Collecting Star Wars Fashion – my Star Wars Celebration Chicago panel. In the lead up to Celebration 2022 this weekend, I’m taking a look back at some of my favourite Star Wars Celebration memories – which of course includes the honor of being able to present two panels, one in 2017 and one in 2019.
On the first day of the Star Wars Celebration Chicago convention in 2019, I presented my panel, ‘Collecting Star Wars Fashion’, as part of the Collecting Track. Here is the full description, as presented in the convention program –
As apparel forms an essential part of human existence, Star Wars fashion is often a ‘gateway’ collecting hobby. This panel examines the concept of Star Wars clothing and related collectibles as both a form of self expression and as a collecting focus, particularly those aspects of the hobby that are unique when compared to other pursuits. Presented by Kristy Glasgow, writer for the Star Wars fashion blog The Kessel Runway.
Check out the video below for the full presentation slideshow with narration, or continue reading below for the full transcript with the accompanying slide images.
Welcome to the collecting Star Wars fashion panel, thank you all for joining me here. My name is Kristy Glasgow, and I run the women’s Star Wars fashion website The Kessel Runway. It has been great to see just how much Star Wars fashion there is available here, so many great brands – and so many fans wearing awesome Star Wars fashion!
I presented my first Star Wars fashion panel at Celebration Orlando in 2017 where I talked about many different brands and a little bit of the history of women’s Star Wars fashion. As a bit of a follow up, for this panel I will be taking a look at a wide range of aspects of collecting Star Wars fashion, broken down to 3 main topics: fashion as a collecting focus, self-expression and identity, and sources of Star Wars fashion.
In this first section we will be focusing on fashion as a collecting focus. So what makes Star Wars fashion collecting unique compared to other aspects of Star Wars collecting? I’ll also talk about the decisions between collecting versus wearing, the storage of fashion items as wearable items that are both in use and also collectables, and will touch on modifying and upcycling and where the line is drawn between customising for use and damaging a collectible. And lastly, we consider sentimental fashion and how we can include our love of Star Wars in some important events in our lives.
I have been a Star Wars collector for many years, and slowly refined my focus towards female Star Wars character collectibles. It took me quite a few years to fully realise that I was also actually collecting Star Wars fashion. This was partly because there was a lack of Star Wars fashion locally and so I had to hunt online to find women’s Star Wars apparel and accessories, and there was much less available locally than there is now. I decided to start keeping track of my finds and purchases, and that led to the start of my website, The Kessel Runway.
So what makes fashion different to other Star Wars collectibles? There is a wide variety available now but the very nature of fashion items is that they perform a function. Some examples here are Princess Leia and Jaina Solo collectibles from Funko and Kotobukiya, beside handbags by Heroes And Villains, and Loungefly with similar themed designs. The collectibles are easy to collect and store, as they will sit on the shelf and remain mostly untouched. We all know to keep collectibles safe and out of sunlight but how do you protect items that are designed to be worn, used, and taken outside on a daily basis?
The same goes for other Star Wars make-up collections, notably those by Covergirl and Cargo Cosmetics, and a range of other cosmetic items like temporary tattoos by Love and Madness and the Star Wars nail art by Jamberry. These are items I would love to be able to use every day as part of my regular make-up routine – but for me personally these were hard to find and I had to import them from overseas, meaning I only have a very limited supply that would run out very quickly if I use them every day.
I have also collected Star Wars perfumes made by several different companies which are themed to female Star Wars characters including Rey, Queen Amidala, and Princess Leia. I have worn these perfumes once each but I’m hesitant to use them more knowing that each use is using them up. While the bottles themselves are beautiful and will be fine displayed on a shelf empty, and even though I may never wear them again, I still like knowing they are there, rather than empty and I can no longer enjoy the scent – are they are all beautiful perfumes. I actually spotted the Leia perfume at the Toy Chamber booth here, check them out at booth #5221.
I know it may seem counter-intuitive to buy make-up and perfume and not use them but for me these are limited collectibles that are part of the wider range of Star Wars fashion that won’t be made again and so I have chosen to keep them as collectables rather than for everyday use. But that’s just me.
As some of you may know, Star Wars jewelry is amongst the very first Star Wars merchandise to be made dating back to 1977. Jewelry is designed to be worn and I have tried to collect as much vintage jewelry as I can. Some of the items like the Empire Strikes Back range of necklaces are easy to remove from their boxes – you simply lift off the clear window and take the necklace off the backing card, and you can easily put the necklace back in its box and return it to its original, packaged condition. Some items you cannot, however – you have to choose between keeping it as an original vintage carded item or permanently removing the item from its packaging.
For example, here is a Wicket necklace on a backing card from 1983. The bubble is lifting slightly, the card has bends and a tear on the front – and I purchased this on eBay for one dollar. The purchase price reflects that this isn’t a particularly rare or sought after item, especially considering its condition, so this is a good example of a situation where it is up to fans to decide if they would keep the item carded as a collectible, considering it is a vintage item, or would they remove the item and wear it. Does it have more value to you as a sealed collectible, or a jewelry item you can wear and love? Tricky decisions.
I don’t really have something clever to add about these two items, I just wanted an excuse to include them as their quirky nature has always made me smile. These licensed items were released in 1983 for Return Of The Jedi – a Salacious Crumb necklace and knitted Star Wars leg warmers. The leg warmers aren’t exactly in my everyday wardrobe, but I do like to wear the Salacious Crumb necklace from time to time. Some fun examples of just how varied Star Wars fashion has been over the years.
Here are some examples of some of the packaging of Star Wars fashion items I have. On the left these are just some of my Star Wars jewelry boxes – I know these are not vintage items but they are still Star Wars items and as such, I have not been able to get rid of them! The jewelry is easy to put back into each box so in some ways it feels like it is part of the collectible nature of the item.
Shoeboxes in particular can be tricky – here are two of mine, a tidy and pristine Po-Zu box compared to my recent Inkkas box which unfortunately got quite crumpled in the mail. Shoes are one item that are quite frequently kept with their boxes even if they are not collectible. It is like buying an action figure to keep on its card only for it to arrive bent (and we’re all probably familiar with those horror stories). Not that it affects the function of the shoes in any way, but it’s always sad to see such well designed Star Wars packaging damaged. Perhaps I need to buy more Inkkas shoes, who am I kidding? I know I will! They have such a great range – you can check them out here today at booth #2516.
Many collectors will be aware of the damage that sunlight can do to plastic but fabrics can also discolour over time. One of my most expensive Star Wars fashion items is the white collared Darth Vader shirt by Preen by Thornton Bregazzi. I have never been brave enough to wear this white shirt out so it still has its tag attached. To avoid marks I have kept it in the box it arrived in, wrapped in white tissue paper. As you may be able to see in the photo, the front printed fabric has turned a slightly yellow shade, especially when compared to the plain, unprinted fabric of the back shoulders and collar. This shirt has barely been out of its box but has unfortunately changed a little with age even before I had the chance to wear it. To be fair I did buy this more as a collectible than an every day wearable item considering it was nearly US$500, but it is a shame to see that it has changed from its original condition despite my best efforts.
Another aspect of collecting Star Wars fashion is the delicate nature of fabric. Despite our best efforts fabric will always remain susceptible to damage while wearing and sometimes while not even being worn. This Rey inspired cape has a textured outer fabric and Velcro tabs. When worn open the Velcro tabs easily snag the fabric, meaning, sadly, this item got snagged in my shopping ag at an event, before I could even wear it. Granted it is an inexpensive item but nonetheless disappointing to see it damaged like this. If you’ve ever watched a documentary about fashion, they often show the extraordinary care and methods of storage and handling for designer garments, even if they’re only a few years old. Fabric absorbs sweat and oils, and washing can further damage fabrics. It’s a tricky balance.
Because fashion has a function we sometimes end up modifying items to better suit our needs. There are times when I find a necklace pendant I absolutely love, but with a chain style or length that does not suit me. Thankfully jewelry links are usually easy to open to remove a pendant from its original chain and reattach it to a necklace of a different style. Here are two examples from my own collection which I took of necklaces with very long chains and reattached the pendants to a circular wire style necklace. On some occasions I have also found pendants that I thought would make for very good earrings, like this lightsaber pendant from a necklace by Loungefly. While the necklace was on sale I purchased two additional necklaces and carefully removed the lightsaber pendant and hung them from earring hooks, to create a matching set.
Thankfully you can edit jewellery in this manner and still be able to revert it to its original state. These vintage C-3PO dangle earrings originally came on clip on earrings which were more common in the 1970’s. Carefully opening the jewelry ring attachments, I was able to attach the dangle part to modern pierced ear hooks so that I can wear these beautiful sculptured earrings – in fact I wore these at a previous Celebration convention to meet Anthony Daniels. He noticed them, and we talked for a bit, it was a great little moment.
Well we can edit jewelry easily, but altering garments on the other hand, That’s not usually such a reversible process. Often I find a t-shirt or fabric print that I love but it’s not available in a woman’s version. Sometimes all it takes is a pair of scissors to alter a men’s t-shirt into a woman’s tank top, like the one on the left here. Sometimes, I have taken men’s garments completely apart to use the fabric to sew a completely new item – like this shirt I made from fabric that was originally men’s sleep pants. With this type of alteration I generally only use items that are cheap, on sale for clearance or not particularly rare as it is a slightly more destructive type of alteration. Of course once you purchase an item it is yours to do with as you please, but I try to be careful not to destroy something special – cutting up Star Wars bed sheets for fabric feels a bit like opening carded vintage figures – you are forever altering it’s existence, when there are other easier to find alternatives.
With a growing range of Star Wars footwear available now, I find myself having to make tough decisions about how much I can wear my Star Wars shoes before I worry about damage. With regular shoes I tend to wear them until they wear out as I’m sure many of us do, but when it comes to Star Wars shoes I have been rather hesitant to wear them as much as I would like to. Examples here include Irregular Choice, Sperry, and Vans, which were all made in limited amounts and so can’t be easily or cheaply replaced. Some times I think I’ll save them to wear at a Star Wars convention, but then I remember the huge amount of time we all spend on our feet at these events! It’s something I struggle with.
In fact some designs from the Irregular choice footwear collections have specific features that will be damaged, destroyed, or worn out with use. Many of the pairs featured a coloured print on the soles which can only be protected by applying an additional plastic protective layer – which does protect the artwork, but alters the shoes from their original condition.
Some pairs also featured lights and sounds which activated while wearing – this is a super cool feature, but they involve fixed batteries that only last so long and will eventually stop working. Not that they don’t look cool by themselves but it is a little sad that this feature is essentially time-limited. Many children’s shoes include lights and sounds but kids generally grow out of shoes so it’s not as much of an issue and they don’t cost as much!
The aspect of storing fashion has both positives and negatives. Every house already has places for storing clothes like a chest of drawers or a wardrobe. As anyone who has a collection of action figures will know, finding space to store and or display collectables can be an issue – it’s not uncommon to hear stories of collectors renovating their house to build more rooms for Star Wars displays! But with clothes, we generally already have a space, even in the smallest apartment. With my Star Wars clothes I do try to be more careful and actually fold up my sweaters rather than throwing them in the drawer, and I take careful consideration with my hangers to ensure my Star Wars clothes do not get stretched at the shoulders.
One of my favourite quotes from the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” is by the character Nigel talking about fashion – he says “you live your life in it”. Whether we think about it a lot or not, the clothes we wear often have sentimental value as they remind us of places and times when we wore them. There are many examples where we can use Star Wars fashion as a sentimental keepsake, most obviously Star Wars events and conventions like this one. Whether it is a souvenir bought from a place or a specific event, these items will always be special because of the memories associated with them, even if we didn’t specifically wear them at the event. My princess Leia t-shirt from Celebration 3 in 2005 is well worn and loved but it is a special souvenir from my first Star Wars Celebration convention, is something I will never throw out even if I’ll never wear it again.
Life is full of examples when jewelry is used to convey meaning or connection with someone. Whether it is an engagement ring or a “best friends” necklace set, there are many examples of Star Wars jewelry that can hold special meaning. Designs like the Haysian Smelt necklace set already has inbuilt meaning because of the close relationship between the sisters Rose and Paige Tico, making this the perfect subtle sentimental jewelry piece to share with a loved one. There are also many fun friends set necklaces celebrating friendship – in this case inspired by R2-D2 and C-3PO. At the higher end of the price range Kay Jewelers also released a beautiful range of Star Wars jewelry with precious metals and stones, the perfect gift for the special Star Wars fan in your life – there were many designs that would have made the perfect engagement ring. SalesOne has a fantastic range of Star Wars jewelry available, check them out at booth #3219 (I may have spent more than I should have there).
Here are a couple of examples of Star Wars of sentimental Star Wars fashion from my own wardrobe. I was gifted a Star Wars garter which I wore on my wedding day (and it was also my “something blue”), and a TIE-fighter print dress that my daughter wore to her high-school prom. These are both significant occasions in our lives and it was really special to be able to include Star Wars details in these outfits particularly because what we wear on our wedding day or prom is so closely linked to our memories of that day. Had there been more Star Wars fashion available back then, I know I would have worn more for my wedding day – I’ve seen the gorgeous Irregular Choice Star Wars shoes worn by brides under their dress, and there is beautiful Star Wars jewelry available now too.
With the growth of Star Wars fashion availability, it now covers every age, starting right from birth. With the generation of fans who grew up with Star Wars now having kids of their own, it is the perfect time to include Star Wars fashion in those early days of your child’s life. Many parents, myself included, love to share their love of Star Wars with their child – I also keep any baby clothes as sentimental keepsakes from when they were young. My daughter loves Star Wars and even though she is of course too old to wear her baby clothes she has so many fond memories of these t-shirts even though she was only three years of age when Episode III came out and couldn’t watch it until sometime later. Taking the sentimental approach even further, Cubcoats makes children’s Star Wars sweatshirts that transform into cuddly toys – their current range includes Chewbacca and Darth Vader. These are such a cute and creative item that are sure to become a very sentimental childhood item. Check them out for yourself at booth #3518 – they are so adorable!
While many of us may not think too much about the clothes we grab to wear each day, they do carry a lot of meaning, reminding us of the times we wore them just as we remember our favourite childhood toys. If you have ever watched the Marie Kondo Tidying Up series, you will see just how hard it can be to let go of clothing, because it reminds us so much of people, places, and times in our lives.
Moving on to self expression and identity.
As the famous fashion magazine editor Nina Garcia once said, “style is a deeply personal expression of who you are and every time you dress you are asserting a part of yourself”. The clothes we wear are part of our personal identity, how we present ourselves to the world. So it makes sense that as Star Wars fans, we enjoy sharing that passion with others by showing it with our apparel. Whether it is a casual t-shirt we throw on for running errands or a full, themed ensemble, there are many ways we can use Star Wars fashion to express ourselves no matter your own personal tastes or style.
We will take a look at fashion as a form of self-expression, apparel as a human need, Star Wars fashion is a hobby relevant for every fan, style as a part of personal identity and inspiration and influences.
Fashion style is a very personal thing. Whether we realise it or not we will always be drawn to specific items and styles when browsing at a store, even if we can’t articulate why we like a particular item over another. One particular aspect of Star Wars fashion I often hear is the preference for bold versus subtle branding. Some people enjoy Star Wars fashion for its bold designs, letting others clearly know that you love Star Wars. Others may prefer the subtle inspired designs that they know are Star Wars but may fly under the radar to the casual observer.
Here are a few of my favourite examples of bold versus subtle – this chunky stormtrooper necklace covered in rhinestones will let everyone know you’re a Star Wars fan, very much in contrast to this subtle three-tiered chain necklace with its petite Rebel bird and tiny Star Wars logo. You can also apply the same preferences to garments – here are two pairs of leggings from Terez. One is covered in Darth Vader helmets while the other is a pair of plain black leggings with a small panel at the ankles with a constellation inspired print. Only when you look very closely do you spot the Star Wars elements in amongst the stars. There is a small Rebel bird logo, and a BB8 shaped constellation design. The Darth Vader leggings are an obvious Star Wars branded item while the black constellation leggings are not nearly so overt.
Beyond Star Wars branding there is of course the strong component of personal style. Whether you wear dresses and have a more softer feminine style, or if you wear dark colours and prefer a more rock ‘n’ roll style, there are ways to include Star Wars in your wardrob. Of course you may be like me and enjoy having a wide range of styles in your wardrobe to suit your changing style. It’s fun to mix it up sometimes.
With the wide array of Star Wars fashion available now there are endless ways to include Star Wars in your outfit. Whether it is a silk Darth Vader shirt to pair with a skirt and heels or a casual Star Wars T-shirt with jeans and sneakers, there is so much to choose from. Star Wars fashion has grown so much beyond simple t-shirts and I love the variety so that I can choose outfits to suit my personal style or just my day-to-day tastes.
Style is so personal there is no right or wrong way to celebrate Star Wars with your wardrobe. Sadly I often hear the phrase “you don’t want to look like Star Wars threw up on you”. Really, who cares? If you love it, then wear it – don’t let anyone let you feel you can’t wear the Star Wars fashion you love.
If you want to wear Star Wars logos on every part of your body with rhinestone decorations and glow-in-the-dark logos then go for it. If you prefer the more subtle route with inspired designs that reference Star Wars characters and costumes only subtly, then that is awesome too. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for celebrating Star Wars the way you want to. Go out there and rock your look with pride celebrating the films we all love.
If you if you like to put together inspired outfits then there are a few found items to include in your look for a subtle Star Wars touch. Most notably is the silver jewelry by Lapponia which Carrie Fisher wore as Princess Leia in the Yavin medal ceremony scenes of Episode IV. Due to demand these vintage designs are once again available to buy direct, though as large silver items, they are at the higher end of the price range. For those of us on a budget, these geometric silver cuffs are often available on cheap websites like Wish for just a few dollars each – these are exactly the same as the ones worn by Amylin Holdo in Episode 8.
Speaking of budgets – Star Wars collecting is often seen as an expensive hobby, and it certainly can be. If you’re on a limited budget it can sometimes be hard to justify buying collectables, but with fashion being a human need, we all require the basics like at least socks and underwear – we already have a reason to buy these sorts of fundamental items. So why not make them Star Wars themed? In many instances we can find Star Wars fashion at similar prices to regular items so for me the choice is easy – I’ll take the Star Wars ones. Unlike other some areas of Star Wars collecting like props or statues, Star Wars fashion can be enjoyed by fans with a small budget and small storage space, making it an easy gateway into Star Wars collecting. Anyone can do it.
