Harlem’s Fashion Row founder Brandice Daniel reminisces the sweet childhood memories of having a Barbie Dream House, every young girl’s staple for their doll collection. Deemed as one of her favorite Christmas gifts, Daniel loved the ability to style her dolls in any which way that she pleased. Now as a gap bridger in the fashion community through HFR and ICON360, Daniel has partnered with Barbie to launch doll-sized replicas of the designs from renowned Black fashion creatives Hanifa, Richfresh, and Kimberly Goldson.
“To see Barbie’s evolution and all of the cool projects they’ve done with Shiona Turini, Dapper Dan, they have become the most diverse doll company in the world,” Daniel told ESSENCE. “It’s really cool to be able to do this project together.”
While Daniel admitted to previously partnering with Mattel before, she says that her dedication to providing a platform for designers of color to show their skills and abilities through Barbie was a no-brainer for her when carefully selecting a collaborator. “In an industry that’s often non-accessible to the group and through the partnership, we’re tapping into Barbie style’s global platform to really celebrate the incredible work of these designers,” Daniel told ESSENCE.
Featured in the Black History Month collaboration are three Black designers; Hanifa, Kimberly Goldson, and Rich Fresh who will “give Barbie fresh-off-the-runway appeal with their unique design aesthetics,” according to an official press release. “Those are three designers we’ve admired for so long. We had worked with each of these designers on separate projects previously and all of them bring a very different perspective and a very unique perspective that we thought would be incredible for the Barbie style platform,” Daniel told ESSENCE about her choice of designers for this capsule. While Hanifa’s doll will be sporting a look from her Fall/Winter 2021 collection designed by Anifa Mvuemba, Kimberly Goldson’s doll is rocking the multi-tiered Mari dress from its sister-owned label’s Spring/Summer 2022 line.
Beyond Black History Month, Daniel wants to give Black designers, stylists, and fashion architects their flowers while they’re here for their contribution to the fashion industry. “[Black History Month] is every month and Black designers are American history, outside of being black history. So much of the foundation of this country, especially in the fashion industry, really started with Black designers,” Daniel praised of the cultural impact of Black designers. “At the time, they were called dressmakers because they weren’t given that title due to this country’s systematic issues. It’s incredibly important every month to celebrate the history of Black designers and to shine a light on the current designers of color because they deserve a seat at the table.”
For Harlem’s Fashion Row, this isn’t the first collaboration of its kind when it comes to partnering with a leader in the toy, trinket, and doll space. In 2021, HFR collaborated with American Girl for their ‘World By Us’ collection, with a special capsule collection designed by Janie and Jack inspired by the dolls. Featured designers for the ‘World By Us’ collection included designer and Nichole Lynel The Label founder Nichole Lynel, Afro-Latina designer Kristian Lorén, and NYC-based designer Samantha Black.
Harlem’s Fashion Row is auctioning off the one-of-a-kind designer dolls to benefit their non-profit organization #ICON360, which provides financial resources and professional development to Black designers and HBCU fashion programs. Scroll through Harlem Fashion Row’s collaboration with Barbie in the Instagram post above. The editorial is also available for viewing on Barbie’s global Instagram platform on February 24th.