It’s Her Universe: How Ashley Eckstein Changed Geek Fashion
By Karis Fields
Photo: Star Wars – Source
You may recognize Ashley Eckstein for her voice acting role as Ashoka Tano in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. What you may not know about Ashley, however, is that she is the sole founder of popular fan-fashion company Her Universe. Although the company was first founded twelve years ago, its story is still relevant today, and the story of Her Universe isn’t shared enough with the world.
The idea for Her Universe came about shortly after Eckstein realized the lack of fashionable fandom clothing for women when she first started attending comic-cons as a celebrity guest for her iconic Star Wars role. When looking for fan merchandise aimed towards women, she’d always end up finding herself purchasing something from the men’s section due to its more appealing designs and better quality.
So, Eckstein took action. However, her first attempts were unsuccessful. Granted, Her Universe hadn’t been fully created yet or even conceptualized. Two times Eckstein approached Lucasfilm, the production company behind Star Wars films and television shows, with the request to make merchandise to sell to female fans. And two times Eckstein was turned down.
Eckstein was stuck after this. She still wanted to create fashionable clothing for female fangirls, but she didn’t have anyone to back her up. Then, she thought of what Ashoka would do. Ashoka herself broke the glass ceiling in Star Wars, being the first leading female Jedi in the franchise. A lot of female Star Wars fans have actually cited the character of Ashoka as being the reason they got into the space epic in the first place. Many women were, and still are, inspired by Ashoka Tano. Eckstein herself is one of them. If Ashoka were to be in the situation Eckstein was in, she wouldn’t back down. She’d stand up for herself and others like her. And that’s what she did.
Thus, Her Universe was born. And, when Eckstein approached Lucasfilm for the third time, they agreed to let her create merchandise for the female demographic. Her Universe would eventually create female fan merchandise for over thirty intellectual property licenses with sizes that range from XS to 5X.
Her Universe has been the standalone fangirl fashion brand since its humble beginnings in 2010, growing more and more each day. As a fangirl myself, this brand is absolutely huge for me, especially as a plus-sized woman as well. Although, something that slightly bothers me is the fact that Her Universe is the only brand of its kind. Is this because of the presence of toxic masculinity and gatekeeping in some fandom culture? Or, could this be because Her Universe is already a fangirl fashion empire and people don’t think another should be created? I personally think that it would be cool to have more brands like Her Universe.
Whatever the case may be, there’s no denying that Ashley Eckstein changed the fashion and fandom industry in remarkable ways.