The twinning-induced plasticity effect enables designing austenitic Fe-Mn-C-based steels with >70% elongation with an ultimate tensile strength >1 GPa. These steels are characterized by high strain hardening due to the formation of twins and complex dislocation substructures that dynamically reduce the dislocation mean free path. Both mechanisms are governed by the stacking-fault energy (SFE) that depends on composition. This connection between composition and substructure renders these steels ideal model materials for theory-based alloy design: Ab initio-guided composition adjustment is used to tune the SFE, and thus, the strain-hardening behavior for promoting the onset of twinning at intermediate deformation levels where the strain-hardening capacity provided by the dislocation substructure is exhausted. We present thermodynamic simulations and their use in constitutive models, as well as electron microscopy and combinatorial methods that enable validation of the strain-hardening mechanisms.