Review: Harumika

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2009GiftGuideButton I am not a terribly fashion-conscious person. Less so now, in fact, than I was as a teenager, college student and then young professional. Lately, my wardrobe choices have been driven more by comfort than style, but I’ve been trying over the past year or so to update things even just a little bit. But when it comes to matching fabrics and designing clothing in general – I am in total awe of those who have the creativity and ability to design clothing from scratch.

My kids are starting to develop their own senses of style now that they’re getting a bit older. My 8-year-old’s style is kind of a quirky mix of colors and she prefers to deliberately wear things that don’t match. My 6-year-old loves to wear skirts and dresses that she can twirl in, and bright, bold colors – her favorite color is red. I’ve been seeing a lot of fashion-related toys in the stores recently, and one that’s intrigued me for a while is called Harumika, “Style Your Imagination” from toy company Bandai America.

What it is:

header_background Harumika is a Japanese toy that was brought to America by Bandai in June of 2009. The premise of the toy is to allow kids to style their own fashions – without any sewing involved. The toy involves plastic dress forms that different fabrics and accessories are wrapped around and then attached in the back using the stylus design tool with the patent-pending Style Lock System.

Already a huge phenomenon in Japan, Harumika lets girls “style their imagination” and easily design attire with colorful fabrics and fashion accessories – all with no sewing required. The fun and excitement of fashion design continues online at the “House of Harumika” website and design portal. Girls can upload photos of their favorite looks to their “Style File” and display their designs in their own virtual “Dressing Rooms.” They can also show off their hottest looks to all their friends by participating in online fashion shows or creating their very own “Look Book” for their collections.

“All girls dream of being fashion designers, and Harumika allows girls everywhere to create their own unique styles on a dress form doll and then show off their designs to friends on the Harumika website,” says Danielle Armbrust, director of marketing, Bandai America Inc. “By expanding our girls category and bringing this fashion design phenomenon to the States, Bandai is inventing a whole new way for girls to play and express their style. With Harumika, every day is a runway day!”

There are several different Harumika products already in stores, including the Runway Showstopper Set, Style Starter Set, Designer Dress Form Set, On-the-Go Style Set, and various Style Accent sets. Courtesy of Bandai America and Global Influence (the former Momfluence network), we received a Harumika Runway Showstopper Set (comes with a pink dress form, stylus design tool, chic signature fabrics, fashion accessories, Harumika USB camera and two Harumika charms, which unlock special features on the Harumika website) to try out and review for the Momfluence Holiday Gift Guide.

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Here’s my our take on it:

When we first received the Harumika set, I was very curious what my girls would think of it, since we don’t really watch any of the fashion design reality shows and neither of my older girls had previously exhibited much of a desire to learn more about designing clothes. Maybe it’s just that they hadn’t really had a chance before though – because they have both taken to this set like crazy. In fact, I’ve already purchased a second Harumika set (the Fashion Show & Go set) to give them as a holiday gift, because having only one dress form for two little girls has created a wee bit of conflict in our house.

My 8-year-old loves to make and create things, and fashion is no exception as I’m discovering. She absolutely loves putting together different combinations of fabrics and accessories and has already spent hours creating some very creative and fun fashions with this set.

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It took me about 3 seconds flat to show her how to wrap the fabric around the dress form, and she was off and running. The package insert can be removed from the box and becomes a runway where you can show off your designs, and having the little camera included lets you take pictures of your creations as well. My daughter doesn’t have her own camera (yet), so having the little Harumika one has been a lot of fun for her. It does only work when plugged into a USB port, so you have to be right at the computer to use it, but she’s had fun taking her own pictures of her fashions.

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My 6-year-old also has had fun putting together her own designs, which is why I bought the second set so that they will both be able to play at the same time. I also bought one of the smaller Style Accent sets that just includes more fabric and accessory choices. And I think I’ll plan on pulling out my fabric scraps and finding some that will work for them as well. Which is one really nice thing about this toy – you’re pretty much only limited by what your imagination can come up with.

I should mention that we haven’t yet tried out the Harumika website. Right now we’re still limiting the girls’ online time quite a bit and neither of them has actually been online since we got the Harumika set to review. It looks like a fun website though – you can design your own clothing right on the site and create your own online ‘store’ to display all of your creations. You can also share photos of the fashions you’ve created with your Harumika toy sets. I think the girls will really enjoy the site once they get a chance to go on there.

The bottom line:

Harumika is a toy and online experience aimed at the fashionista in all of us, and lets kids use their imagination and be creative in a way that doesn’t require any sewing skills. The fabrics and accessories are all re-usable for hours of fun, and the Runway Showstopper Set comes with everything you need to get started – including the little USB camera to help permanently record kids’ creations, and the cardboard runway to provide a backdrop for all of their fashion shows.

Where can you find it?:

Harumika products are available at Toys R Us and Target and also online at Amazon. Prices vary depending on the retailer. You can find more information about Harumika at their website at – or become a fan on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

This post courtesy of: Bandai America and Global Influence (the former Momfluence network). No payment or compensation, other than product samples as described above, was received for this post. This review will also be included in the Global Influence Holiday Gift Guide.