Irish Wheelchair Cover Designers Launch Range For Barbie

Dublin-based brand Izzy Wheels has collaborated with Barbie to create a range of stylish wheelchair covers for adults and children.

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

Izzy Wheels – founded by sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane – started out as a college project in 2015.

Ailbhe noticed that Izzy – who was born with Spina Bifida and is paralysed from her waist down – was being recognised more by her wheelchair rather than her, something that wasn't a reflection of her personality.

This encouraged her to design a range of personalised wheel covers that expressed 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.

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

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