselves starting with their favorite toy,” shared Mvuemba.
“What drew me to the Barbie project the most is the level of inclusivity I saw in the Barbie Universe. There’s Barbies for everybody,” shared Fresh. “Deliberately. I knew this would be a project I could get involved with. It’s important for kids of all cultures to see themselves. Representation is vital. Involving black creatives gives us the opportunity to contribute to the narrative. The significance of doing this during Black history month is important, but what’s more important is the continued efforts to involve creatives from all backgrounds to help represent themselves within the Barbie Universe.”
The Rich Fresh look selected for Barbie is modeled after Fresh’s muse, August McQueen. The outfit itself is a tracksuit from the Winter Collection 2021 and is one of Fresh’s all-time favorite pieces.
The Kimberly Goldson look worn by Barbie is the “Mari” multi-layered dress paired with the “Lizzette” shorts in copper metallic, from the Spring 2022 Collection, “Blissful Evolution.”
“It is powerful of Barbie to use her platform to help bridge the gap on the way we look at people of various shades and from different backgrounds,” remarked Goldson. “That made it important for me to partner with her to wear Kimberly Goldson for Black History Month. I chose a look that personifies the KG aesthetic which is born of our Brooklyn culture and driven by luxury. She’s ready for Bed Stuy!”
Harlem’s Fashion Row is auctioning off the one-of-a-kind designer dolls to benefit their nonprofit organization ICON360, which provides financial resources and professional development to Black designers and HBCU fashion programs.