Regardless of where you live, there is Star Wars fashion to suit the weather of your home town. From summer time beach wear like togs and sunglasses, through to cold climate with clothing like knitted jumpers and thermal jackets, there is Star Wars fashion appropriate for all climates, all year around. I particularly like Star Wars fashion for summer – it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate Star Wars while on vacation and there is a growing range of swimwear options for from brands like BackMilk Clothing and Musterbrand. Vacations are just for you, and I love the freedom to wear as much Star Wars as I like while on holiday.
Whether or not you can wear Star Wars fashion to work, or whether you have to wear a uniform or a suit and tie, there is a variety of Star Wars accessories you can incorporate into your wardrobe. From the classics like socks and underwear that are hidden under your outfit to subtle touches like jewelry, cufflinks and ties. These are great ways to add your own personality to your work attire, and to express yourself every day.
One significant part of our personal identities are the communities we belong to. Within the wider Star Wars fan community there are many clubs and groups representing many different aspects of the fandom. Perhaps some of the most well known of these are the costuming groups like the Rebel Legion and 501st Legion. As we have seen around the convention floor, when not in costume many members wear club apparel and accessories as an identifier, showing their affiliation to the club and celebrating the role that that community has in their life. Even if you don’t belong to a specific club, you belong to the family of Star Wars fans, and wearing Star Wars fashion shows you are part of that community.
I have seen so many people strike up conversations with others while waiting in line, based on something they had on like a shirt or a pin – it’s an ice breaker, a commonality that helps us connect with other like-minded people. A way of showing who you are without having to speak.
Personally I am also a big Star Wars video game fan, particularly of the MMO Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR). As a daily player, SWTOR plays a big part in my love of Star Wars, and I celebrate that with my wardrobe. It has been a few years since SWTOR apparel was available to buy, but I tracked down many of their swag giveaway tees on eBay. I was very excited to add a new tee to my collection at the SWTOR cantina event here on Saturday night.
As functional apparel, clothing has to suit not only our own personal tastes but also the roles and tasks we have to perform every day. Whether you are a doctor, or working out at the gym, there are ways to incorporate your love of Star Wars into the role attire for every situation. There are even Star Wars scrubs on Amazon for hospital workers – I love that!
For me Star Wars is filled with positive messages and one place I could always use positive inspiration is in the gym! From Yoda’s Jedi wisdom “Do or do not there is no try” to words of inspiration about Rey, wearing Star Wars apparel for my workouts, particularly ones with inspirational quotes, gives me the extra boost and motivation, as if I am a Jedi in training. It works too if you’re on the Dark Side – I love my ‘Rule The Galaxy’ tee for the days I’m feeling a little bit more sithly!
Star Wars quotes are popular themes for Star Wars jewellery, from the classic “May the Force be with you”, to “Never tell me the odds”, there is something very special about looking down at my wrist for words of wisdom during the day. One of my absolute favourites is the Princess Leia inspired bracelet by Lillian and Co – with just the simple word “Hope”. Beyond the meaning of the individual quotes just having a touch of Star Wars with me wherever I go always brings a smile to my face when I need it most. Star Wars has been such a positive influence in my life and I carry reminders of that with me every day with my wardrobe and accessories.
For many fans, the inspiration we find from Star Wars characters extends beyond the screen to the actors and actresses themselves. In particular, for me, this includes Emilia Clark, Daisy Ridley, and Natalie Portman. These leading ladies are fashion icons in their own right, as well as the characters they portray, which adds another layer of inspiration to character themed fashion and accessories.
Many of the Star Wars actresses have fronted campaigns for major fashion and beauty labels, as well as appearing in fashion magazines. While many of us may not be able to afford the fashion from these brands, or as worn in the magazines, they still serve as inspiration. In particular Natalie Portman has been Miss Dior since 2010 – beginning with the Miss Dior perfume campaign and more recently as the face for the Dior Rouge lipstick collection. The lipstick collection particularly stands out as Natalie wears their signature 999 red shade which for me has a strong connection to the iconic make up she wore as Queen Amidala. It is not strictly the make-up she wore in the film, but when I wear this same red shade as Natalie, I feel as if it is something Padme herself would have worn. It isn’t Star Wars branded but the connection is there – and it feels special.
Of course the more obvious way of celebrating our favourite characters and actors is to wear fashion highlighting or featuring them. Here are a few of my favourite characters and themed fashion items. The first is of course Daisy Ridley as Rey, with a top by BlackMilk Clothing, and necklace by SalesOne. There is a huge range of Rey themed fashion available, which is great – I can’t wait to see the range of designs that will be available for Episode 9!
