American Girl debuts new doll with Harlem roots
The beloved American Girl line of dolls and books launched a new historical character Tuesday that has roots in Harlem.
Celebrating the Harlem Renaissance, Claudie Wells is the newest doll added to American Girl's flagship lineup of dolls and books. Her story, of growing up in Harlem in 1922, was written by acclaimed author Brit Bennett.
The Harlem Renaissance was a profound period of cultural growth, the most influential movement of African American artistic and cultural expression in U.S. History, the company says, and Claudie's story will take readers on a journey to this moment of Black artistic joy and expression, while also exploring the challenges of the times.
The debut of Claudie Wells started with a tweet by Bennet, where she shared her desire to write an American Girl story based on her own experience with the brand, says American Girl General Manager Jamie Cygielman.
"We loved the idea and felt it was the perfect time to celebrate how—after more than 35 years—American Girl has made such a positive impact on the lives of so many. The timing is even more powerful given this incredible resurgence of nostalgic love we're experiencing from our fans of all ages," Cygielman says.
Claudie, 9, is surrounded by talented artists of all trades in the Harlem community, and while she loves hearing about the adventures and stories of her community members, she worries about now having her own special talent to share with the world, the company says. As she begins to find her way as a storyteller, she uncovers her own family's history and better understands why Harlem has become home to so many Black people searching for freedom.
Each Claudie doll comes with a paperback "Meet Claudie" book, which is also available in an all-new keepsake, hardcover edition, the company says. The book is illustrated by the award-winning Laura Freeman whose works have been featured on the New York Times Best Seller List.
In addition to author Brit Bennett, American Girl collaborated with subject-matter experts who advised on Claudie's development.
The 18-inch Claudie doll features an all-new face mold, has brown eyes and dark, shoulder-length hair styled in bouncy ringlets and a hairbow, and comes dressed in her signature blue-and-white plaid dress and knit cardigan, the company says. Her accessories include a heart-shaped necklace, a cloche hat, a journal, and an era-authentic Baby Ruth candy bar.
American Girl is collaborating with Harlem's Fashion Row, a design agency that aims to create a bridge between brands and designers of color in fashion, and designer Samantha Black, who designed three special-edition outfits for the line.
Claudie's collection also includes a doll-sized kick scooter, of plush version of her favorite dog, Dizzy Dot, and an authentically-styled 1920s bakery with more than 60 pieces.
The new Claudie product collection and keepsake is available on the American Girl website and at all retail locations.