EXCLUSIVE: Ashley Eckstein on the geek girl fashion show she's launching at San Diego Comic-Con

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Mar 18, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

Ashley Eckstein has never rested on her laurels, whether as the voice actress of Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Ahsoka Tano or as the creator of Her Universe, the one-stop shop for geek girl fashion. In fact, with the recent announcement of her geek couture fashion show/competition at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), it's impossible to say whether Eckstein rests at all.

Eckstein, who we recently cited as one of the trailblazing women of sci-fi, spoke to us about her upcoming competition for fashion based on the wonderful world of sci-fi, and why she wants you to apply.

(This means you need to submit your design to Her Universe by April 4. Remember, Eckstein will be judging you.)

What inspired you to create this fashion show?

I decided to start this fashion show after a panel that we did for Her Universe at SDCC two years ago, called "Are you a geek girl trendsetter?" We asked girls to show to us their own custom-made designs. It was a competition as well, and we had some winners. It was a chance for girls to get feedback from professional buyers and designers in the fashion industry.

As a fashion brand, I noticed that girls were showing up to conventions in less cosplay and more in "costume-inspired" fashion. It's what I like to call "everyday cosplay," everyday designs that you can wear to the office, to school, on a date, out to the movies. It's not a costume. It's fashion.

The girls were using the halls of SDCC as their runway. Because of the success of the panel, I want to give these girls an actual runway to walk on. 

Rodarte recently had a Star Wars-inspired fashion at New York fashion week. Do you think the time has come for geek girls to find their voice in the fashion world?

Why I think the time is right in this community is because the girls are already doing it. I have to say the fans dictate what they want to see, and the fans have been saying for quite some time now as they walk the halls in SDCC in their own homemade fashion that they want more of this. 

But I was thrilled to see the Rodarte show at New York Fashion Week, and also the Preen show at London Fashion Week, because anything that brings awareness to geek couture is a good thing. Four years ago, when I launched Her Universe, it was hard to convince people that fan girls should get their own geeky T-shirts. I was told there wasn't a place for a company like mine, that women should just be happy buying a men's shirt.

It's a fact that close to half of all sci-fi and fantasy fans are women and around 80 percent of consumer purchasing decisions are made by women: If you make stuff specifically for women, we're going to buy it. 

What do the winners receive?

Hot Topic, a clothing store and one of the leaders in pop culture merchandise, loved the idea [of a geek girl fashion competition]. Hot Topic said, you know what? We're going to provide something extra special for these girls. The winning designers will get to design a collection with you, and we'll sell it in stores.

What kinds of clothes are you looking for?

We want what we're calling geek couture; as long as it's celebrated at SDCC, then anything goes. We are trying to make this feel like a fashion show out of New York fashion week, L.A. fashion week. And with any fashion show, some of the pieces are ready to wear, and some are haute couture -- high-end couture pieces you're not going to find on the street.

You can submit up to three designs, but if you're chosen, we're only going to choose one.

This is important: The designs should be inspired. I encourage fans to dive into this genre, for example, maybe a Battlestar Galactica dress with a red spine … and actually make it glow.

Do you have to model your own clothing on the runway?

You can actually model your own design, or you can provide your own model. As with any design, the model should definitely be around for the fit process. The dress I'm modeling in the press release, I went to at least four fittings for that.

It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for me to thread one. What if I have an idea, but no sewing skills?

Find somebody who knows how to sew. The nice thing about this community is everyone works together, and it's a really friendly community. Reach out and find a friend who's a seamstress. Work on it together. I didn't go to school for fashion design. I've been learning on the job. But it was always a hobby of mine. I designed my first dress with my mom when I was 10 years old. If you don't know how to sew, please don't let that stop you.

Anything you'd like to say to the readers of Blastr?

The "Imagine greater" tagline has always inspired me. It's something I think of quite often. Because when I have an idea, I do think of "imagine greater," and I try to take it up a notch. Kind of like this fashion show: I did this as a 45-minute panel two years ago. And I had to think, "Imagine greater."

For more details about the competition, see the video press release, which was produced by Nerdist Industries, below: