Friday, July 16, 2010

Star Wars and Her Universe Review

Star Wars wasn't a big thing for me growing up. My parents didn't watch much movies, and my brother and I didn't go to our first movie theatre until 1989. I knew some kids who liked Star Wars, notably the son of our babysitter, who used to watch The Empire Strikes back while we were there. I wasn't even in kindergarten yet, but I do vividly remember the Tauntaun scene, and his many action figures. But I knew of Star Wars. Many of the cartoons I watched as a kid would reference, or even parody Star Wars, such as Muppet Babies. By the time I was 8, I had a grasp on what Star Wars was about, without even watching the movies. I knew who Luke, Leia, Yoda and Vader were. I knew all the spoilers as well.

I was always a nerdy kid, absorbed in a world of Batman and cartoons, with no interest in being popular, clothes, sports and dating like the other girls in my class did, yet how I never was into Star Wars at this age is mind baffling. But, because I was a nerdy girl, by the time I started dating, every boyfriend I had loved Star Wars (except maybe one - the topic never came up). Most of them wanted to watch the movies with me, but only one actually succeeded.

I was going to get around to watching them. When the Prequels were announced, I decided I would watch the Star Wars in order, from Episode 1 to Episode 6. Now, this meant waiting a few years to watch the Original Star Wars, but I thought this was a good plan and I was in no rush.

Episode 1 came out, and my mom and I went to the theatre to see it. Going into the movie, I knew Anakin was going to be Darth Vader, but that was about it. After watching it, I didn't exactly hate it, as I hadn't seen the Originals. But for someone who knew very little about Star Wars, I didn't find the movie thrilling either. When Attack of the Clones came out, I sort of had lost interest in my project, and never went to see it.

Then Revenge of the Sith was coming out. I had to see it, as it was Anakin becoming Darth Vader. That had to be awesome. But it meant I would have to catch up on the story, and I would have to go back to my original plan. The Star Wars movies came out on DVD in its trilogy set, and I bought it after Christmas, vowing that my New Years Resolution would be to watch them in order like I had planned.

The guy I was dating showed great interest in my goal. He had Attack of the Clones on DVD, and he wanted to watch the entire trilogy with me but he didn't want to wait until after ROTS came out in May. So, we sat down and I got through AOTC, and then we watched the entire trilogy. When ROTS came out, we saw it in theatres. My Star Wars promise had been complete, although not in the order I had planned.

So do I like Star Wars? I did like the stories. I wasn't thrilled about Episode 1 and 2, but I did like Episode 3 despite its cheese. I really likes Vader's last line, even though MOST hate it. But from what I saw in the Original Star Wars, it was over the top, and his NOOOOOOO really did fit the series. Return of the Jedi was probably my favourite. I came out really liking Darth Vader, Han Solo (Mostly because of Harrison Ford. I was an Indiana Jones fan before I was a Star Wars one - go figure), and tauntauns. I wouldn't say I am a rabid fan. I don't plan on reading the Extended Universe books. I don't have many collectibles. All I have is a Han Solo action figure, until now.

I always wanted a Star Wars shirt. Not anything from the Prequels, which was what most places were selling at the time. But finding a Star Wars shirt for girls was impossible. The Star Wars store sold everything in Men's sizes, and I had already had to deal with this when I bought a Fox Mulder shirt, which was in Men Sizes, no Women, and was way too big. I happened to be in Zellers one day, and I found Star Wars shirts - for boys. I took a chance and bought the biggest size Boys shirt I could find - a size 6, with a cartoonish Darth Vader on it. It looked a lot like the Baby Tees that were and still are popular at the time. It's the shirt I am wearing with Vader at the top of this post. It's a cute shirt but oh man is it tight. Vader has to stretch across my bust, and because it's cut for little boys, it's not very long. My midriff and lower back gets exposed when I wear this, so I tend to throw a zip up top over it to keep my skin from showing.

