There's little doubt, Geek Girls are big business these days, and one of the fastest growing segments of nerd-dom is nerdy but feminine fashion! There are so many new companies popping up to cater to the style-conscious nerd (read my run down on the best from this year's SDCC here), but one of the biggest, best, and first labels catering specifically to women is the incredible Her Universe.
I've written before about these amazing designs, from simple T-shirts and tank tops (actually fitted for women!), to cute cardigans, skirts, dresses, and even jewelry for fangirls. Now I'm thrilled to say that I was able to sit down with founder Ashley Eckstein at SDCC to chat about the brand, the fans, and her latest project.
Her Universe has become a serious presence at San Diego Comic-Con, this year hosting the second annual Her Universe Fashion Show for an audience of 1500! The show does more than just debut the latest designs, and was created to "shine a spotlight on fangirls", along with a competition for twenty five designers of geek couture to win the chance to design a line for Her Universe. The brand also made appearances on panels, sponsored the wonderful Fashionably Nerdy cocktail mixer, and held a special screening of Studio Ghibli's "Spirited Away", as well as having a boutique on the convention floor.
Talking to Ashley, it's clear how passionate she is about Star Wars, geek culture, and making fandoms accessible for women.
From the beginning, more important than the merchandise was actually the mission to start a community for fangirls. I felt like I had no choice but to start Her Universe, because I read all the stories about girls being bullied for liking the genre, and they were too shy, to embarrassed, ashamed, and didn't want to speak up and say they loved these properties. I felt like, somebody needs to create a safe environment and a positive environment for fangirls to step into the spotlight and let their voices be heard.
She's also excited about the sheer number of new female characters in superhero and geek TV and movies, and is excited to start designing clothing around them. While Ashley couldn't tell me exactly which new licenses we will be seeing in future, (she didn't want to jinx it!), there are lots of confirmed new lines to look forward to.
We have lots of Ant Man designs coming soon, and definitely more Guardians [of the Galaxy]. I'm excited to design for more of the female characters; Captain Marvel, Spiderwoman, and hopefully we can do Scarlett Witch, there are always so many restrictions around different characters. But we have the rights to several strong female characters.
We'll also be getting a lot more Dr Who designs, some entirely new designs (and retailers) in 2016, and of course, more Star Wars!
Her Universe wouldn't be possible without Star Wars! You can expect a lot more Star Wars fashion in the fall, we already have Episode VII designs in production now.
Of course, a big part of the Her Universe fashion show was about debuting some of the new designs that have just arrived in store, and we got a little sneak peek of the latest ranges. My personal favorite? The new "everyday cosplay" Star Trek dress and co-ordinating Picard-igan. (Insert groans here.)
The other focus of the show was the fashion competition, and an incredible new project that Ashley is launching, and that will move Her Universe from just fashion into entertainment, something she is incredibly excited about!
The new project is a TV show, in association with Blondie Girl Productions (Young and Hungry, Inner Circle, Clipped), which will follow the designers in the running to win next year's Geek Couture competition at SDCC 2016. The series will showcase the designers from when they are chosen to compete, through the design process, and all the way to the 3rd annual Her Universe Fashion Show where the winner is announced.
I also spoke to Jennifer Tisdale of Blondie Girl Productions, who is thrilled to be a part of the changing landscape of female fandoms, and who is especially excited to be such a positive role model for the littlest members of geekdom.
Our focus is to create great content for young girls. Being young and being blonde, we often get underestimated in this industry, and the poster girl for Blondie Girls is one who defies expectation; the self rescuing princess.
There's no doubt that this new show is just the next step in the expanding world that is Her Universe, and we'll have plenty more to look forward to from one of my favorite companies for geek girls. Ashley is also excited for the future, and rightfully proud of the amazing community she leads.
It's overwhelming, it's humbling, it's incredibly exciting!