A major business anniversary is about to occur, one with significant local connections.
Nearly 50 years ago, Barbie leapt onto the nation’s toy market. Our social structures and fashion values haven’t been the same since.
Just talk to Margaret Voelker-Ferrier, an associate professor at U.C.'s College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning. She hauls just some of her 500 collected Barbie dolls – and her assembled 1,000, count ‘em, 1,000 doll outfits - into the classroom every semester to show off how fashion sense has changed over the decades. “Obviously, it’s a gimmick,” the dress-meister concedes.
It was early March in 1959 when Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel Inc., unveiled her creation at the New York Toy Fair (named after her own daughter, Barbara). The first “Barbie” flopped, big-time, at the fair, but Handler — not to be swayed — took her toy doll directly to consumers via advertising. So a polyurethane legend was born.

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