“If you’d earned that uniform you’re wearing, you’d know that the unknown is what brings us out here.” – Captain Picard to Q in the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Encounter at Farpoint”
Hi. I’m John Cooley with ANOVOS, and we’ve been preparing for the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Just like last year’s Star Trek: The Original Series Retro Shirt, we wanted to do something fun and unexpected to celebrate TNG — and, in doing so, we have created an entirely new line of uniform-inspired clothing that we have dubbed the “Shore Leave Collection.”
To begin, we set our sights to the beginning of TNG and took inspiration from the first products released for the new show. We remember well what it felt like in the days before TNG hit the air in September ’87. It’s a lot like how waiting for Star Trek:Discovery feels now. We hung on every piece of information that came out, scrutinized every drawing and picture, and the day that the first cast picture with Gene Roddenberry came out… we all went crazy. It was our first look at the new uniforms, and we were all blown away. So different from what had come before while being undeniably Star Trek. That was the genius of William Ware Theiss who had designed the uniforms for TOS and had designed these new uniforms.
The new uniforms were sleek and cool. Made of spacey looking spandex with the new “communicator” insignia (it would be another season before the name “combadge” was used) – they were amazing to see even in a still photograph. Even the TOS miniskirt was back, but in an amazing bit of re-imagining on Roddenberry’s part they were now a “Skant” that any of the crew could wear – regardless of gender.
Amazing, and fun, those early uniforms (jumpsuits and skants both) are firmly rooted in an exciting time when Star Trek was returning to the small screen for the first time.
Which is why when we first thought about doing something fun for TNG‘s anniversary we wanted to throw ourselves back to a time when everything connected to that show was new and exciting. So, we thought, “OK, what would a shirt like this have looked like as a new product in 1987? What would a designer have done then?”
The answer came to us almost instantly. A product designer working on TNG would most likely have been working from costume test photos and fabric swatches or even been given a backstage look at the production. It was when we thought about what we “would have done” that what we wanted to do became clear. Knowing that our imaginary product designer was looking for something to turn into a “fun-to-wear” short-sleeved shirt – they would have been thrilled with the Skant. There was a short-sleeved Starfleet uniform already in use! Easy, and accurate all the designer would have to do is chop it in half into a shirt. It seemed to us anyway that that was exactly what would have happened then, and so we had our shirt. But, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
There’s more detail in those first season uniforms than most remember. We had to make decisions about just which shade to use of each of the three (Command Red, Ops Gold, Sciences Teal) department colors, how to get the shoulder piping to look right, and even working out how a clothing manufacturer would have handled the communicator/insignia in the 80s.
So, we went to work designing just what these shirts would have looked like in 1987. We used a micro spandex for the department color sections of the shirt recalling the spandex of the original uniforms while employing the same comfortable fabric we used for our TOS shirts for the black areas. We even constructed the distinctive shape of the shoulder piping in precisely the same way it was done on the original uniforms while ensuring that they were easy to pull over by using the soft, rib-knit material for the collar that we use for every shirt in this collection.
That left us with only the communicator badge to figure out. Undoubtedly, the communicator would have become a patch, but it had to look like a real communicator, so we chose to use a radial stitch pattern to give the oval a three-dimensional look, while replicating the Starfleet Delta in a flat, reflective material that allows it to look like it was made out of the same resin material that the original badges were made from. The effect is awesome, and from a few feet back actually looks like the shirt has a real communicator attached to it.
By now you might be asking yourself why we would go to such lengths to “recreate” a product from 1987 that never existed, to begin with. The answer is because it was fun to do. We wanted to feel some of the excitement someone must have felt to make something for a show no one had seen yet. We also wanted to do it because we love the show and because the 30th anniversary of TNG gives us an opportunity to go back to a time when we couldn’t wait to discover what Star Trek would be in the future.
Our TNG “Shore Leave Collection” tunics will cost $50.00 apiece and will be available in all three department colors, and in sizes ranging from Small to 2XL.
Visit www.anovos.com to reserve your shirt.
ANOVOS will also have a limited number of the Command Red Shirt available at their booth at Star Trek Las Vegas, and we hope to meet you there.
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