Opinions

The Evolution of the Barbie Fashionista Line (2009-2017)

Personally, I find it difficult to remember what years things came out, so I used the fabulous “egolon fashionista guide” to help me remember! I also got the stock photos from there. I recommend checking out her site and photo stories if you haven’t already!

Generation 1 -Wild, Sweetie, Sporty, etc.

Ah, 2009. It was a lovely year for Barbie; it was the year Barbie Basics debuted, the year of Barbie’s 50th anniversary, and of course, the year we saw the arrival of the Fashionistas line that, shockingly, still continues today.

Aside from the odd gymnastics doll, these were the first mainstream fully-articulated dolls, and weren’t they a dream! For the first time, thousands (millions?) of dolls around the world could finally bend their knees, wrists and arms. What joy!

Their fashions are hairstyles were quite the step-up from the earlier “Fashion Fever” line, too. Unlike the “Fashion Fever” dolls, these dolls were given names that matched their personalities -from left to right, they were Artsy, Girly, Wild, Sassy, Cutie, Glam and Hottie.

These dolls were marketed towards an older, more “pre-teen” audience, if you ask me, at least in comparison to other dolls available at the time (such as the Three Musketeers dolls, who came wearing tiaras and princess gowns). The first Fashionistas line was advertised on sites such as Stardoll and Barbiegirls, which were / are aimed at preteen girls. We also saw the first Barbie app for iPhone, the first Fashionista dress-up quiz game.

I had Wild (the one in the leopard dress), and I found the quality of the fashion to be FANTASTIC. Out of all the clothing I own today, that dress is still one of the highest-quality fashions I own. However, the knees had a obvious “bend” and all the joints weakened after a few years, rendering the doll useless.

I later bought not one, but two Cutie dolls, who also did not stand the test of time (their joints turned to jelly as well).

Nonetheless, the first wave of Fashionistas was a force to be reckoned with!

The next wave of Fashionistas launched in 2010, and were as stylin’ as the last wave!

However, their names changed, and the gang was now known as Sassy, Sporty, Sporty Boy (how confusing, I know!), Sweetie and Cutie.

Unlike the first wave, these dolls featured better knees that don’t look as “bulky.” In my experience, dolls with these knees can very well still turn loose and “jelly-like,” but they can also survive many, many years of playtime. I’m not sure why this is; some dolls hold up better than others, I suppose!

I didn’t get any of these, but I remember seeing Sassy (the one on the left) in store and wanting her desperately. I eventually got Sweetie (the one in the pink dress) second-hand.

*there was another wave after this, a gift set, but I am going to exclude that because it never arrived where I live, so I never personally got to see it*

The first Swappin’ Styles wave arrived in 2010 and wow, what a surprise! These dolls were pretty unique and as such, created quite a storm! The dolls featured a tiny button on their backs, and when you pressed it, the head and neck popped off. You could then swap the heads around as you pleased, to create different ~lewks~.

The dolls’ names were changed again, now to Cutie Boy, Sweetie, Artsy, Sassy, Cutie, Sporty, Glam and Sporty Boy.

Advertising was big with this wave -the old Fashionistas app was gone, and was replaced with a newer, bigger dress-up app featuring a huge assortment of looks. While previously there was a game on the Barbie website, where you posed the dolls for a magazine article, these girls got a whole new webpage, featuring short webisodes, wallpapers and some other things I can’t quite remember.

Advertisements for these webisodes were plastered all over the packaging, similar to how Life in the Dreamhouse was advertised.

I have owned Sweetie (second to the left), Sassy (fourth), Sporty (sixth), the Sweetie extra head (long blonde hair), and the Sporty extra head (pigtails). In comparison to the first wave, these fashions were of much lesser quality. The material was thinner and the Velcro stopped working after a few months.

*there was another gift set after this, but again, it never arrived to where I live, so I never saw it in person, and I don’t know enough about it*

The Swappin’ Styles girls were back, and this time, with crazier fashions than ever! I only had two extra heads, the third one (Sassy), and the last one (Sporty). They arrived in 2011.

