Ever since the Star Trek: Discovery trailer came out last month, fans have been talking about the costumes and yesterdays release of the first picture of Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) gave us the clearest picture yet of the Starfleet uniforms.
These new uniforms appear to be the most intricate of any seen before in the franchise, either on TV or film; providing a particular challenge to cosplayers seeking to craft their own. Showrunner Aaron Harberts recently cited them as one of the reasons the show has been delayed; they flew a costume designer to Switzerland to get the fabric, and some of the detailing had to be custom-made using 3D printers.
Like any uniform, these 23rd century Starfleet issues are designed to be both functional, and to convey information about the officer wearing them. We’ve taken a close look and created a detailed infographic for you. We also take a look piece-by-piece at each component with some zoomed in screenshots below. Let’s start with the infographic…
INFOGRAPHIC: The Star Trek: Discovery Starfleet Uniform
(Click for an even higher-resolution, downloadable version.)
Note that the above graphic is based on observations from what has been released as of now. As more images and information is released we will update the graphic and repost it.
The new Starfleet Uniform – a closer look
They key component of the new uniform is the jacket. All the uniforms (jacket and trousers) appear to come in the same basic blue. The zipper (which is slightly offset from center), shoulder braids (which seem decorative and don’t indicate rank), and a raised delta shield pattern on the sides all have the accent which indicates department: gold for command, silver for science, and bronze for operations. The captain also gets an additional striped shoulder pattern. One note is that the braid, as seen so far in the handful of examples from the trailer, has four stripes for women and five for men. This seems to be a function of the size of the uniform, not something indicating rank, division, or gender.
Trousers and Boots
The delta pattern is continued on the trousers, which also include a zipper and stripes, again indicating division. This division detail continues even down to the boots, as not only do they have a color-coded stripe around the sole, there also appear to be two delta shield clasps as well. These are hard to see in the trailer, but can be made out with closer observation of the trailer.
Star Trek: Discovery also brings us delta shield badges which are new but still familiar as they use the same division symbols seen on the original Star Trek (set 10 years later). The badges are also color-coded to these same divisions, but they are doing double duty. They also function as rank insignia, although you will have to be pretty close to make it out. They are using a ‘pip’ system similar to that from Star Trek: Enterprise (set in the 22nd century) but actually more akin to Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s 24th century-era.
One quick note on the ranks: If we assume TNG system of rank pips then the trailer images indicate that Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is a Commander and Saru (Doug Jones) is a Lt. Commander, however earlier reporting had them as Lt. Cmdr. and Lieutenant respectively. So either the Discovery pip system is different or their ranks on the show are different than originally reported, or possibly their ranks change during the show.
Variants and Other Starfleet Outfits
In addition to the main uniform, we have also seen some other bits of Starfleet kit. One of the more interesting ones appears to be some kind of variant. You only get a couple of glimpses of it from behind in the trailer, but it appears to be a short-sleeved version of the standard uniform with a sort of cummerbund wrap which is (of course) color-coded. There are only a couple of examples and both were female crew members so it is possible this variant is only for women. One of the images was from the back of the bridge, so it does still appear to be something worn on duty. Unfortunately we haven not seen the front of it so we can only speculate, but presumably it is a shirt with a badge or possibly the badge is on the cummerbund, like Kirk’s green wrap tunic. It may even be that this short-sleeved shirt is what is worn under the standard jacket.
An even more obscure detail was spotted for just a few milliseconds in a scene in the corridor of the U.S.S. Shenzhou. As we follow one officer (in the above mentioned variant) down the hall, a brief flash of another crew person putting on some kind of white jacket can be spotted. This white jacket could be casual wear, but a good guess might be that it’s a medical smock.
One thing we get a really good look at is a new spacesuit, worn by Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), as she takes a spacewalk in the trailer. And just like the uniforms, this is the most elaborate Starfleet spacesuit seen in Trek.
The trailer and officially released images also give us a look at some desert wear. These do not appear to be standard Starfleet desert uniforms as there are no indications of rank or division, unlike the desert uniforms seen on Star Trek: Enterprise and similar uniforms on Deep Space Nine. However, they may still be Starfleet-issue and made to blend in with the locals on a visit to an alien world. The utility belt also seems to be similar to those from the original Star Trek’s “The Cage.”
Like in “The Cage”, Discovery has field jackets, but with a bit more of a tactical bent. The braiding along the sides of the pant and shirt are black, the collar is lower and a uniform hight and it zips to the top, and the chest, back and shoulders have extra protection in the form of a vest. Where the division badge would be looks to be a standard Starfleet Command insignia, like on the space suit. There is also another (different) utility belt for holding a sidearm on the leg and (presumably) a communicator in the pouch at the waist.
Changes made since first look
It also appears that there have been changes made to the uniforms since the behind-the-scenes teaser trailer was released in January. The badges appear to have been widened. The cut of the jacket seems to have changed as well. Plus, a color-coded zipper is now more prominent. .
“Happy Transporter Accident”
The new standard uniforms for Star Trek: Discovery are unique, and clearly different from the standard duty uniforms worn on the U.S.S. Enterprise either under Captain Kirk or Captain Pike, but that does not mean they are entirely new. Last summer, Discovery co-creator and former showrunner Bryan Fuller described the uniforms thusly:
“I think that when you see it [the uniform] I can tell you specifically what the influences are, and that the styles that [they adopted] a transporter accident in their approach. A happy transporter accident. I think when you see the design, you’ll say “It’s a little bit of this, it’s a little bit of that.”
When you look closely you do see various influences, particularly the 22nd century Starfleet jumpsuits seen on Star Trek: Enterprise. While the new uniforms are two pieces, you can still see the influence of the blue and the zippered pockets from Enterprise. And another major influence may be the excursion jackets from the original Star Trek episode “The Cage,” which is set at the same time as Star Trek: Discovery.
As noted before, the insignia design and sizing are pretty much straight out of the original Star Trek, although styled more as badges than sewn on. The rank pips on the badges seem to be replicated from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
As for the color-coding system of gold, silver and bronze, this may be another element that pulls from “The Cage” style. With gold again for command, science blue becoming silver, and the operations tan becoming bronze.
The uniforms may also share more influences from beyond Star Trek, including NASA. The shoulder braids seem particularly reminiscent of a classic sci-fi look from the 1950s, also used extensively in Futurama.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.
What do you think of the new uniforms?
So what do you think of Starfleet’s latest outfits? Sound off in our comments section below.
Aaron Harvey is a graphic designer and hosts an excellent podcast dedicated to Star Trek: TAS (and Trek in the 70s) for Trek.fm called Saturday Morning Trek.