Saturday, August 24, 2019


This year's emerging designer Astrid Underground was the first to debut her intoxicating and jaw-dropping brand at Phoenix Fashion Week's runway show earlier this month at The Moxy in Tempe, AZ. I was so happy to be sitting up front so I could see that first model hit that runway. It was a show popping move!  The music immediately got the audience super hyped for the night's show.

Astrid Underground's founder/CEO and all-around LadyBoss Nicole Willis graciously invited us into her world so we could get a much closer look at her mastery. I hope you will be just as instantly addicted to this unique brand as I was. Here's what I learned about this emerging designer... Astrid Underground.

Because inquiring minds want to know, what is the meaning behind ‘Astrid Underground’? 

“Astrid is an old Norse girls name that means “Divine Beauty”. So when you put them together it is finding Beauty in the “underground” or in this case the unusual.”

Is there an Astrid involved? 

“No. My name is Nicole, but everyone seems to call me Astrid. I respond to it anyway.”

What is your specialty meaning your statement piece? 

“Corsets and leggings are my specialty. But my brand is so much more than that. I design everything my ideal client would wear on a daily basis. From work, to weekend, to evenings out. Astrid underground is about celebrating your uniqueness. From your body to your personality, you are “Uniquely You”. 

What makes your corsets unique? 

Some of the styles are unique, but the fabrics are what REALLY separates me from the other guys. I use textures to create new looks, the outside of the corset is usually a darker Gothic look, but the inside of the corset is made of 100% (usually batik) cotton. Batiks are fun vibrant fabrics that are super unique. 

Your over-the-top leggings are BOSS! Is there a story behind their conception?

“I was the head seamstress for a legging company for a while, I loved their look and feel, but most of the designs were bright and colorful. That’s not me, I’m a grey, black, blue kinda girl. So I make what I would want to wear.” 

Your sneak peak on the runway at The Moxy was RI-DIC-U-LOUS! I  am in love with the steampunk vibe. I felt like that was a vision you had for awhile. Tell us about the concept. 

“So this is a mashup of gothic and steampunk. My collection will tell my clients story of her week. From going to work, out for the weekend, and a classy evening out. I design for me 10 years ago. I make what I would have worn.”

How is the designer bootcamp going for you? 

It’s super stressful. I never have time to spend with my hubby. I wake up between 7-8 AM and I usually go to bed at 11-12 o’clock. I’m always doing something for this bootcamp. 

We know it can be intense AND intimidating with all the expertise given to you all. Have you felt any struggles with your own journey?   

Absolutely! My manufacturing company told me they can’t fit me in, so I now have to design, pattern, and sew everything. This whole process feels like it’s been one catastrophe after another. 

I’m struggling every step of the way. But I’m always trying my hardest to accomplish everything that has been asked of me. I always try to go a little more than what’s been asked. 

What has been a valuable takeaway thus far being involved with Phoenix Fashion Week? 

“I have learned to let go of my high “perfect” standards. Because with the workload, you don’t have time to make everything perfect. Sometimes you just gotta make it werk. Lol. In the infamous words of RuPaul “You betta werk.”

Being a part of Phoenix Fashion Week is extremely demanding. How do you like to spend your downtime when you get it? 

I don’t have down time, and haven’t since this all started. But the minute it’s over, I am off to the lake. Then in November I’ll be going on a cruise to the Western Caribbean. 

Do you have other passions? 

“I love to sing Karaoke, but my favorite thing to do is travel! I love being by the water! It doesn’t matter if it’s a lake, river, or an ocean. I just love the water.”

Thus far, what solid piece of advice would you give the next ambitious designer? 

If you are going to do this, make sure you have taken some of the digital classes PRIOR to competing for designer of the year. If you don’t, you will find all of this very overwhelming. Or you could just show last years collection, then you won’t need to buy all new fabrics, trims, or pay to have it made. Plus you’ll save time too, because you don’t have to sew all of your looks. Make sure you have a business plan already made. Make sure you have an income to support yourself while you’re doing this because you don’t have time to work and do your homework, and build a brand too. Time,time,time! The one thing you can’t buy. Trust me, if I could I would!!

Nicole Willis
Where does your vision take you in the next 5 years? 

“Hopefully getting a paycheck. Lol. I want to sell online and in others stores. I would love to see people walking around in my clothes. I like to see how it makes them feel.”

Please check out our YouTube channel for the fun we had playing around in Nicole's studio. Yes I was touching everything. Here you will get a great visual on what it takes to become Astrid Underground. Get your tickets here to see this emerging designer show at Phoenix Fashion Week held at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

See you on the runway!


Photos provided by Astrid Underground

Video Interview with Astrid Underground

Presented by   @chronicbehavior

Thanks to the Chronic Behavior team
for their excellent coverage of the event. They are the team helping to support and promote the brand. We appreciate you for your continued support.