If you ask me, these fashions are incredibly cute and a lot better than the wave before. Many of these girls are still high on my wishlist today, and if I saw them, I’d grab them up in a second!

I can’t comment on the quality of the fashions, sorry.

This next wave arrived in 2011 and was called “In the Spotlight” in the US, and “Hollywood Divas” in the UK and Europe. These never arrived to my area, so I never saw them personally, but I wanted to include them because OMG LOOK AT THEIR CLOTHES. Again, these dolls are still high on my wishlist today because they are so incredibly fierce.

*there was another wave after this, called Jet Divas, but I won’t include it here because it never arrived to my area*

*there was another wave after that, called Fashionistas in Concert (2011). The doll’s dresses lit up, a first for the Fashionistas. However, I won’t include it here because it never arrived to my area and I don’t have any experience with them*

Generation 2 -Barbie & Friends

2011 was a big year for the Barbie Fashionistas; gone were the days of Sporty, Sweetie and Sassy -it was now time for Barbie and friends to shine! These dolls were still articulated, and the male’s hair was still rooted, but the quality of the fashions significantly dropped. The material was thinner and the Velcro was still low quality.

This wave included Ryan, Teresa, Shay Van Buren* (er, I mean Summer), Barbie I, Nikki, Barbie II, Raquelle and Ken.

As you can see, Barbie got pretty full of herself! Can you believe there was TWO “Barbie” dolls in this line? Guess she must have been pretty mad after missing out on the Fashionistas for so long!

*This was a reference to the  YouTube series Most Popular Girls in School. It’s a stop motion video series, and although the episodes are a bit long for my taste, I highly recommend it. It’s very funny.

This next wave premiered in 2012 (sorry for the smaller picture, I can’t be bothered to surf the net to find a bigger one).

Again, the dolls that featured were Ryan, Barbie I, Barbie II, Raquelle, Nikki, Teresa, Summer and Ken. I purchased Ryan, and I later got Nikki second-hand (I also burnt all her hair off using a hairdrier #soznotsoz #collectorlife).

The fashions were low-quality, although I must admit, the pattern on Ryan’s shirt goes all the way around. On the downside, the shirt has a big rip down the armpit (which is frustrating because I have barely used it). In previous waves, male dolls had articulated knees, but from here on they had straight knees. No more sitting for you!

Personally, I found the Generation 2 Fashionistas much worse than the Generation 1 dolls. For me, the first generation was fun, colourful and bubbly. The second generation was… ‘meh.’ Although I didn’t realise THERE WAS WORSE TO COME! (dun dun dunnn!)

*The next wave was another gift set, which also did not arrive to my area*

Rainbow Wave 1 was up next! These 2012 dolls were aptly named Barbie, Ken, Teresa, Barbie II, Ryan, Raquelle, Evil Summer and Nikki. Is it just me, or does Nikki look lighter than before? Maybe it’s just me.

I bought Barbie, and later bought Evil Summer second-hand. I found Barbie’s dress to be of good quality, it was certainly thicker than previous Fashionista dresses, and the gold flower was made of a different material. The floaty sleeve was a nice touch, too.

This Barbie doll still stands as my official “Barbie” doll.

The next glitter-tastic (see what I did there?) wave of Rainbow Fashionistas arrived in 2013. I remember refreshing the online Mattel Shop for weeks, waiting for the dolls, and then one day -bam! They finally arrived! These dolls all featured glittery hair and sparkly dresses. While I think their dresses are cute and unique party dresses, they aren’t as creative as before. But I suppose you can’t trot around in floor-length, light-up leopard print forever, right?

The dolls were named Ken, Nikki, Raquelle, Summer, Teresa, Barbie, Barbie 2 and Ryan.

