It seems like only yesterday that Ashley Eckstein announced that Her Universe would be joining the Hot Topic family of brands and that the web store would be temporarily closed for business, over the busy holiday season, no less.
But after months of hard work behind the scenes, Her Universe is finally back online and open for business; you can read Ashley’s letter here. And, boy, does the HU team have some amazing plans in store for 2017!
Shortly after the new site went online, Ashley Eckstein and her team took to Facebook Live to celebrate the relaunch of the immensely popular fangirl fashion company, answer questions from the fans, and give fans a sneak peek of what’s to come.
You can watch the live stream in its entirety over on Facebook or on YouTube but here’s a quick rundown of some of the hot topics of the event:
Ahsoka Lives…on Her Universe
I may be a little biased (like Ashley) but let’s start with the most important news for Ahsoka fans: Her Universe is designing an Ahsoka Tano fashion collection!
There are no details as yet as to what clothing items or accessories will be included in this collection but Ashley told fans that she wants Her Universe to be “the home of your Ahsoka fashion”. So stayed tuned for further announcements later this year!
Male fans will also be pleased to know that Her Universe has secured the rights to make Ahsoka Tano merchandise for men and that the first product in the company’s new range of fanboy fashion will be a T-shirt featuring an exclusive design by Dave Filoni.
This HU exclusive will be on sale at Star Wars Celebration Orlando this April.
For those who can’t wait until the new Ahsoka collection comes out, you can now buy a soft sweatshirt (adults) or a long-sleeved raglan shirt (kids) featuring the same “Winter Ahsoka” design that was used for Her Universe’s Holiday 2016 collectible pin.
And, finally, when asked about Ahsoka Tano’s fate, Ashley joked that Dave Filoni was always watching (“like Big Brother”) and that there’s nothing she can say about her future. She did remind fans of what Filoni had told her at Star Wars Celebration Europe: that Ahsoka *will* be back on Star Wars Rebels some day but in what form that might be, she doesn’t know.
The New Website
Ashley and the crew talked a little about Her Universe’s snazzy new website, which includes a range of new features – such as the #FlauntYourWorld photo stream – and a much more user-friendly interface.
Ashley explained that the new site had been built from scratch and that Her Universe is much more than just a web store; it’s also a community. “Her Universe – to me – is a place”, she told fans. “It is a purple planet that is a community, a safe place for fans to step into the spotlight and be celebrated and heard”.
Be warned that the site is still being worked on and that there were still some minor issues getting the site to work properly on the Safari browser at the time of writing.
Fangirls of the Day
This is a topic I plan to delve into in greater depth in a future article but Her Universe has relaunched their Fangirl of the Day feature and are calling on fangirls of all ages to submit their photos and information via the site.
“We don’t care how old you are. If you’re a fangirl, we want to feature you”, Ashley implored. “We’re starting with girls that we work with, literally girls that are on the HU team or at Hot Topic. We’re so proud to feature everyone because the thing that makes HU different, HT different, Box Lunch different, is that we’re all fans. We geek out just like the rest of you. It is seriously a passion for all of us”.
“We didn’t get a full transfer of our database so we need to start over. We need enough girls to feature every single day. That is our goal. 365, every single day. But the cool thing is Fangirls of the Day are not only going to be featured on the website, they’re not only going to be featured on social media, they’re not only going to be featured on the blog, but they’re also going to be featured once a week in an email. We’re going to do a weekly round-up email to everybody, so it’s going to be a really big deal to be Fangirl of the Day and we want to feature *you*”.
“So please go submit yourself, or somebody you know, on our website. We need LOTS of fangirls so please, please, please go do that. I think it’s really important, especially for the younger fangirls, to see that they’re not alone and that there’s literally an army of us out there”.
Fashion for Fanboys
Her Universe has heeded the countless calls for men’s clothing and will be “bringing the fashion element to the fanboys” later this year.
The men’s fashion range will be called Our Universe and not His Universe as originally intended. The new, more inclusive name was proposed by Cat Carson (Senior VP at Her Universe) and, as Ashley explained, it was soon adopted because “that’s been the company’s message from day one – not just for girls, not just for guys”.
