On the first day of the Star Wars Celebration Orlando convention, I presented my panel, ‘The Growing Galaxy of Women’s Star Wars Fashion’, as part of the Collecting Track. Here is the full description, as presented in the convention program –
Women’s Star Wars fashion has been around since 1977, but has grown significantly as geek culture has become mainstream and female Star Wars fans have become more visible and active in demonstrating their passion for the fandom. This panel takes a look at all aspects of women’s Star Wars fashion (both collecting and wearing), highlights from the range of commercial products and designer Star Wars garments on the runway, as well as examining the concept of Star Wars clothing as both self-expression and a collecting focus.
A full video of the panel will be available to watch online soon, but in the meantime, I will be sharing my full panel for fans to read. Over the next few weeks, I will share a transcript here, with all of the images and information shown at the panel, broken down in to the following sections:
- Collecting apparel and accessories as a hobby
- The history of women’s Star Wars fashion
- The rise of companies producing women’s Star Wars fashion items
- Fashion as a form of self-expression
- Female and prequel character representation
- Designer apparel on the fashion runway
- Every day cosplay
- Fan made fashion
- My personal favourite notable fashion items
Part 1: Collecting apparel and accessories as a hobby
I’ve been a Star Wars collector for years, but it wasn’t until a little more recently that I really started focusing on collecting apparel and accessories to the extent that I do now. Obviously we buy clothes and accessories for every day use, but there are a few aspects to collecting Star Wars fashion that make it both a little more interesting and a little more difficult at times.
While all fashion is, by its nature, limited in that it isn’t made for years on end, Star Wars fashion is a little more unique in that many items are specifically targeted to collectors, and as such are made in very limited runs either by edition size or by being available only as an actual time-limited run.
One of my favourite examples of a limited-edition item is the Loungefly hot pink stormtrooper wristlet that was released in 2015 at San Diego Comic Con. While the item was also available in a standard white edition, I have a personal soft spot for pink coloured items, a favourite colour of mine, and they really stand out. This particular item was limited to only 600 and so is quite a collector’s piece.
Another type of exclusive, which I’m sure we’re all familiar with, is the event exclusive item. While in the past, event exclusive fashion has usually meant a unisex t-shirt with the event date printed in bold letters across the front, over the past few years companies have begun offering more stylish, and subtle fashion items as event exclusives.
These are just a few examples of event exclusive necklaces – the Darth Vader pendant was available at the 2015 Disney D23 convention, the sculpted poster pendant was exclusive to Celebration Anaheim, and the ROTJ pendant by Her Universe was exclusive to 2013 Disney weekends with a limited subsequent release at a few other select events. I quite like necklaces as an event exclusive as they are small and are a great little memento that isn’t too strongly branded with a date and time (usually just etched on the back), so they endure and still match with any outfit.
There have also been a few retailers that do time-limited runs in that the apparel is only available to order for a fixed duration, with the subsequent amount ordered being made… and then that’s all that there ever will be.
These two examples are from the Disney store, as time limited print-on-demand T-shirts: one was for the Episode 2 Tsum Tsum release, while the other was for the release of The Force Awakens. We Love Fine is another example of a retailer who has done time-limited exclusives. They released a small range of Queen Amidala printed apparel in 2012 for the release of the Phantom Menace in 3-D. I bought both the hoodie and the women’s T-shirt from that range and they remain amongst my favourite Amidala apparel. It is a shame in many ways that it is not still available for fans that missed out… but it does make them special.
The popular Adidas Star Wars shoe collection that was released in 2009 included (sadly) only one pair of specifically women’s size shoes, featuring a Princess Leia design, and these were quite highly sought after. Locally our store only got in one pair of each size! I was very lucky to be able to snag one in my size through the help of a friend, but these went for significant amounts on eBay soon after, due to their collectability.
Some of the other styles in the range were packaged on blister cards similar to action figures which makes them even more of a collectible in the fact that you have to irreversibly take them off the card if you want to wear them, while you leave them on the card if you are keeping them as a collectible.
Some limited edition items even go so far as to have individual numbers on the item. A recent example is the Loungefly R2-R9 handbag that was released for Valentine’s Day. This was limited edition of only 600 and each bag has an individually numbered plaque on the inside.
As a collector I am particularly fond of numbered runs, as that really reminds you of how special your item is. In other areas of collecting, some fans will seek out to the lower addition numbers but I’ve never really been too worried about which ever number I get.
Another fantastic example of a limited edition item is the Musterbrand Sith Lady limited edition coat. As well as having a different printed lining fabric to the standard edition, this version also includes a specially numbered plaque on the inside. Despite the fact that limited edition numbered items are not rare in Star Wars collecting in general, there are not very many examples of it within the fashion range.
As you can see, my Sith Lady coat is number 0703, with its own specially numbered plaque on the inside. This gorgeous coat is a treasured item in my wardrobe, so the numbered plate is just the perfect finishing touch on such a special item.
Another range of Star Wars fashion items that continually challenges me are the consumables products such as perfume and cosmetics. I am always torn as to whether I keep these intact as they are as a collectible or, do I open them and use them on a day-to-day basis? For these items like the Covergirl cosmetics the collector side of me is winning out and I have not used them… as they were not available in my country, and I had to source them from overseas.
I think I need an endless supply of the gorgeous Love and Madness metallic tattoos – I would wear them every day if I could but with these too, I am worried about them running out, so I may save these for a special event.
While it is not in a category I have been able to collect from much, there are some fantastic international items which are very hard to obtain due to their location and licensing issues. It usually has to be something quite unique or specific to my collecting focus that makes me go out of my way to track items down from non-English speaking countries. One example are these super cute ewok “face pouches” from Japan that are designed as coin purses.
To be continued in Part 2: The history of women’s Star Wars fashion.