In 2013, the “In the Spotlight” dolls were back! But instead of Sweetie, Sassy and the others, these dolls were named Teresa, Summer, Nikki and Barbie. I love all the dresses, except for Barbie’s. I only saw Nikki in the shops, and I regret not buying her. She was too expensive at the time.

I think these dresses are really creative and pretty, a big step-up from the previous wave.

*The next wave was a fashion giftset called “Fashion Fabulous,” but it never arrived to my area, so I will skip it*

Generation 3 -The Dark Era

Okay, so this is where things really went DOWNHILL. In 2013, we received two new waves -the Glam Party wave, and the Tropical Party wave.

The Glam Party dolls were Barbie, Teresa, Nikki, Barbie 2, and Ryan (with molded hair).

The Tropical Party dolls were Ken (with molded hair), Barbie, Raquelle and Summer.

All of these dolls had mediocre fashions, which many collectors dubbed “ugly” and completely unarticulated bodies. Gone were the days of bend ‘n snap bodies! These dolls had very stiff arms and legs, and you could not place them up against a wall without them falling down! They could not even sit on a chair without slipping off!

I ended up buying Tropical Barbie and Tropical Raquelle. I later received a second Tropical Barbie as a gift. Raquelle’s dress was made out of nice, thick material and the pattern went all the way around. In comparison, Barbie’s dress was very thin and the pattern stopped at the back.

Can you tell I am displeased with these dolls? Grr. What separated the Fashionistas from other Barbie dolls was their beautiful, beautiful articulation.

ON THE PLUS SIDE, Fashionistas greatly went down in price. Before, you’d pay $25-$20 for a single doll, but after the change, the dolls were now being sold for $15-$12.

The 2014 wave wasn’t any better. It was called “Style Party,” which is a rather odd name. What is it, a party where you stand around and look stylish?

We only received Barbie, Teresa and a second Barbie, all with unarticulated, stiff bodies. I purchased Barbie (left), and her hair was rock-hard. It had been hair sprayed to death! The dress pattern did not go all the way around, although I must admit, it’s not of bad quality. Very “silky” and easy to get on and off.

While they still used the Generation Girl facemould (like almost all dolls in the Fashionista waves so far), the eyes were quite bigger.

*Because we haven’t had enough parties yet, the next wave was called ‘Pyjama Party!’ It never arrived to my area, so I won’t discuss it, but it was pretty bad, from what I can tell from pictures*

Generation 4 -The Doll Evolves

Well, it seems like the folks at Mattel finally had enough of parties and actually got some work done! They released the first wave of “The Doll Evolves” in 2015, and a new stop-motion music video along with it, too.

I purchased Teresa and Kenzie (the Desiree with the blonde hair, at the bottom). There were lots of dolls from this wave I wanted, but many never arrived to my area, so I didn’t get a look in! Many of these dolls are still on my wishlist today.

However, despite the new facemoulds, hair colours and trendy fashions, these dolls still featured terrible articulation! Once again, they could not lean against a wall by themselves, nor sit down at a desk. If you placed them on the floor (sitting), they would fall over backwards!

I ended up selling both dolls from this wave. I found Kenzie’s hair too difficult to manage, and I didn’t like Teresa’s facemould. She looked like she was always staring off into space!

The next wave arrived in 2015 as well. A lot of these dolls are still on my wishlist today, as I never saw them at the shops. I only saw the first doll, the one that says ‘Dream’ and the one on the end, bottom row. Boo!

All the same comments from the above wave still stand -trendy fashions and hair, but awful articulation. ‘Nuff said.

2016 was when the fun really started! Curvy, petite and tall body types were introduced and collectors were terribly excited! I purchased the petite girl on the very left, and I still own her. She has the dearest face, and the loveliest hair!

I actually have never bought a curvy or tall doll before (but I’m not ruling it out in the future, I just have to find one I really like), so I can’t comment on that personally. But plenty of collectors adored this wave, and I have to agree! Many of these dolls are still on my wishlist today.