The only Star Wars shirt I could find

Then one day, I read a post on Topless Robot about a new company called Her Universe, headed by actress Ashley Eckstein who voices the character Ahsoka Tano on the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. After becoming involved in Star Wars, she was disappointed about the lack of merchandise for women and girls who were fans of the series. Shirts were all sold in Men sizes, and lacked a lot of merchandise related to of some of the prominent female characters. She took it upon herself to begin a company to design and sell shirts strictly for female fans. There is some talks about the company branching into other series in Science Fiction, since there are a lot of Sci-Fi female fans, but Sci-Fi has always had a 'Boys Club' mentality to it. The website debuted in the middle of June, with 8 shirts that are made to fit the female form, with promises of more merchandise coming in July and in later months, including jewellery and maybe even light sabre lip gloss.

I followed the Facebook group, awaiting the arrival of these shirts. I hummed and hawed after a few days, debating on buying the shirts. I don't really like buying clothes online because sizes run different for every single company and make. I can fit smalls and mediums, depending on the style, the brand, the fit, etc. On the website, they give the size measurements of the chest width and t-shirt length, which is helpful but doesn't answer many questions. Do the sizes fit big? Are they snug? Is the material stretchy? Will it give over time? Will it shrink? Where would you take these measurements? Each shirt had different sizes too. A small in one shirt was a medium in another. The other thing was the prices. The prices of the shirts aren't bad, and they are a good quality shirt. The shirts ranged between $30 and $40, so I figured with shipping it was going to be $100, in USD.

I decided the best thing to do was to measure some shirts I already owned. Many of these t-shirts ranged from small to medium. The shirts on the website have a difference of one inch between a small and a medium in chest width. I wanted to order two shirts. One was a fitted tee and the other was a thermal hoodie. The small for the fitted tee was 16 inches in chest width, and the small for the thermal hoodie was 15 inches. I was getting a measurement of 15 inches on the t-shirts I had previously wore, and decided to go with two smalls.

When I placed my order, I got the choice of $8.00 shipping, or $50.00 shipping. I wasn't in a huge rush to wear the shirts, so I went with the cheaper price. I was sent an invoice to my email. The next day I decided to log onto the website to see if the shirts had been sent. They hadn't, but I noticed my invoice had went from $80 to $120! I had the email of my first invoice, so I took a screen shot of the email and the account invoice and emailed the company. I received an email the following week explaining there had been a glitch and all international shipping would be around $50 and not $8. I was then asked if I wanted to go ahead with the purchase, which I thought was very considerate of them. I decided why not? and confirmed the order. Because the shipping was $50, it came very fast - three days from my e-mail confirmation.

While I was waiting for my shirts, other women around North America were receiving their shirts, as the store had now been open for one week. The facebook page filled up with reviews and pictures of girls happily posing in their new shirts. But some of the reviews I read made me panic slightly. Some described the shirts as fitting rather snug, especially if you had a large chest, which I do. Others said some were a bit loose. Ashley, who runs the Facebook page, was very helpful with inquiries made on the page. I confessed on the page that I was a bit nervous about whether the shirts would fit or not, after reading the some reviews that said the sizes ran small. She asked which shirt I had ordered. I told her, and explained how I decided on the shirts, using measurements of my own. She said they probably would fit, but I could return them if they didn't. She also encouraged photos of the shirts and to tell her how I liked them when I got them. Ashley's dedication to her company and brand is very admirable. She blogs and asks for suggests. She tries to help customers with sizing questions. She comments on every photo, appreciates every purchase and gives the impression that she really loves what she is doing, and this personalization is how this company will succeed. Friday July 2nd, they arrived. Of course, I had to drive to Peterborough to get it, because the Fed Ex delivery guy didn't knock on my door. I didn't want to wait until Monday to get the package, because I wanted to know if they fitted right away, plus I wanted to wear one to a party that was going to have a lot of Star Wars fans there. I am a bit of a show off! Plus, I wanted to advertise the site, for a lot of girls I know like Star Wars. I had recommend Her Universe at least four times since it opened. On top of the shipping charges, I had to pay $35 in duty fees. Such is the life when you order online from the US!

Here are my reviews of the shirts purchased, and the company itself. I apologize for the photos. I think I look rather blagh in all of them. It isn't easy taking pictures of yourself!