There is not as much Padme Amidala themed fashion as I (and many others) believe there should be, so I try to collect it when ever I can. Padme is such a style icon, as is Natalie Portman. They are both accomplished women and role models and wearing Padme fashion helps inspire me. The first shirt is by We Love Fine, while the second shirt is from Forever 21, with a Padme’ inspired Naboo symbol cardigan by Her Universe.
Of course we can’t talk about female Star Wars characters without including Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher. Let’s see if I can get through this without crying. Leia is especially significant for me, I met Carrie Fisher a number of times, and I certainly tried to collect as much Leia fashion as I can. Wearing it reminds me of the strength and hope of her character and celebrates so much of what I love about Star Wars.
In situations where I feel like a more subtle inspiration, I look to symbols that represent Leia. In A New Hope, Leia wears silver jewelry and accessories with her white dress, so the silver Rebel Bird symbol is always synonymous with Leia for me. In the new sequel films, Leia wears a distinctive ring which is now available as a licensed replica version by SalesOne. Wearing this ring makes me feel like I have a connection to Leia, wearing the same jewelry as her and it is the perfect subtle piece I can wear anywhere and with anything.
Since Carrie Fisher passed away, symbols of Leia now have greater meaning for many of us. Many fans remember her sharing glitter with fans at conventions and it has inspired a “Glitter For Carrie” movement. For her birthday last year my daughter and I celebrated her legacy by combining silver glitter with Leia inspired touches such as her classic bun hairstyle and Rebel symbol. Not technically a fashion item, but hairstyles can add a great finishing touch to a themed outfit and are particularly fitting since Leia has such iconic hairstyles.
As well as taking inspiration from specific characters I personally find great significance in the love stories of Star Wars. Star Wars is how I met my husband and we got engaged at the filming location of Anakin and Padme’s wedding in Italy. Sadly there isn’t much fashion inspired by the love story in Episode II so these particular items hold special significance for me – the first was a limited-edition T-shirt sold by Shop Disney, while the second is a costume-inspired knitwear piece by fan label Elhoffer Design – and of course I bought the gorgeous new Padme’ dress and sweatshirt by Her Universe! Who else has plans to visit the villa in Italy wearing that dress?
Moving on to sources of Star Wars fashion. While most of us usually buy our regular clothing at a local store, Star Wars fashion tends to be more wide spread in its availability and so it can be quite the adventure to collect. While online shopping is quite accessible, it does add some complexities when combined with the collectible nature of Star Wars items.
In this segment we will look at the rise and growth of Star Wars fashion companies, collectible brands versus mass-market, apparel sizing, exclusive items and accessibility, and fan made fashion.
There are so many companies producing licensed Star Wars fashion so I can’t cover them all but I just want to highlight two of my recent favourites – and not surprisingly they are both footwear brands – I love shoes so I am so happy to see so many options available for both men and women nowadays.
One of my favourite Star Wars fashion companies is the ethical footwear brand Po-Zu. Keen-eyed fans identified the footwear on display as part of Rey’s costume at Celebration Anaheim. Due to demand, the company re-issued that specific style of boot. From there, the company launched a full licensed collection of replica footwear and costume inspired designs and have continued to expand their range with fabulous sneakers for both men and women. They are well known for their incredible comfort which is great for when you want to wear your Star Wars shoes all day at a convention – be sure to check them out at booth number #5315.
Also in the footwear market is the brand Inkkas. One of my favourite designs is from their latest collection release – these shoes feature a repeating print of the leading ladies of the Star Wars saga – Queen Amidala, Princess Leia, and Rey. Inkkas also has a booth here at the con – number #2516. I am so happy to see Queen Amidala featured on shoes! I need more!
As with other areas of Star Wars collecting, some brands and items are highly sought after while others tend to be linger around. I will take a quick look at some notable fan-favourite brands and what makes them so popular.
A personal favourite of mine is the Australian clothing label BlackMilk Clothing. I had been a fan of the range for quite some time so it was very exciting when they announced a full licensed Star Wars apparel collection in 2012. The collection was primarily aimed at women with a range that included leggings, body con dresses, swimsuits and body suits. The collection was so popular it was unfortunately widely available from knock-off sources.
Flash forward to 2018 when BlackMilk suddenly launched a brand-new collection including pieces inspired by the new sequel trilogy. This time the range included many unisex pieces and a wider range of garment styles and prints. By this point BlackMilk was so popular that the website crashed for over an hour upon launch and BlackMilk had to extend their quantities and ordering time frames to cope with the demand. This type of frenzy buying has earned BlackMilk fans the nickname ‘sharkies’! Thankfully I was able to get the pieces I want and there are still a handful of designs left which include the most popular ones – it’s great to see a brand react to demand to help more fans get the pieces they want.