In 2017, we received a colourful assortment of dolls again, all with charming fashions, hair and quirky facemoulds. These haven’t arrived to my area yet (we only just received the 2016 dolls), but I’m sure they will come later next year.

We also received a bunch of new male dolls, with different body types! Slim, broad and original. While these haven’t arrived to my area yet*, but I am excited for the launch!

*Except for Hip Hop Hoodie (the one in the blue jacket). Although I think he’s part of the 2016 wave, technically? I’m not sure.

My Wishes for the Future….

While I love the current generation of Fashionistas, with their unique body types, cool fashions and exciting faces, I wish they were articulated! Especially when Made to Move dolls are $30-$20 each, which is really outside of my price range. I also wish the boys had rooted hair!

If not articulated, I wish they at least went back to bend ‘n snap legs. I prefer these legs because they allowed the dolls to do simple things, like sit on a chair, or lean against a wall, or sit on the floor without toppling over -all things that the current Fashionistas, with their stiff bodies, cannot do.

I think the first generation of dolls was very creative, and I really do love the fashions. They’re not “everyday wear.” but then again, this is Barbie we’re talking about! Why would you dress “normal” when you can dress fun?! In the future, I hope the Fashionistas include more party attire, and different types of material, like they used to.

What about you? What do you think about the different “generations” of Fashionistas? What do you hope comes out in the future?

(FWI, I totally made up these “groups” of “generations,” but I think it is a sensible and easy way to categorise the dolls, especially since there has been so many waves by now!)

 

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18 thoughts on “The Evolution of the Barbie Fashionista Line (2009-2017)

  1. I have a few of these dolls. I love 2nd generation Ryan and several of the new nonarticulated dolls. But lately I just pass them by in the shop because they look silly in person. Their eyes are too big and they just don’t appeal to me. I stick them on made to move bodies when I can find a match.

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    1. So true! I remember wanting the purple-haired girl from a recent wave desperately, only to see her in-store and realise her eyes were huge! That’s the case for many dolls nowadays, for me. On the plus side, at least we can get a full outfit for cheap? Haha.

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  2. I think I have a Generation 1 made to move from 2009. She can mover her knees, wrists, elbows, and chest. Except I don’t know what doll she is (Barbie, Summer, etc). She has silver earrings.

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    1. If she has long straight hair, with a fringe, she’s Wild. If she has brown and pink hair, she’s Sassy. If she has blonde curly hair, she’s Glam. All of them are cute, so you win no matter which one she is!

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      1. No, she has plain blond, hair-sprayed hair, a bit curled, with no fringes or other coloured hair. Maybe she isn’t one….. yet she looks like it! I can’t figure out any other possibility. I’ll be posting a post for help identifying her on Thursday, so then perhaps you could have a look at her for me? It would be a great help, thanks.

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      2. I think her head might have been changed. The head has the markings “MATTEL INC. 1998”. What date is it meant to have? I think she might have a made to move BODY but NOT a made to move head.

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      3. All the 2009 Fashionistas (excluding the boys, Sassy and Artsy) have the 1998 marking. It means ‘the year the facemould was first made,’ not when the doll was made. It’s pretty confusing! So yes, they are all meant to have that date. Oh, and also -the Fashionistas are different from Made to Move dolls, MTM dolls can touch their face, while Fashionistas can’t. This page explains it all http://egolonsville.weebly.com/fashionistas-wave-1.html

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  3. Great post, Holly! Although I have several stores to choose from that carry Barbies, it’s always the same selection, it seems. Where do you shop for, say older or limited editions like 2015 and beyond?

