Arts & Culture

Harlem’s Black Fashion Designers Are Celebrated With Stylish, High-Fashion Barbies


Harlem’s Fashion Row and Mattel’s Barbie joined forces to celebrate Black designers for Black History Month and beyond. The stunning looks featured on the Barbie dolls are miniature replicas of works by fashion designers Anifa Mvuemba (Founder of Hanifa), Patrick Henry (Founder of Rich Fresh), and sisters Kimberly Goldson and Shelly Powell (Founders of Goldson). 

Hanifa’s “Brooklyn Jacket” is from Mvuemba’s fall/winter ‘21 runway collection. When reflecting on what this opportunity means to her, she thought back to her childhood and how much of a win this is for Black girls. “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,” she said. “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.”

Our next Barbie will rock a look from the new spring 2022 Goldson collection called “Blissful Evolution.” The sisters selected their “Mari” dress, a stunning multi-layered dress of pink, metallic, and orange hues. “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,” Goldson told WWD. “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 out of our Brooklyn culture and driven by luxury. She’s ready for Bed-Stuy!” 

The last look in this partnership is from Patrick Henry’s Rich Fresh. The design, which originated from Rich Fresh’s 2021 winter collection, is a color blocked tracksuit that was modeled after Henry’s source of inspiration, August McQueen. 

Henry spoke on how the desire to continue creating more representation is what attracted him to the opportunity. “What drew me to the Barbie project the most is the level of inclusivity I saw in the Barbie universe,” he said. “There’s Barbies for everybody. 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 of all backgrounds to help represent themselves within the Barbie universe.”

Brandice Daniel, chief executive officer and founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row, also weighed in on the significance of this project. “Since its inception, Barbie has been a rite of passage, an impression of self-awareness for young girls everywhere,” she said. 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. 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.”

The outfits are styled on real Barbies, but are not for sale, as the intention is to raise awareness and support for Harlem’s Fashion Row. This editorial continues Barbie’s strive towards more representation and inclusion, and comes shortly after their Inspirational Women series, which has honored trailblazing Black women such as Ida B. Wells, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosa Parks, and Maya Angeleou with their own Barbie. 

See more by visiting @BarbieStyle on Instagram. 

Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I also manage a book hub, which you can find on Instagram @bloomingliterature.

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