05 Feb Diversity in the toy world can help a lot in the real world: Welcome to Malaville
Posted at 09:10h
International fashion model Mala Bryan is launching her much-talked about Malaville
doll range today. The Caribbean-born model, who spends her time between Cape Town and Miami, is an avid doll collector. The idea to developing a range of brown and black skin toned dolls with natural hair curls arose out of a gap she (and many others) perceived in the commercial doll market. “Diversity in the toy world can help very much in the real world,” Mala says. We came across Mala’s dolls a little while ago via the Instagram feed of our inimitable milliner friend Crystal Birch
. The potential was too good to pass up, and we asked Crystal to style us a mini Mala doll shoot. In typical Crystal fashion, the looks come complete with custom-made hats and headdresses. We asked Mala a few questions about her dolls and the fantastical place called Malaville that Maisha, Mala, Malina and Mhina call home.
What prompted you to develop the Malaville dolls?
I’m a doll lover and had a dream a long time ago to have my own doll line one day. Seven years ago I started collecting Barbies and dolls from Integrity Toys (adult doll collectors) and realised that even though there were a few black dolls they all had long silky hair. So I had a strong urge to start the Malaville brand with dolls I felt were missing from the market, that being dolls in different shades of brown, little to no makeup but most importantly with kinky and curly hair.
Can you tell us why you think it’s important for each doll to have a different skin tone and hair curl?
Many children play with their dolls very seriously, and often times associate the dolls with themselves and their friends. Many black/brown children do not have dolls that they can relate to and children of other races do not have dolls that they can associate with their black/brown friends. So that right there pushed me even more to create dolls many children can relate to, because diversity in the toy world can help very much in the real world.
How have your experiences as an international model influenced your design and the aesthetics of the dolls?
My experience as a model allowed me to meet people of all colors and cultures. I’m very observant so I subconsciously made lots of mental notes. But it was my doll collecting and play that helped more when it came to designing my dolls. I knew what people were looking for by reading comments on doll collectors’ blogs and I combined that with what I also wished certain dolls had, which helped birth the debut collection.
You can buy Mala dolls online here.
Styling + Art Direction + hats: Crystal Birch // Photographer: Antonia Steyn // Models: Maisha, Mala, Malina and Mhina