Barbie launches range of wheelchair covers for adults, children and their dolls

Collection includes design by fashion label ART SCHOOL 

Sarah Young
Saturday 24 August 2019 13:10
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A range of stylish wheelchair covers for adults and children are being launched by the makers of Barbie.

It will include miniature versions designed specifically for the autumn/winter 2019 line of the dolls which come with a wheelchair and ramp.

The makers collaborated with Izzy Wheels – a Dublin-based brand that sells bespoke wheelchair spoke guards.

Founded by sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane, the company started out as a college project in 2015.

The concept for the brand was inspired by Izzy who was born with Spina Bifida and is paralysed from her waist down.

Ailbhe saw that her sister’s chair was the first thing people noticed about her, but recognised that it was not a reflection of her personality.

As a result, Ailbhe began designing a range of stylish wheel covers that expressed wheelchair users individuality and personality.

“Our mission with Izzy Wheels is to challenge negative associations with wheelchairs and let users celebrate their individuality by personalising their source of independence," Ailbhe said. "We want to show the world that wheelchairs can be so much more than a medical device, they can be a piece of artistic self-expression."

Izzy added that the brand’s covers help to make a person’s wheelchair into a “friendly object” rather than something that’s purely functional.

“Having stylish wheels on your chair that match your outfit or show off your interests immediately addresses the chair and opens conversation,” Izzy said.

“Having a Barbie in a wheelchair meant so much to me 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 sisters enlisted the help of four British artists and designers to create the limited-edition Barbie collection, including London-based inclusive fashion label ART SCHOOL, and graphic artists Malika Favre, Hattie Stewart and Annu Kilpeläinen.

Inspired by Swarovski jewellery and the idea of turning a wheelchair into an accessory, Stewart, an artist and illustrator, said her cover was designed to empower young girls.

“My design is all about Girl Power – fun and playful with interacting characters and bold patterns,” Stewart explained. “I was drawn to the iconic Barbie graphics from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, and incorporated diverse Barbie doll characters to show all the different facets of ‘girl power!’”

Today, Barbie represents a broader view of society for the next generation of children and continues to offer evolved diversity through different body types, hair colours, hair textures and ethnicities.

The AW19 line of Barbie dolls include a Barbie with a wheelchair and a ramp, and a Barbie with a prosthetic limb.

These are the first Barbie dolls with disabilities since the much-loved 1997 "Share a Smile" Becky doll.

Click through the gallery above to find out more about each of the new designs.

The Barbie x Izzy Wheels Wheel Covers will be available to buy for £124 per pair from Izzywheels.com as of 28 August 2019.

Meanwhile, the Barbie-Sized Wheel Covers will cost £6 per pair.

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