Strange New Worlds' Coolest Costume Is An Homage To Two Star Trek Classics

The third episode of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," titled "Ghosts of Illyria," employs a common Trek plot: It was an episode about a virus that infiltrated the Enterprise, and the race against time to find a cure before disaster befell the ship. While the episode was taut and well-constructed — and offered some personal backstory for Commander Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) — detail-obsessed Trekkies (and that's most Trekkies) were taken by a new Starfleet uniform accessory: Those awesome pleather away mission jackets. Because "Star Trek" is set in a formalized world of protocol, a chain of command, and military entente, a variety in wardrobe was often not afforded the characters. Audiences typically saw them in their uniforms while they were on duty. 

As such, anytime a Trek uniform is remotely fashionable, it is something to take notice of. The jackets in "Ghosts of Illyria" look stylish, but also practical. They have nice lines and clean silhouettes, simultaneously comfortable and functional. They perfectly ride the line between Starfleet uniform and casual weather wear. The jacket, stripped of their Starfleet patches, could easily be worn in public as a non-Trek-related article of clothing, perhaps looking slickly futuristic, but passable in a bar. 

The jackets were designed by Bernadette Croft, who also worked on the uniforms on "Star Trek: Discovery," and who took her design inspiration from a few classical Trek sources.

The bomber jacket

In an interview with Inverse Magazine, Croft said she looked at "The Cage," the original Trek pilot (and the origin of several "Strange New Worlds" characters), as well as the popular feature film "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." The general idea for an away mission jacket and its overall aesthetic was taken from "The Cage," while the idea of wearing Starfleet logo patches — as an astronaut might wear the NASA logo — was something first seen on Kirk's jacket in "Khan." The NASA-like patches were also a large part of the uniforms on "Star Trek: Enterprise," so they extend into a deeper uniform tradition. 

Croft wanted to keep things looking like Starfleet, but to update them appropriately:

"With the jackets from 'The Cage,' I just thought that they were a little boxy and a little cumbersome. For our versions, I looked at the 1960s bomber jacket. We made grey leather jackets, with a bit of polytechnic and microprint. They're effortlessly cool. You can fight some aliens wearing it, but you can wear it to a bar, too."

The microprint is a common costume design technique in a lot of modern genre entertainment, with a lot of uniforms and superhero costumes featuring a subtle stippling to give an otherwise solid-colored jumpsuit a bit of texture. The jackets have that subtle texture. 

Where can I buy them?

The jackets were first seen on screen in "Ghosts of Illyria," but they were first revealed at a Trek convention — Star Trek: Mission Chicago — a months earlier. Trying to be playfully sneaky, Croft and her team attempted to wear the actual in-show costumes out on the convention floor, seeing if they could pass as one of the many, many cosplayers in attendance; if there's any place you are permitted to wear your homemade "Star Trek" uniforms, it's on the floor of a Trek convention. Croft's costumes, however, were pegged immediately as the genuine article. Trekkies spend so many hours watching their favorite shows, they can tell the difference between a skilled homemade costume and an on-screen uniform in an instant:

"We were found out straight away. We had made up all those cover stories and were going to enter the cosplay competition. But we couldn't fool them for a second. They swarmed us."

Perhaps rightly so. Those jackets are likely already in high demand — by this author, at any rate. One may be able to state with some confidence that resourceful Trekkies the world over are already cutting out patterns and stitching together their own version of that jacket to wear at future conventions. Or, given how versatile it is, at their local bar as well. It's not only fashionable, but a great ice-breaker. If someone recognizes it, you have a fellow Trekkie to chat with for the rest of the evening. And have some Romulan ale. The embargo has been lifted. 

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is currently airing on Paramount+.