SvahaUSA Is Turning the New James Webb Telescope Images Into Out-Of-This-World Outfits!
These dresses are interstellar!
We’ve been covering Svaha USA since they got started in 2015 with a Kickstarter that raised $30,000; it all started when founder Jaya Iyer wanted to make a line of gender-neutral STEAM kids’ apparel after she realized the disconnect between the clothing her daughter wanted to wear and the clothing that was marketed towards young girls.
In the seven years since then, Jaya has expanded her brand into adult STEAM (which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) fashion, with clothing lines inspired by everything from the suffragettes to a Fibonacci sunflower in honor of Ukraine, to their most recent collection, outfits inspired by images from the James Webb telescope. The adult clothing line is actually more profitable than the kids’ clothing line, with Svaha’s designs appealing to teachers who seek to bring out the Ms. Frizzle in themselves while also providing a unique visual for their students when explaining different processes. In fact, she states that many ideas for designs come from these customers.
“Recently I collaborated with a woman who is a biomedical engineer and we made a dress and… she was so happy to do this with us… fashion is something that she had never done before,” Iyer said in an interview with The Mary Sue. And she’s right. People are finally beginning to accept that science and fashion are not exclusive to a single gender but are careers and hobbies that can and should be pursued by everyone.
Of course, when the James Webb telescope images were released to the public, Svaha’s loyal customers came calling. “The moment we saw the images, we were already designing… we had customers contacting us, asking us when we’d be able to put them on a t-shirt,” Iyer said when asked about the James Webb designs.
But it’s about much more than the pretty images; to Iyer, it’s about having a piece of science history with you, about taking pride in the nerdy part of yourself and showing that off in public.
She stated that perhaps her favorite part about Svaha USA is seeing how her designs bring joy to her customers. “They tell me about how when they wear my clothing, they get stopped two, three times a day by strangers who love the designs,” she said. This is especially important for women in male-dominated fields, like coding, as it can help them find other people who share their interests. People say dress for the job you want, and even if you have the job you want, reminding yourself of the value in your work can be self-affirming.
The brand also does good in other ways; Svaha USA also works with many charities, donating proceeds from certain designs and working with groups and individuals in making designs to bring awareness to causes. Iyer told one particularly interesting story about a dragon boat rowing team of breast cancer survivors and designing a shirt for them that donated a portion to breast cancer research, how while it may not technically fit into STEAM, it still works to show. They have also had a neurodiversity-themed t-shirt that supported autism acceptance and worked with the Society of Women in Engineering and Childhood Cancer Research. The gestures may seem small, but small things can make big changes, as shown by Svaha USA and the programs it supports.
When asked about if and how the world of STEAM fashion has changed in the years since she founded her company, Iyer noted how it’s arguably gone mainstream. “The success of my company proves that there was something missing from the market,” she said. “Today if you go into a store like Target, you will see girls’ [STEAM] clothing, but they don’t go as in-depth as I do. Yes, you will see some space themed designs, something beyond princesses and butterflies… but nobody makes them for women… they still stick more to t-shirts rather than dresses… I do prints with geometry and mitosis.”
In many ways, it reminds me of women’s geek fashion before Her Universe; before Her Universe showed the fashionable side of geekdom, most nerd clothing available for women was graphic t-shirts, some of which weren’t even women’s cut. But since then, there’s been a revolution of women showing that not only are we geeks and scientists, coders and mathematicians, but also showing pride in that through the clothing we wear.
Jaya is certainly correct about the importance of specificity and creativity; while Target does have girls’ STEAM clothing, much of it is generic NASA-branded shirts. Svaha USA has an extensive catalog of STEAM clothing that goes into many specializations including space, chemistry, physics, biology, zoology, art, language arts, history, mythology, and architecture. There’s something for everyone, and they’re expanding all the time.
It’s also turned into something of a family business. Iyer’s daughter, who she designed the space shirts for, is now also joining in on her mother’s business, designing her own outfits for the brand based on her interests, like Under the Sea and Piano, in addition to modeling for her mother’s company. She herself is still deciding on whether she wants to be an artist or an architect.
When asked about what she would say to her past self, Iyer admitted, “I had a lot of doubts when I was starting, failed business attempts before, if you really believe that something is needed, something is missing from any industry, just believe, you have to try because you will never know. If I had given up, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Much like many of the people’s work that forms the basis of her clothing line, Jaya Iyer shows how you can change the world and make it a little brighter. Staying the course in the face of adversity is a challenge, but it’s one that she’s overcome, and thanks to her and other indie fashion brands like Svaha USA, they are changing the course for everyone who wants to touch the stars.
The full interview is available to view on The Mary Sue official YouTube channel:
(featured image: Svaha USA)
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