The Importance of Science Fiction Fashion

Everyone knows that science fiction film and television invariably spawn lots of t-shirts that are cool with geeks. (“Han Shot First” and “Republicans for Voldemort” are just two examples.) The sci-fi genre also has a lot to say about fashion — both mainstream and the avant garde.

From high-tech fabric to body-hugging cuts, science fiction fashion often offers a viewpoint on where we think we’re going. While the body suits in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century may look ridiculous to us as clothes, they’re not much different than many high-tech outfits currently designed for running and other workouts.

But as much as science fiction fashion is often about the presumed future, it’s also often about the now. The miniskirt uniforms in the original Star Trek are just one great example. Miniskirts were high fashion when Star Trek first launched on the airwaves, and clothing the women of the show in them wasn’t just about giving the guys watching at home space babes to look at. The miniskirt was a symbol of the empowered woman.

Science fiction fashion also often speaks to the past, with many films and movies viewing space as a sort of wild west. Both Star Wars and the cult-hit Firefly followed this model and brought us characters dressed in waistcoats, long-suit jackets and fitted pants tucked into boots, in a way that proves all fashion trends manage to come around again in their own time. Meanwhile, the BBC hit Torchwood, features a lead character who always wears a WWII-era British greatcoat.

When it comes to science fiction fashion, Firefly utilized another popular trope, by viewing the future as a world with a distinctly non-western cultural influence. With that in mind, Firefly showcased bright colors and clothes based on many forms of traditional Asian dress including kimonos , sarees and cheongsams, all of which are increasingly seen influencing western fashion as Asian nations gain economic and cultural strength.

Science fiction fashion isn’t just for geeks. Rather it can show anyone interested in fashion history where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going, although not necessarily in that order.