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    1. Isn’t it just! Everywhere I look, Dreamtopia dolls! Haha. When I am looking for older dolls, eBay or Gumtree (Australian Craiglist, you could call it!) is my first stop. I also love visiting second-hand markets, I find lots of grubby treasures there! Hope to see you on the blog again soon xx

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  4. When I got back into Barbie I was more into collector dolls’ faces and fashions than the pink-clad, kinda weird looking playline Barbie (my previous playline dolls were from around 2000), but I did end up with one Cutie fashionista. The white from her visor left paint in her hair. She was kind of out-of-date when I got her, maybe a couple years old. My local K-mart (U.S.) was a good place to find half priced clearanced Barbies that had already been phased out at the other department stores. I would rather have had the brunette Sporty in the hoodie, but by then she was nowhere to be found and pricey online. I missed out on the Kens with IMO the better face mold and used to think of the current wide-mouthed Kens as “frog-faced”. It was weird to have a playline doll without the bend and snap knees, but she was okay overall and I even got over her exaggerated face. At this point I started paying more attention to playline Barbie dolls and fashion packs. Cutie was my most articulated Barbie until I got more in the Life in the Dreamhouse line and eventually some Made to Move dolls. Even though I only had one fashionista I was disappointed when they became less articulated. To me fashionistas were the posable line, so how could they not be posable? I also wish I had gotten a posable Style doll or two in retrospect, but like Sporty, the red-vested Raquelle doll that I really wanted eluded me and became more expensive online. Current fashionistas are a mixed bag. I appreciate the variety, but it seems that I’ll like the doll but not the outfit, the outfit but not the doll, or neither. It amazes me how cheaply made the clothing seems to have gotten in just a few years, and some of the styles don’t seem very stylish. There are still a few gems out there I guess despite the cheapening of Mattel doll lines.

    Fashionista stands for something new now. It’s there to satisfy people looking for diversity in dolls and people who want more outfits where it used to be more for people who wanted to pose dolls. I don’t see them making posable fashionistas now since MTM is the current posable go-to, and they are only a few more dollars than fashionistas. A doll that has the older style articulation (but somehow slightly worse) seems to be packaged in bigger sets like the Musician or Drummer, and then there are the hybrid dolls with just knee joints or just elbows still in more expensive sets. Mattel knows they can sell more dolls by keeping their diverse/fashion line and their posable line separate, but it would be nice if fashionistas could strike a pose again. I’d liked to see better clothing quality in future fashionistas, and better quality control in all the dolls.

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    1. Quality control, definitely! I have seen far too many wonky eyed dolls lately, and dolls with their hair all scrambled up. And I definitely agree about the ‘mixed bag-ness’ of the current Fashionistas -sure they might be #relatable and #bodypositive, but some of the dolls just look plain weird! I think it might be because the lines are HUGE now -there’s so many dolls in each wave! I’d prefer it if there was fewer dolls, but they were all really good quality and had nice fashions / hair. Ah, just like the Fashion Fever days!

      The brunette sporty in the hoodie was big on my wishlist, too. There’s so many dolls I regret not buying that cost hundreds of dollars online now, mostly from the mid 2000s.

      At the end of the day, I agree when you say that Fashionistas probably will not be posable in the future. After all, Mattel wants to make money, right? And if lots of people will buy additional MTM dolls to make their Fashionistas articulated, well then, that’s more money for Mattel!

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  5. Thank you so much for your article, I found it accidentally and I found it so useful. I have tons of these dolls and always wondered what line and wave and character they are. And it was also nice to find out I’m was the only one to have been in shock when new stiff fashionistas were released. Coz I felt really disappointed. Will be looking for more of your articles on other lines. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah thanks! I would recommend checking out Egolon’s Ville as well, it’s a great resource for face and body moulds, as well as more detailed pictures.

      I find the stiff Fashionista bodies really frustrating! I don’t want to pay $12 for a Fashionista and then another $20 for a separate MTM body! Grr.

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  6. Thank you for providing all this information. Have to say, what I really want is jointing on the curvy and petite bodies, which can’t be swapped out for MTM bodies without defeating the point. Just knees and elbows would be good.

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    1. Absolutely! They have made a MTM Curvy body, but it’s quite rare and difficult to find. Hopefully we’ll get articulated petite dolls soon; I hardly touch my petite dolls because their bodies are so stiff :/

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