Catwalk On Infinite Earths: Her Universe Is Great, But Not The Beginning

Being a girl who loves to sport her fandom is difficult sometimes, in that for a long time, few companies were catering to female fans.  Items such as t-shirts were almost exclusively only available in men’s sizes; the same applied to jackets, sweatshirts, baseball caps, pajamas, and almost everything else that was fandom-relation fashion.

But then in 2010 actress Ashley Eckstein decided to start a company that catered solely to the female geek fan and called it “Her Universe“.  One of their first licenses was from Universal, giving them a selection of Battlestar Galactica apparel when no one else did.  Carrying things like tank tops featuring Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, a “so say we all” hoodie, and a special magnetic friendship necklace in the shape of a BSG tattoo: it was everything fangirls had been looking for in fandom garments.  I still wear everything I bought from that first line.

Eckstein took her ideas a step further in the following years, starting a fashion show at the San Diego Comic Con open to all designers from across the globe.  At the same time, this is also where things start to get a bit convoluted, because Ashley claims to be the first to have hosted such an event.  No really, in a video released today to help get the word out about the Her Universe line from last year’s SDCC winners, Ashley says they were the “first geek couture fashion show”, which just isn’t the case.

Here’s the video –

Last year, Her Universe Fashion Show partnered with new streaming network “Comic-Con HQ” to produce a web series about the designers and their process.  Think of it like Project Runway but for fandom-related garments. Which that CCHQ series was indeed the first of it’s kind that focused on these designers.  That’s true, but the claim that Her Universe originated the idea of a geek fashion show doesn’t hold up.

As early as 2007 at SiliCon, Douggary Grant was producing a geek fashion show in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is a full three years before Her Universe was formed. Then fast-forwarding to 2013 at San Jose California’s BigWow! Comic Fest (which is now Silicon Valley Comic Con), there was a large scale fashion show produced and conceived by Grant and Lauren Matesic of Castle Corsetry. Here’s a video of that earlier incarnation:

The fashion show was an immediate success, with 15 designers and over 50 models walking the runway during the weekend. Outlets from across the country covered the show, photos of the designs made the internet rounds, and pretty soon, “Geek Fashion Show” became a convention regular.  Since that early time the two heads of that original fashion show have continued in their own directions to become “Geek Fashion Show” and “Le Geek So Chic“.  However they both can claim to have brought geek fashion to the fore prior to Her Universe having latched onto the idea.

This is nothing against Ashley herself or her fabulous company and it’s support of geek fashion designers, but it’s unfair to the originators who did start the Geek Fashion Show movement for her to continue to claim it was ‘her idea’.

If you know of any other American Geek Fashion Shows (couture fashion has long been an aspect of Japanese events ) that began before she took to the scene in 2013 (I’m sure there’s a few out there) please let us know in the comments!

About Mary Anne Butler

Bleeding Cool News Editor Mary Anne Butler (Mab, for short) has been part of the fast-paced world of journalism since she was 15, getting her start in album reviews and live concert coverage for a nationally published (print) music magazine. She eventually transitioned to online media, writing for such sites as UGO/IGN, ComicsOnline, Geek Magazine, Ace of Geeks, Aggressive Comix (where she is still Editor-in-Chief), and most recently Bleeding Cool.



Over the past 10 years, she’s built a presence at conventions across the globe as a cosplayer (occasionally), photographer (constantly), panelist and moderator (mostly), and reporter (always). 



Interviews, reviews, observations, breaking news, and objective reporting are the name of the game for the founder of Harkonnen Knife Fight, a Dune-themed band with an international presence. 



Though she be but little, she is fierce. #MabTheProfessional

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