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Laura Bailey

From t-shirts to full-on collections, Critical Role’s Laura Bailey understands the value of fashion's intersection with fandom.

From t-shirts to full-on collections, Critical Role’s Laura Bailey understands the value of fashion’s intersection with fandom.

Finding ways to push the envelope in the fashion industry presents unique challenges. Enter Theorist putting together a one-of-a-kind fashion show that not only strengthens the relationship between brands and fandom but celebrates it. Presented by the popular YouTube channel Style Theory, Creators in Fashion is set to be an interactive, authentic, and integrated live experience (with a virtual component) showcasing brands with uniquely designed ready-to-wear pieces, from some of the world’s most iconic creators.

Hosted by Matthew Patrick and Amy Roberts, with live commentary from Rosanna Pansino Creators in Fashion will hit the air on April 25th with the pre-show at 2:30 pm PST/5:30 ET and the main event at 3 pm PST/6:00 pm ET. The show will feature talent from brands such as ZHC, Yes Theory/Seek Discomfort, Blogilates/Popflex, and Critical Role.

As Critical Role continues to evolve, so does their fanbase, developing their style and expressing themselves through Critical Role’s pieces. Over the last 9 years, Laura and the CR team have gone from making t-shirts to growing into full-blown fashion lines based on characters from their campaigns. Participating in Creators in Fashion is yet another way to connect with their audience and give back to the fans who have helped propel them to the forefront of mainstream media. With fashion pieces that continue to be inclusive, and stylish, giving off a nerdy flare, their runway walk isn’t one to miss!  While Laura won’t be walking in the show itself (she’ll be participating in some behind-the-scenes goodness), she couldn’t be more proud of what she and her team have put together exclusively for the runway with maybe a surprise or two in store for the audience.

In conversation with 1883 Magazine,Critical Role’s Laura Bailey discusses their involvement in Creators in Fashion, what she’s most looking forward to about the event, how Critical Role’s merch came to be, what fashion means to her, and so much more.

Hey Laura, thank you for taking the time to speak to me about Creators in Fashion! Can you talk to me about Critical Role’s involvement in the event and how long this has been in the pipeline?

Oh, gosh, how long has it been in the pipeline? I guess we’ve been talking about it for a little over a month, maybe two? Style Theory approached us and asked if it was something we wanted to participate in and we jumped at the chance! It’s something we’ve never even considered as an option before. Style Theory has such a fun following and such fun videos, I thought it would be an awesome thing to take part in.

What were your thoughts when you heard about the show itself?

First off, I was nervous. The thought of putting our clothes on a runway just seemed beyond the realm of possibility when we first started doing this. It’s exciting. We’ve never gotten a chance to show looks put together with our line and it made us realize how much we’ve created since all of this started. It was fun to try to come up with like, ‘What pieces are we going to show? How are we going to put it together? How are we going to lump it together?’ We have these nice little themes going throughout the show and you know, each creator that’s taking part is getting 10 to 15 minutes of walking so we’re trying to figure out how to best showcase our stuff.

Just as a fun fact, I did a little bit of research yesterday, and according to the Critical Role wiki, you’ve been in charge of merch since campaign one episode 33!

[Laura laughs] Is that when I started?

Did you take on the responsibility? Or was it thrust upon you?

It’s so funny because we decided to make a t-shirt and I was the one that knew how to use Photoshop [laughter]. So, I was like, ‘I’ll do it. I’ll make a t-shirt!’ I created this little graphic and then Marisha and I went and got it printed together. We only made 100 shirts because we thought, ‘Nobody’s gonna want to buy this.’ It sold out before we even finished talking about it on the stream. It’s so mind-blowing that anybody would want it and like thank God we only made 100 because we hadn’t thought about how we were going to ship it. We just sat in our dining room and all of us doodled on little envelopes and sent them out to the fans and everything. That’s how it started. I just kept doing it when we finally decided to form a company because originally we were a bunch of goofballs playing a game together. We all decided where we fit best in a company setting and what we would take charge of. That’s grown into all the different things that we make now.

Would you consider doing a re-release of the original shirt? Maybe a limited edition or retro slash throwback line?

That’s a good thing to think about. We have our 10th anniversary coming up, so maybe that would be fun. Really fun. I’ve never seen them in the wild, not the original ones that we released. We did a little reprint but it had ‘Twitch’ on the side of the shirt.

How wild has it been for you to watch it go from 100 shirts to what it is now? The Critical Role shop is all over the world, Canada, the United Kingdom, the EU, and Australia.

It’s insane. Originally, all we thought we could do was t-shirts and maybe keychains or something. As the fandom has grown, so has their style. There are so many different people that watch and there are so many different styles, we can create things that different genres can enjoy. We started doing our cut-and-sew lines where we create clothing based on what our campaign characters would wear in the modern day. That’s been such a fun thing because it’s a creative challenge to figure out. ‘Okay, what would Imogen wear in day-to-day life right now? What would Laudna wear? Without making it too on the nose?’ We don’t want it to feel like cosplay, which is amazing. But it’s completely different than that. 