Ashley did warn male customers that the men’s fashion range won’t be ready until Holiday 2017 due to the time it takes to design, produce, and get approval for licensed merchandise, but she reminded them that they will at least be able to purchase the aforementioned exclusive Ahsoka Tano T-shirt at Celebration Orlando in just a few months’ time.
Her Universe Goes International (Sort Of)
Her Universe has started shipping internationally but don’t get too excited just yet. It comes with a couple of caveats.
Due to complex licensing laws, HU are currently only able to ship items from their Studio Ghibli collection internationally, though HU hopes to have other items available for purchase via EMP Merchandising in the near future.
Fans living outside North America have been begging for Her Universe merchandise since day one but, as Ashley explained, there are some legal and contractual hurdles that need to be overcome in order to meet the demands of their international fanbase.
“We would LOVE to ship all of our merchandise internationally. It’s been a dream of mine and one that I will continue to fight for. However, we get licenses from the studios and they are restricted to your territories, so, unfortunately for certain licenses, we can only ship them in America or we can only ship them to America and Canada. Legally, we’re just not allowed per our contracts to ship to certain countries. It’s not that we don’t want to; it’s just that we’re not allowed”.
On the plus side, Her Universe has made some progress on the EMP front. “EMP is starting to order some of our stuff”, Ashley clarified, “It’s currently not available… but it will be soon. We will make an announcement when HU items [become] available through EMP. So stay tuned”.
New Collections & Merch for 2017
Visitors to the new site may have been a little disappointed that Her Universe hasn’t launched any major new collections so far. But don’t worry: it’s coming.
Ashley and the team couldn’t divulge too many details during the live stream but they reassured their fans that they have a lot of new merchandise heading our way this year. “It’s coming and, let me tell you, the stuff we’re doing for Fall and Holiday is awesome. So just know that we’re hard at work on a bunch of new stuff and you’re going to constantly see it throughout the year”.
In addition to the aforementioned Ahsoka and Our Universe collections, Her Universe will be releasing a Naboo collection (which will include a matching skirt and cardigan), a new range of active wear, a snazzy fashion collection designed by the winners of the 2016 Her Universe Fashion Show, and much, much more.
Her Universe will also have a presence at Star Wars Celebration Orlando this April. A selection of HU goods will be available in the official Celebration store, including some new designs to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars.
Star Wars Rebels fans who are attending the convention should be on the lookout for a Celebration exclusive Hera Syndulla tee. Her Universe recently consulted with voice actress Vanessa Marshall and she gave the team an awesome quote that will be incorporated into the design. The tee will initially be a Celebration exclusive but it may find its way into the Her Universe web store later this year.
A Tribute to Carrie Fisher
As all Star Wars fans know, the much-loved Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27th, leaving a Leia-shaped hole in our hearts. Ashley was visibly upset as she talked about Carrie’s passing but she shared a heart-warming account of the first time they had met in person.
She had been invited to take part in the “Stars of Star Wars” panel at the 2011 Dragon Con alongside Temuera Morisson (Jango Fett), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Carrie Fisher, and she recalled how nervous she had felt. She had told Carrie “I don’t think I should be here, I don’t think I should be on this panel”. To which the Star Wars veteran replied: “Of course you should be here. You are part of the Star Wars family. You belong up there with us”. Ashley said she’s never forgotten – and will never forget – how kind and welcoming Carrie had been to her that day.
Ashley also talked about the time Carrie had passed by the Her Universe booth (Carrie was a huge supporter of HU) and left a signed photo for them. The photo became their good luck charm and travelled with their booth throughout the year. “She is our princess. And we miss her dearly”.
Given Fisher’s fearless attitude towards life and her well-earned status as a feminist icon, Her Universe saw it fitting to pay tribute to the fandom’s princess with an empowering design, titled “The Self-Rescuing Princess”.
As Ashley pointed out, “You may have seen this design. We have it on kids shirts at Disney. But…Princess Leia is the original self-rescuing princess. She inspired us all, she blazed the trail for us”.
The T-shirt is pending approval but HU expect it to be available in junior and plus sizes and have stated that all proceeds will go to charity. Further details will be posted on the HU website in the coming days.
Her Universe Press
Last but not least, fans of Her Universe Press can rest easy: it *will* be back and Ashley is actively having meetings with potential publishing partners.
She apologized for the lack of new titles in recent months and assured authors that all the manuscripts that were submitted for consideration have been kept safe.
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