UK based footwear brand Irregular Choice also saw a frenzied release for their Star Wars footwear collections. This is another brand that I have long admired so I knew I had to grab as many pairs as I could but I did not expect the popularity to be so high. The R2-D2 shoes from the first collection that you see on the left sold out within 15 minutes! The collection included really unique elements, as do all Irregular Choice designs – like sculpted character heels, light up lightsaber heels, and some even play sounds when you walk. It was not surprising that since their first collection did so well, Irregular Choice created a second collection with a fresh take on some of the most popular designs from the first collection, like these R2-D2 heels on the right with glitter elements and little X-wings. I couldn’t help myself, I bought both.
Like all areas of Star Wars collecting, sometimes it can be hard to discern what fashion items will sell out quickly and what will linger on store shelves. Most apparel uses art work from the same database as other brands, which means it can come down to the fan following of the brand itself that determines how popular the designs will be. Here are two of my favourite tees from Cotton On. The Leia one in particular is a favourite but it was available for quite some time.
One particular collection that I thought didn’t get enough attention was the fabulous Episode 8: The Last Jedi range by ASOS. In particular, the dresses with unique prints inspired by the glittering gold of Canto Bight and the black and white of the First Order. These are completely unique in both print and garment construction. In particular the First Order dress has many frilled elements in a style very rarely seen in Star Wars fashion. These dresses took over a year to sell out and while ASOS is a major international brand it is hard to say just how much stock was made for these items. It is just an interesting case that affordable designer looks like these didn’t get quite the same fan attention as other brand collections. I think these two dresses are gorgeous and I would love to see more designer inspired garments like these.
Buying Star Wars collectibles, many of us know the panic of trying to buy online quickly before an item sells out, but Star Wars fashion has the added complexity of sizing. Most often the collectible and highly desirable items are launched online which means fans have to don’t get the chance to try on the size before buying, especially with the popular brands with some sizes selling out more quickly than others.
Some brands will make an equal amount of each size, while others will scale the sizing quantities to match with the most popular sizes. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages depending on whether you fall in the most common size range or in the high and low ranges. It can be frustrating not wearing a common size and finding yours is the one that sells out first… do you buy a slightly different size so you don’t miss out? These are dilemmas quite unique to Star Wars fashion collecting that you don’t typically need to worry about for such hobbies as action figure collecting. Sadly, sometimes designs are not made in a full size range, so there are fans that just can’t buy it at all – I really think Star Wars fashion should be inclusive.
As we all will know, garment sizes can vary within brands and between different brands. For example here are two women’s T-shirts – one by Rock & Republic and the other by Her Universe. The dark blue Rock & Republic shirt is an extra small while the Her Universe red shirt is a size medium. These are both women’s garments, though Her Universe tends to use juniors sizing which is a slightly smaller range than standard women’s. This variance can make buying online tricky especially when it comes to popular designs that sell out quickly.
Personally I know I have often bought two different sizes of a particular item that I really didn’t want to miss out on, knowing that by the time I got the item in the mail it would be sold out and I couldn’t return it for a different size if needed. And of course everybody is different and everyone has different preferences for fit – most websites will have a sizing chart but my personal favourite is when brands list the actual garment measurements so you can decide the right fit for you based on your preference.
We are all familiar with the concept of limited edition Star Wars collectibles but that can take on different meaning when it comes to fashion. For some items like handbags, the edition size is the complete range, like this Loungely R2-R9 handbag. It had an edition size of 600 meaning that if you wanted to buy it, there were 600 chances.
On the other hand, compare that to Star Wars garments, where edition sizes can take on a different meaning. The edition size is the total number of items made but really for each fan the edition size is much less because it is divided by the available garment sizes and it is not always advertised how many of each size are included in the total. Say a jacket has a limited edition of 1000 but the jacket comes in 5 sizes – that means the functional edition size for each fan is only 200 because they will generally only buy their own size. That’s suddenly a lot less.
There are also other added complexities to limited editions and sizing – for example the Vans footwear range is unisex, which means that for women like myself with smaller feet it can be hard to find pairs in my size – the larger and traditionally men’s sizes were much easier to find. The fantastic Adidas Star Wars collection included a Princess Leia sneaker, but at the time there was only one pop-up Adidas store in my country, which wasn’t in my city, and they didn’t sell online at the time. So a friend in Australia was able to pick up a pair at the local store and send them to me. For that store they only had one pair in each size so I was very thankful that my size wasn’t already gone.
We are familiar with convention exclusives but some companies will also release convention variants. For example Loungefly have released variations of some of their popular bag designs at San Diego Comic Con. The pink stormtrooper clutch is a variant of their standard white version and didn’t actually sell out at the convention – they still had stock left over afterwards. After that event their popularity grew immensely so by the next year their Comic Con exclusive sold out very quickly. The Loungefly Rey inspired backpack came with a pin and Rey goggles headband. At first it appeared as though this backpack was exclusive to Comic Con and fans were upset that it sold out so fast. As it turned out, it was a variant – both the bag and the headband were available from stockists individually so in the end it was only the pin that was truly a con exclusive. I myself got caught up in the frenzy to get this bag and thankfully a friend was able to get one for me as I was unable to attend. It can be funny how just a simple change or the words “exclusive” can make us want something more.