When you look at putting pieces together, what factors are you taking into consideration?

There’s a lot of different things. We think about what season we’re gonna be releasing it in, wearability, we think about if it’s too far fetched? Right now, we’re working on a Vox Machina line, which I’m so excited about! When we were doing Vox Machina (the first campaign of Critical Role), we were in no place to be doing pieces that we designed ourselves. It’s fun to be able to go back and do that for those characters. We’re in the middle of coming up with ideas for Scanlon. We have our little creative team that meets every week and we brainstorm and we come up with different ideas and we came up with so many things for him! ‘Oh, it’d be amazing to do like a sheer shirt, or a velvet valore sort of jumpsuit. But would people actually buy that?’ 

Yes!

Well, I would wear it [laughs]. You’re coming up with things that would also need to appeal to people, you know? I’m so excited about Scanlon’s line.

No spoilers, right?

[laughs and shakes her head]

I tried, everyone! What are you most looking forward to about the event itself?

I’m excited for our employees! I know models are walking on the runway but one of the fun things that we wanted to do was show people that work at Critical Role. We have a lot of people that that volunteered so that’ll be really fun.

I know you can’t say much about what will be shown but how excited are you to showcase these pieces on a scale of 1-10?

10 and beyond. Most of the pieces we’re showing is stuff we’ve already released. We have one new item we’re going to be showing on the runway. That’s super exciting! It’ll be a nice little reveal. But what I’m most looking forward to is seeing everything together because we always release things every couple of months. So, to see that breadth of years of work, put together in a collection is going to be incredible.

Can’t wait to see it! What is your favourite thing about creating merchandise for the company?

I love seeing people in the clothes. It’s been a joy to go back to conventions. We went years without being able to see. It’s amazing. We’ll do these photo shoots or autograph signings when we’re at a convention, and seeing so many people come up and wear everything in different ways is so cool. I always see a ton of Molly camp shirts. Everybody wears it differently and everybody looks amazing in it and it just makes me so happy. Every person that comes up I’m like, ‘You look so good!’ I’m happy to see it worn and used and loved.

I went to the Mighty Nein live show back in October and the number of people wearing Vax’ildan’s hoodie, Yasha’s blouse with the ripped sleeves, and Caleb’s blazer, I thought, ‘Oh my God this is incredible!’ To see people wearing these nerdy items so casually and free was just so heart-warming!

That’s the beauty of creating these items that maybe are not just t-shirts, you can wear them to work or you can wear them to school or you can wear them in environments that don’t necessarily say ‘Critical Role.’ You know, they just show your interest, and anybody that sees it could potentially be a friend.

At the core of Creators in Fashion are the fans and this event is a way to celebrate them and to strengthen the bond between brand and fandom. What do you think fans should anticipate during the show?

I just hope they have as much fun with it as we have. I’ll be there. I won’t be walking. I would trip on my face and fall [laughter].

Relatable.  

But I will be there. I’ll be there doing fan questions and getting to do some behind-the-scenes stuff on the day. I have no idea what to expect and I think that’s what makes it so anxiety inducing and exciting at the same time.

Why do you think it’s important to have shows like Creators in Fashion?

I think it’s awesome to be able to show your interests and your fandom in your day-to-day life. I always say that everybody’s a geek for something. We’re all nerds for something and to be able to go out, and like I said earlier to find people with like-minded interests in a way that you probably wouldn’t be able to, you know, we’re so closed off in our day to day lives, than to be able to be at a store and see somebody with your same interest and know you have that connection instantly, that’s so important.

I couldn’t agree more! I remember being at the mall not too long ago and seeing someone with a Critical Role shirt and I just had to flag them down! We had a conversation for a good ten minutes, talking about our favorite characters in the current campaign, it was great!

That makes me want to cry. That’s exactly what I’m talking about, I love that! 

When you see fans take your pieces and make them your own. How does that make you feel? And what’s one of the most creative uses of a piece you’ve seen in recent memory?

I always see people taking the t-shirts and styling them in cool ways. I have Marisha to thank for that. She’s always big on chopping up her shirts and doing cool things. Like our white t-shirts. I see people at conventions tie-dyeing them in really awesome ways. That’s a really fun thing and something I had never thought to do or never expected!

What does fashion mean to you?

I’ve always been somebody who has a big interest in clothing. To me, fashion and my wardrobe is a way to not only express my interests but to express my my mood for the day. I feel like the clothing we wear really helps us create whatever persona we want to show to the world. So, some days when I’m feeling depressed, I might put on a bright outfit. Because I feel like it helps me play that role. Then, all of a sudden it shifts my mood. I think clothing can have such a huge impact on our perception of ourselves.

And lastly, how do you think Creators in Fashion will change the landscape of fandom and fashion as a whole, and what is your hope for the show?

Oh, my hope for the show is that it won’t be the last one. This is the first of its kind so nobody knows what to expect. I think it can only get bigger and better from here, right? 

The Creators in Fashion pre-show begins at 5:30 pm EST today, on April 25th, with the Main Event happening at 6 pm EST.

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