Barbie Gets the High Fashion Treatment in Pint-Sized Couture

by Meg Zulch

Were you a Barbie-loving 90’s kid? Do you love all things fashion? Enter the world of Tiny Frock Shop,  where high fashion runs on a much smaller scale. And I mean tiny. The online shop is exclusively for Barbie and all her style and accessory needs. Pamela Thompson, experienced designer, mother and Barbie fan, is the woman behind all this mini couture. 

Thompson lived in New York City for eighteen years, and worked as a designer for major names like Betsey Johnson, Heatherette and Anna Sui. After giving birth to her daughter, Lily, she left the city and moved back home to Chicago. Since the design opportunities in the Windy City were not as plentiful as New York, the choice came at a seemingly heavy price for her burgeoning career in fashion.


Thompson with her daughter, Lily.

But Thompson was determined to not let motherhood or distance from the Big Apple dismantle her dreams, and instead merged her passion for design, fashion and creativity with her new maternal life.

 “I was trying to figure out a way to use what I’ve learned in the industry over all those years and boil it down to a smaller scale, a microcosm of the fashion world,” Thompson told BUST in a recent interview, “So I ended up deciding that maybe dolls were the way to go.”


Five years later, Thompson runs a web-store of beautiful resale clothing for Barbie you can’t find anywhere else online. Hand-picked from archives and restored by Thompson herself, the shop includes numerous Vogue-worth outfits and accessories that make a serious case for pint-sized high fashion. “I see the clothes as little pieces of history that I want to revive and nurture back to health,” she said. “Because you know there’s a story with each one. To know that they were loved by and had been played with by someone in the past is so cool.”

The shop offers everything from collared dresses and turtlenecks, to mesh tops and lace leggings. The accessories are as equally to-die-for (check out the Video Killed the Radio Star Glasses).

With her 5 year old daughter as “CEO” of the company, and the “staff” of the store made up of dolls, Thompson’s effort to make the store fun and friendly for kids is clear.

 “I’ve always been a mentor while I’ve been a fashion designer,” she said. “And so I was thinking of ways to sort of help kids see what the fashion industry is like, but from their level.”

 Thompson provides visitors with profiles for each “model,” complete with doll interviews and personality descriptions. She also has “behind-the-scenes” content, and stages mini photo shoots and fashion shows. “It just sort of lets me do all the parts of the industry that I loved being involved in,” she said, “but without actually having to be in New York. And also I get to play at the same time!”


 As the shop grows more successful, Thompson soon wants to try her hand at designing new pieces for Barbie, and will soon be offering downloadable patterns for aspiring fashionistas to DIY for their dolls. There is also hope to work with some major designers and former collaborators to design a collection for Tiny Frock Shop.

 “My dream would be to have Betsey (Johnson) or Anna (Sui) or someone like that come in and do guest designs,” she exclaimed with a laugh. “But we haven’t gotten to that point yet!”

Visit the site here, and start making your Barbies the best dressed dolls on the block! 



Photos via Tiny Frock Shop

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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