Ahsoka Tano Actress Ashley Eckstein Interview On Bringing Her Universe Fashion Show Back To SDCC (Exclusive)

Star Wars icon Ashley Eckstein talks to us about the Her Universe Fashion Show's return to the San Diego Comic-Con, teasing the surprises attendees can expect and why it's become so important to her...

Interviews Opinion

Prior to the pandemic putting the world on hold, the Her Universe Fashion Show had become one of the most must-see events at the San Diego Comic-Con. The event went virtual last year, but will finally return to being an in-person event when it takes place on Thursday, July 21 at 6pm PT in the Harbor Ballroom of the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel. 

26 designers will compete with their original geek couture designs to win the ultimate prize - the opportunity to design a collection with Her Universe for Hot Topic. 

Hosted by actress, entrepreneur, and best-selling author Ashley Eckstein (the voice of Ahsoka Tano in the Star Wars franchise), the theme for this year’s show is "Coming Home," and we recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ashley to discuss the event. 

Sharing her excitement to bring fans back to the Fashion Show, Ashley teases some big surprises for those who check the show out, explains how fans at home can get involved, and explains what makes it such a great platform to spread the messages that are important to her. The Clone Wars icon also reveals her future hopes for the Her Universe brand. 

Check out our chat with Ashley below, and stay tuned to hear more from her on playing Ahsoka and the upcoming Tales of the Jedi series that will explore the character's origin story.
 

Haunted-Mansion


To start with, how does it feel to finally be able to return to San Diego and hold the Her Universe fashion show in person at Comic-Con?

We are so beyond excited. Actually, it’s very apparent in the theme of our show this year. The theme of this show is ‘Coming Home,’ and that’s two parts. As a fandom, I feel like San Diego Comic-Con is home. It’s the Comic-Con of all Comic-Cons and the Mecca of all conventions. As a fan, when you’re there, you just feel like you’re at home. Also, it’s home for our show. The Her Universe fashion show debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2014, and it’s been our home ever since. I’m thrilled. The excitement is just next level and I can’t wait to be back in person. 

With Marvel Studios also returning alongside Warner Bros. and various other big studios, does the fact this Comic-Con feels like the Comic-Con of old just increase your excitement to see fans again? 

Absolutely. I have no doubt it’s going to feel like Comic-Con as we once knew it. I’ve had the privilege of attending conventions now for about a year and a half. It’s unreal. The energy at these conventions…it’s electric. I don’t know how else to explain it. People are ready to get out and ready to connect in person again. It’s been such a blessing to connect virtually, and it’s really been our lifeline during a time when we’ve felt so isolated. Especially for our mental health; everyone understands that, for our physical health, we needed to be safe and take certain measures. For our mental health, connection is so important. And physical connection, so hugs and handshakes and high fives and knuckle knocks…even just sitting next to someone and hearing applause. Literally, being in a room and hearing applause, something as simple as that because you realise on Zoom, you miss the applause. You miss the cheers. Hearing everyone in a room cheering is so important, so being back in person and attending these conventions together. All of a sudden, the things we took for granted before, we’re not taking for granted. They’re so special and you realise that, even for our mental health, it’s so important. 

I know from the last time we spoke that you do like to surprise fans who attend the fashion show, so is there anything you can tease about what they can look forward to this year?

Well, one thing I can definitely share is that I’m going to have a special co-host this year. My co-host is going to be the icon and internationally renowned drag queen, Nina West. Nina became a very, very good friend of mine during the pandemic. We actually met virtually and then we teamed up to be advocates and superheroes of kindness for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and their On Our Sleeves movement for children's mental health. Because of that, we were able to finally meet in person and we just became the fastest and best of friends. So, we’ve really had the privilege of getting to know each other over the past two and half years, and so I’m just honoured to be sharing the stage with Nina.

I can promise you it’s going to be so much fun. We always keep my looks a surprise. I can say that Nina and I are going to have coordinating looks this year and we’re going to have a couple of them. I’m very, very excited about that and the designers, once again, are going to have a variety of looks inspired by so many different fandoms. Our one rule is that their looks must be inspired by something that’s celebrated at Comic-Con. That’s so broad and you’re going to see that in the designs. I’m excited. There’s a lot of fun, a lot of surprises, and again, sticking with the theme, I promise the show is also going to be good for your mental health. You’re going to laugh, cheer, jump out of your seat, dance, and you’re just going to leave with so much joy. I can’t wait! 

There’s been so much excitement since you announced the show’s Comic-Con return, but what has it meant to see that positive reaction and, of course, to see the submissions start rolling in?

It’s been a dream. I think, in many ways, we all questioned whether the life we once knew would come back. It almost felt like a dream. ‘Is it gone? Are we going to get back to it?’ We all had hoped we might get back to it, but being so isolated, there was so much doubt and so much questioning. For me to be back in this place where we get to plan, do an in-person fashion show again, and go to Comic-Con, it really is a dream come true. It’s one that I will not take for granted. 
 


I know you’ve always been very focused on spreading messages about inclusivity, empowerment, and mental health awareness, but for you, what is it about this fashion show that makes it such a great platform to use for that? 

From day one with Her Universe, my mission was to create a community that was a safe space where fans could be themselves and step into the spotlight and be celebrated, uplifted, empowered, and applauded for it. That is still our mission. Even though our name is Her Universe, our mission has always been to say, ‘This world that we love…this universe that we love…is for everyone. No matter how you identify, it’s for everyone.’ That is still the mission of our fashion show. It’s a safe space for everyone so that’s what you can expect when you step foot into the ballroom to watch our show. It’s the same for anyone watching at home. Anyone is welcome. It’s a positive, welcoming, empowering space, and I can’t wait to just feel that electricity and positivity again. I could ramble and go on and on, but that has been our goal from day one and it continues to be. 

For those of us who, sadly, won’t be able to make it to San Diego, is there anything you can say about plans to maybe live stream or share the show once it takes place?

There will be a tonne of social coverage during the show, so I encourage fans to follow Her Universe and Hot Topic. We will also be sharing the show in its entirety on YouTube shortly after it ends. The fans will be able to watch it. Just stay tuned and follow those accounts for more details! 

As Her Universe continues to expand both as a brand and through this fashion show, what are some of your future hopes for it moving forward?

As with everything, it continues to evolve. What some people might not know is that I sold Her Universe to Hot Topic at the end of 2016. Her Universe is now part of the Hot Topic family of brands, and that was very exciting for me. Her Universe was growing so fast, it really needed bigger parents. I truly don’t believe it would still exist today had I not done that because it really needed a bigger company to help it grow. I’m obviously still involved and will always treat Her Universe as though it’s my baby, but I also recognise that everyone’s baby has to go off to college and grow up [Laughs]. I’m so excited to see what’s ahead and what it will continue to do. It’s my hope that, going back to the beginning, Her Universe will always remain that community and safe space for everyone to step into the spotlight and be celebrated. That’s my wish, and I hope it will continue. 

ALSO READ: Ashley Eckstein Teases Tales Of The Jedi And Sharing Ahsoka Tano Role With Rosario Dawson 
ALSO READ: The Clone Wars Star Ashley Eckstein Reacts To Renewed Interest And Fandom For Ahsoka Tano

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