The Best Designs from the ‘Her Universe Fashion Show,’ Which Returned To SDCC!

By Katie Kawamoto


Nerd Couture — these words may not mean much to some but to others these two words have become a staple describing upscale fashion inspired by nerd culture, especially by the powerhouse Her Universe, a clothing brand created by actress Ashley Eckstein (Voice of Ahsoka Tano in the animated CLONE WARS series), which has been making nerd-inspired fashion for many years. 

For eight years running, Her Universe, along with Hot Topic, has hosted a fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con, showcasing the best of nerd couture. It is always in full attendance and even has overflow screens for others to watch who can’t make it into the ballroom. Although last year was entirely virtual because of the pandemic, this year it returned back to the Con in person! 

This year’s event was a welcome return to Thursday night programming, taking place at the Manchester Grand Hyatt’s Grand Ballroom. The Her Universe Fashion Year exemplifies high fashion with a geeky twist.  Each year, contestants submit high fashion renderings to the competition in hopes of seeing their garment walk the runway at one of the biggest nerd events of the season! 

What else could be better than a Fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con after all? Winners of the show also get the opportunity to design an exclusive line for Hot Topic and be judges for the next year’s show. The theme for this year’s line was the upcoming Marvel Film, THE MARVELS. Twenty-six finalists were accepted into the show, in what was one of the most diverse and breathtaking events of the season. Designers submitted looks inspired by a broad range of fandoms, which are often pulled from films but this year even included a look inspired by the K-Pop group, BTS.

Nina West and Ashley Eckstein Shine (Literally) as Co-Hosts

This year’s show was hosted, per usual, by Ashley Eckstein, but this year Ashley was joined by personality and former Ru Paul contestant Nina West.  Each year the audience sits in wait to see what Ashley will be wearing.  This year she again wowed when she came out wearing an Alice in Wonderland themed blue dress with a cage around it.  It was designed by the 2014 Her Universe Fashion Show winner, Andrew Maclaine. Nina West, who came out before Ashley also donned an Alice theme with a very sparkly Glinda-inspired look.  Although the main purpose is to showcase the custom looks from the chosen designers, sprinkled throughout was plenty of comedy, mostly due to Nina West.  West was a delightful addition to the show with her humor and elegance.

Her Universe Showcases New Collections for Star Wars, Marvel Studio Ghibli and More

Before the main designs of the evening graced the runway, guests first got to see some of the recently released or upcoming Her Universe collections walk the runway.   First up we got to see models wearing the newest Marvel and Star Wars collections that could be purchased at the convention at either of the booths that Her Universe Had.  Ashley also announced that there would be a Studio Ghibli inspired line released and a Pop-Up in Tokyo Japan as part of the Harajuku Collective.  They also had models showcase the looks that will be available August 10th, as well as at the convention and online.


On With The Glow!

Finalists spent months designing and constructing! Due to the couture nature of the show, these looks contain a ton of details, and techniques that make for a long construction process.  Many contained very intricate bead work, embroidery, quilting, and of course, hours and hours of construction time. One of the garments even contained hand drawn structures to recreate the world of the Lord of The Rings. Many of these designers made their own textiles and prints as well as handbags and painted shoes. Before each set of designs, there were introduction videos about their piece and the process behind it.

To the casual attendee, this added unnecessary length to the show, but I found it very informative and thoughtful. It’s one thing to see these beautiful pieces walk the runway, but the audience can’t always see all that goes into the process so this was helpful, especially considering that there is an audience winner chosen. 

Upon entry guests in attendance were given a ballot to vote for their favorite look, which also contained a swag bag full of coupons from Her Universe, Hot Topic, and Lug, who also provided a free luggage tag to all who attended. There were five groups of looks, each showcasing five or six designers. They were grouped into themes. Here are some of those looks.  


And the Winners Were…

The audience winner of the evening went to Michael Burson for his Doctor Strange, McQueen, Met Gala inspired suit and cape with an inside that took us to an illusion of the mirror dimension.

















The judges winner went to Cindy Guillermo Heselton who created a look titled “Caged,” a “Turning Red” inspired look. It was an illustration of all things that the Fashion Show encompases—Geek Fashion without looking like a costume, high technique and high-fashion. Although not in everyone’s taste, I do agree it deserved to win for its ability to illustrate what high fashion is all about. It also had a clear story and passion behind it.



















In Closing…

This year’s show was another one for the books, and I cannot wait to see what the next year has in store.  Stay tuned for the upcoming collection designed by this year’s winners, which will be sold at Hot Topic upon release. Most likely next year.  You can also check out all of Her Universe’s collections here and at the Tokyo pop-up later this year and if you find yourself in San Diego next July, maybe consider trying to go to the always overflowing show.

As for convention and pop culture news, don’t forget to check out or The Con Guy podcast for your nerdy needs!





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