One particular convention exclusive item that I quite like is Star Wars jewelry. It’s small so it’s easy to carry around all day and packs well in your suitcase. Unlike t-shirts that often have large date and branding on the front commemorating the event, jewelry tends to be more everyday wearable. For example these necklaces from Celebration Anaheim and D23 in 2015 have the convention information on the back. There are some neat Celebration exclusive Star Wars kyber crystal necklaces here today at the SalesOne booth (number #3219). Be sure to check them out. I personally picked up the Yoda necklace – these don’t have any event branding, but it’s still a great souvenir that I can wear anywhere.
With so many amazing characters in Star Wars we often find some of our favourites aren’t featured on apparel as often as we would like. This is often where fan made fashion rises up to fill the gap in the market. Padme Amidala in particular is often left out so I am so happy to see a growing range of items inspired by her gorgeous costumes. These unique designs are made by Fashions For Fans and Elhoffer Design. Of course Her Universe has released some beautiful Padme items at this convention but she still doesn’t get as much recognition compared with Leia and Rey. Personally I try to collect as much Padme fashion as I can find so well I hope licensed companies will make more. In the meantime, I’ll be celebrating her with my fan made fashion.
Costume inspired designs are where fan-made fashion really shines – not using logos or copyrighted imagery, but still celebrating a fantastic range of costumes and characters. From fashionable characters like First Order spy Bazine Netal to classic favourites like Han Solo. There are so many great designers and clever fans creating Star Wars inspired fashion that often it is fans that come up with classic designs first before the licensed companies do so, like these Corellian Bloodstripe leggings by Gold Bubble Clothing. Clearly they are filling a gap in the market.
With the easy access to custom metal and enamel accessories the range of Star Wars pins and jewelry has exploded. I really enjoy seeing all of the creative and fun designs available now and pins are so highly addictive! I think most of us would have picked up a pin or two this weekend – I know I wish I could have bought more! Places like Instagram and Etsy are great places to find new fan-made pin and accessory designers – like these great designs from Lantern Pins and Utinni Bikini.
Here are a couple of personal projects where I created necklaces that I couldn’t buy at the time. Funnily enough, I finished my slideshow two weeks ago, just before the new Japor Snippet necklace was revealed which of course was my very first purchase here. I just had to have it. It’s beautiful – check it out for yourself at the Toynk booths around the exhibit hall. It’s a little sad that it took 20 years for there to be a licensed version of this iconic necklace from Episode I, but I’m so happy it is finally available.
One of the other significant jewelry items in the Star Wars movies is Jyn Erso’s Kyber crystal necklace. Kay Jewelers made a made two beautiful inspired versions which used gold and diamonds so these were unfortunately out of my budget – but I had fun making an inspired jewelry version for myself for just a few dollars. While obviously the collector in me will always buy Star Wars licensed Star Wars fashion items, it can add a special personal touch to an outfit to include something unique that you personally made.
So what happens when you find something you love but it’s sold out? Well we often turn to eBay and re-sellers for a second chance. Secondhand clothing tends to be quite a different market to other Star Wars collectibles as clothing is often worn and used before being resold. Some items like the Darth Vader sweatshirt by Preen by Thornton Bregazzi had quite a high price tag so it is more common to see these higher ticket items being resold because of their designer nature – and they still retain a good value on the secondary market.
Sadly it can be a little harder to find more everyday items like t-shirts and sweatshirts – this particular Kessel Run top by Her Universe was sold at a Kohl’s. As an international fan I couldn’t buy this t-shirt directly so I was very happy to find it on eBay, new with tags. Even if you think that a t-shirt is cheap or common there is probably someone out there hunting for it, so please sell them on as you would any other Star Wars collectible. I know I have my own wish list of items I missed out on that I am always hoping will show up on eBay some day – and I am always getting emails from fans trying to track down specific items. Especially with Star Wars apparel, it can be quite the long wait hoping the item shows up – in the size you need.
So whatever your personal style or approach to Star Wars collecting, whether you’re a young new fan or you’ve been a fan since 1977, there is Star Wars fashion for you. Celebrate the films we all love by wearing your Star Wars apparel with pride and always rock your Star Wars style your way. Whether you take Star Wars fashion collecting seriously as a hobby or as an excuse to treat yourself to a few more t-shirts, handbags or shoes – it’s all fun. It is such a versatile area of Star Wars collecting – and one I hope you all enjoy.
Thank you for coming along!