Star Wars Burnout

I really liked the simplicity of this design, and the color. It is a soft fabric, but it stretches. It is a very form fitting tee though. The chest width for this shirt was 16 inches across the bust, so I figured it would be the looser fitting of the two shirts. When I put it on, I was worried that it would be too tight. It is a little tight across the chest, and makes it look huge. If I were to order a shirt in this style again, I would get it in a medium, mostly due to my bust size. As mentioned before, it is rather stretchy, so over time I think it'll stretch out. I wore it to a party and everyone loved it. Ashley said that this shirt may look like it has shrunk after being in the dryer, but it will stretch back out. To be safe, I'm going to hand wash this article and hang it to dry. The only other complaint I have about this shirt (and both of these things are rather minor, the shirt does fit, albeit snugly, a lot of shirts fit that way) is the burn out lettering. The only problem with it, is that it is very sheer. You can see a bra right under it, so you need to wear a dark coloured bra, or one that matches the colour of the shirt. The one I wore in the picture above was a dark grey, but I wore a navy blue one to the party. Wearing a lighter bra really brings attention to it, while a darker one blends in a bit better. Because this material is so thin, it should be treated carefully.
Star Wars Burnout - $30 USD from Her

Empire Strikes Back Thermal Hoodie

This is the shirt I really wanted when Her Universe first opened its doors. Vader is just a great, classic character. This design is perfect. There are silver foil highlights in his helmet, and in the stars surrounding him. I order this hoodie in size small, which had a chest measurement of 15 inches. Another issue with ordering bigger sizes is that bigger sizes usually mean they are longer. I have a short torso, and I'm a short person, so I like my shirts preferably not down to my butt. This shirt is a good length, as it isn't too long to make me look like I'm wearing a dress, but it's also long enough that you can move around without the shirt raising up and giving everyone a peek of your midriff or lower back. This shirt despite being smaller in chest width, fits a bit looser than the Burn Out Tee. The material isn't too thick for being a thermal, and it is very comfortable. The material is kind of serrated, which I am guessing is part of the thermal design. It's also softer than I expected. The hoodie is the same thickness of the rest of the shirt, which I really like. I like when hoods lay flat against your back, not bunch up against your hair. It makes putting on a coat in the winter a lot easier when you don't have to move the hood around so much. The minor problem I have with this shirt is the arm length of the shirt. This is the small size, and I'm glad I didn't order it any bigger, as the sleeves bunch slightly at the wrist which you can see in this picture. I think if I got the medium, this wouldn't fit as nicely as it does. I think it would be looser around the waist, and the sleeves would make me look like I was 6 years old, wearing my mom's sweater. This is an elegant design for a Star Wars shirt. I can't wait until the days and evenings cool so I can wear this!

Empire Strikes Back Thermal Hoodie - $40 USD from Her Universe.Com

Final Thoughts
Her Universe is going to be a successful company, especially if they continue to expand their line of female orientated Star Wars merchandise. They already plan on adding more designs, jewellery, and possibly lip gloss. There are also talks about getting licensing rights for other Sci-Fi venues. My personal dealings with Her Universe has been pleasant. Everyone I have spoken to has been informative, polite and considerate. The fact that Ashley puts in so much time and effort into this makes it even more worthwhile, because she genuinely cares about the brand and its customers. The prices for the shirts are fair considering the quality. I was a little disenchanted by the shipping charges and the duties, but I knew I had to pay those. It would be nice if the shipping wasn't as expensive, but most shipping from the US tends to be. The nice thing about expensive shipping meant they came faster. I hope that the company does well, and that it comes out with more designs. I will probably hold off on buying anymore, unless there are a couple I like. I am not sure how much it costs for one shirt to be shipped, but if it is at least $20-30, I'd rather just place an order when there are two designs I like. I am hoping they make a Han Solo shirt. I know a Chewie shirt is in the works, and maybe I'll consider it. It will be exciting to watch this company grow. If you love Star Wars and don't mind the prices (US shipping is cheaper I imagine), I highly recommend this store, and I'd shop there again.

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