Ashley Eckstein gives us the details on Her Universe Fashion Show’s triumphant comeback

Ashley Eckstein wears Ahsoka Tano collection designed by her fashion brand Her Universe. Photo credit: Her Universe.
Ashley Eckstein wears Ahsoka Tano collection designed by her fashion brand Her Universe. Photo credit: Her Universe. /

There’s some fashionable fun in store this week as a beloved Comic-Con staple is finally making a comeback: the Her Universe Fashion Show. Hosted by Her Universe’s founder and Ahsoka Tano voice actress Ashley Eckstein, this year’s fashion show comes with a twist. Since San Diego Comic-Con is going virtual for 2021, so is the Her Universe Fashion Show!

The fashion show will be live-streamed on Friday, July 23 at 8 p.m. ET, and there will be plenty of surprises in store as the designers show off their creations and compete to be the winner.

To discuss the details about this year’s show, Dork Side of the Force caught up with Eckstein this week via Zoom. Read on below the video to discover what fans can look forward to during this year’s virtual show!

Her Universe Fashion Show returns

My first time going to San Diego Comic-Con, I didn’t quite know how much of a huge deal the Her Universe Fashion Show was. This was 2018, and I remember seeing the lobby of the hotel where the show took place lavishly adorned in some of Her Universe’s most fashionable fandom designs. The large ballroom for the fashion show itself was packed, so a friend and I joined countless others outside the room as we watched the fashion show play out on televisions around us. It was exciting just being outside of the room where it happened.

Needless to say, if that’s the kind of excitement Her Universe can pull during an in-person convention, it should be no issue pulling off the whole thing virtually. Still, it’s almost a miracle that the show came back at all this year. Because if it weren’t for the past fashion show designers, 2019 may have marked the end of the fashion show as we knew it.

“I think we all found ourselves questioning what was really important and what wasn’t,” Eckstein says about the cancelation of 2020’s show. “And I thought, ‘Well, we’ve had a nice run. Maybe the show will just go to the wayside and nobody will really care.'”

Of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Eckstein continues: “I got a surprise package on my doorstep one day. And it was a unity quilt that had been put together by most of the designers over the past six years. And each designer made a square for a quilt that was inspired by their couture design from the show. And they sewed it together to make one quilt. And it was the most beautiful gift I’ve ever received in my entire life. I was just sobbing– literally sobbing like happy tears.”

That act of kindness motivated Eckstein to get back to her team and find a way to pull off the fashion show virtually this year. And, as they say, the rest is history. Though there’s a downside in not being able to see all the wonderful creations in person this year, Eckstein did note an even better upside — a virtual show means nearly any designer can enter the competition (since they don’t have to travel to San Diego) and anyone can watch.

The best part is that now, more people will get to choose the audience winner from the comfort of their own homes. That is, the first winner will be selected by the panel of judges. But the second winner will be chosen by you, the fans. After the show ends on Friday night, voting for the audience winner will open up until 11:59 p.m. PT on Sunday. Then, the following Wednesday, the winner will be announced.

Eckstein’s special look(s)

If you’re familiar with past Her Universe Fashion Shows, you’ll know Eckstein is known to debut a special look or two when she hits the runway to host the show.

In 2019, for example, she rocked this amazing She-Ra inspired gown:

But don’t be mistaken! Just because this year’s show is virtual, it doesn’t mean Eckstein doesn’t have a few fashionable tricks up her sleeve. We can say that one of the looks is inspired by none other than Ahsoka Tano, and it’s once again designed by Andrew MacLaine, who has designed her looks for the past six shows.

This look, in particular, is quite personal for her, especially since there’s one Ahsoka quote that seems to really resonate with her after all that’s happened since last year.

“My favorite Ahsoka quote from Star Wars Rebels is where she says, ‘This is a new day, a new beginning,'” Eckstein explains. “And, you know, I think this is something we’re all going to be able to relate to, I think, coming out of the pandemic in the past year and a half. This quote will resonate with everyone. I think this is truly a new day and a new beginning for all of us.”

As for her second look of the evening, that one will simply have to remain a mystery. And you’ll certainly want to tune in to see what other stunning design she pulls off for the show.

Building a community

As you watch the show this weekend, you’ll notice this year’s theme is a sweet one: community. Already, the theme kicked off way before the show ever began when the wonderful quilt was gifted to Eckstein. And if it wasn’t for the community, this year’s show likely would have never happened in the first place. So without a doubt, making the 2021 theme be “community” was a no-brainer to her.

She explains: “From day one, I’ve had a very, very strict rule where I’ve said Her Universe must always be two parts. It’s a merchandise line and a fashion and lifestyle brand. But more importantly, Her Universe is a community.”

For Eckstein, it doesn’t matter if you’ve purchased anything from Her Universe or not. Above anything else, what matters is that “you come and you join the conversation, and that you feel that you can be a part of the Her Universe community and feel supported and celebrated.”

“That’s what Her Universe is all about to me,” she says. “And so, especially coming out of this past year and a half that we’ve experienced, I think we need community now more than ever.”

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Be sure to tune into the Her Universe Fashion Show, which will stream live on Friday, July 23 at 8 p.m. ET.