SDCC 2018: 10 Things We Learned from the Star Wars Fashion Panel

Leading talents in Star Wars clothing and accessories gathered to talk design and inspiration.

The Force was strong with the world of Star Wars fashion yesterday at San Diego Comic-Con. Lucasfilm’s Celina Chu hosted the first-ever official Star Wars fashion panel, which included Nixon’s Joe Babcock (director of technical products); Stance’s Joe Jorgensen (VP of design) and his son; Bioworld’s Nathan Grant (VP of merchandising), Doug Johnson (creative director – men’s accessories), and Sarah Mooney (creative director – Jrs. accessories); and Ashley Eckstein (founder of Her Universe and voice of Ahsoka Tano). They each talked about their unique approaches to Star Wars design, showcasing early concepts for product and discussing how ideas evolve for everything from watches to jackets. Here are some of the most fascinating and fashionable insights.

1. For Nixon, it’s all in the wrist — and subtle details. When creating Star Wars timepieces, the vaunted watchmakers try to incorporate a Star Wars aesthetic in a deeper way. Nixon‘s goal: “Trying to narrow in to storylines, and characters, and details, and products that not only work for Nixon, but work in concert with Star Wars to create an epic experience,” said Joe Babcock. “We love the details. Because we work with a technical product with watches, it’s a pretty small canvas to work with. We spent a tremendous amount of time exploring and studying the finite details of all the attributes of the Star Wars films, and then started digging really, really deep to find a twist.” This is evident in Nixon’s Darth Vader watch, which features vertical Imperial light shapes around the dial, the grille of the Sith Lord’ mask, and the Death Star at 12 o’clock. This approach continues with their Boba Fett watch — which includes a surprise Han-in-carbonite on the band.

2. The Nixon Star Wars experience continues with the packaging. For the Han Solo watch, its box is based on the Millennium Falcon‘s floor boards. The design is completely Star Wars, and a creative and charming way to smuggle your watch home. Han would approve.

3. Stance’s initial inspiration for Star Wars socks didn’t come from marketing research or focus groups. It came from home. Joe Jorgensen told a story of how he and the design team were trying to crack an approach to socks and weren’t quite getting there. Finally, he watched one day as his son opened up a new LEGO Star Wars set and immediately dug inside for the minifigure, ignoring the vehicle bricks. “That was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me,” Jorgensen said. “Then next morning I came into work and said, ‘Guys, I know what we need to do.'” Stance would focus on characters, Jorgensen decided, and he sketched the above concept, which would be the springboard for their line.

4. With characters goes story. Stance crafts its socks so that they’re accurate to the saga’s characters and events — something made clear in the company’s breathtaking (and fun) scene recreations. “The characters just resonate with you. They’ve become so much apart of our lives,” Jorgensen said. “We wanted to make sure we brought that to life, so we actually spent quite a lot of time and money building these sets. We built these from scratch.”

5. Put socks on your holiday list. Stance revealed its Holiday 2018 collection, dubbed the “Warped Series”: a Gary Musgrave-designed line that takes iconic moments, stretches the images, and plays with colors. “We’re really excited about what we were able to execute,” Jorgensen said.

6. With Bioworld’s first product — a rebel pilot backpack — they looked to tap into childhood memories while still making something for grownups. “I knew that I loved it, because as soon as the samples came in everyone in our office wanted to get their hands on them,” said Nathan Grant. “The fact that I could get up and go to work and feel like a rebel pilot, and I’m climbing into the car and throwing it into the seat next to me — that imagination that you had with those toys that you had as a kid, you’re truly reliving that experience.” Bioworld brought three backpacks — Mandalorian, Rebel, and Imperial Trooper — to SDCC 2014, and fans were buying all three. This success and unique take on Star Wars inspired an entirely new brand…

7. Heroes and Villains! This is a new, just-launched label from Bioworld focused on fans and with complete respect for the source material. “When you say, ‘I am going to put this in front of George Lucas. I am going to stand face-to-face with him and say, ‘This is a great representation of what you have created,’ that raises that status quo pretty fast,” said Grant. Appropriately, Heroes and Villains focuses on the good guys and bad guys of the saga in equal measure, with the first wave inspired by Imperial biker scouts and rebel soldiers from Return of the Jedi. In addition, Bioworld wants its designs to last. “It must be timeless,” Grant said. “If you find one of our rebel backpacks…it should be as ready for you to wear today as it was five years back.”

8. Focusing on moments. Bioworld tries to dial in on specific scenes and looks in Star Wars for inspiration. You can see Heroes and Villains art development above, and how logos evolved to incorporate salient elements and signatures, like a motorcycle flair for biker scouts.

Plus, Bioworld wants your help: it was  announced that a fan vote will be held on the label’s official site to decide the next collection’s theme!

9. Her Universe was formed because Ashley Eckstein couldn’t buy a Star Wars shirt. The voice of Ahsoka Tano, shortly after Star Wars: The Clone Wars launched in 2008, went shopping for something Star Wars to wear…and found there wasn’t much. “I was told to be happy with a mens size small because women and girls wouldn’t buy Star Wars merchandise made for them.” Eckstein did her research and found that as of 2010, women made the majority of consumer purchases, and constituted 45 percent of sci-fi fans. She was determined and formed her own company. “To not be able to be who you are is really hurtful and really upsetting. I literally took a step back and I thought, ‘What would Ahsoka do?’” Today, Her Universe stands as a major Star Wars label, even launching an Our Universe brand with clothes for men.

10. Begun, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars fashion has. Eckstein and Her Universe have created a 10th anniversary line for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which made its debut at SDCC 2018. If you’ve heard the big news, you know that the timing was kind of perfect. “I started designing this way before I knew The Clone Wars was coming back,” Eckstein said. “But it made us look really smart.” Time to finish the Clone Wars…with style.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

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