The Fashionistas line is a definite improvement to Barbie Dolls. I LOVE how poseable they are, with all the joints (head swivels, bust moves side to side, shoulders, elbows, thighs and knees jointed). They seem to be for the 6 and up crowd, since younger girls might be too rough and break off a hand or something. They are hollow, which is necessary for ball jointing, so they don't feel as weighty as earlier dolls.
I would disagree that they are 'cheap' feeling, since I generally collect very expensive asian ball jointed dolls, these are flippin' amazing for the price. The shoes alone are so well detailed and fit perfectly, staying on the feet through hours of play. My daughter has 'collected' this line since they were introduced and she hasn't broken any of the dolls (even with a little brother running around!) so, they are more durable than the look.
The clothes are of average quality, very detailed, but aren't as nice as clothes from when I was a kid. Of course, they are very inexpensive, so that's to be expected. We have purchased several beautifully made outfit/dresses from sellers on etsy.com that fit the dolls perfectly, so its fairly easy to buy American made clothes in all manner of styles.