Mattel evolved its Barbie Fashionistas line this year to include dolls with physical disabilities, including a doll with a wheelchair and a doll with a prosthetic limb. Its latest collaboration now gives wheelchair users— life-sized and doll-sized—the opportunity to express themselves through fashion.
To create the wheel covers, Barbie collaborated with Izzy Wheels, a Dublin-based brand founded by two Irish sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane. Initially a college project, the idea was inspired by Izzy who was born with Spina Bifida and is paralysed from the waist down. Ailbhe saw that her sister’s chair was the first thing people noticed about her, but it wasn’t a reflection of her bright and bubbly personality. Ailbhe began designing a range of stylish wheel covers that expressed wheelchair users individuality and personality, transforming a medical device into a piece of fashion and self-expression.
Izzy Keane said, “Having a Barbie in a wheelchair meant so much to be as a little girl, and I love that a whole new generation of kids with disabilities can play with a Barbie that represents them.”
The Barbie x Izzy Wheels collaboration includes four designs that can be sized to fit any manual wheel chair, and miniature versions in Barbie scale that are designed to fit the Barbie with Wheelchair doll. The limited-edition wheelchair wheel cover designs were created by UK-based artists and designers, including London-based inclusive fashion label ART SCHOOL and graphic artists Malika Favre, Hattie Stewart, and Annu Kilpeläinen, who were invited to reimagine Barbie in her 60th year. The wheel covers will be sold on IzzyWheels.com from August 28.