The following is an entry in Meilo Thench’s ongoing fiction series Silver Spiral Archives – an in-universe series of writings by researcher Meilo Thench. The original version of this article on alien fashion was published on Wattpad but has since been republished here and features corrections, enhancements, and internal links when relevant.
Comments are open for inquiries, questions, and corrections.
Due to the costs and challenges associated with space travel, even in a galaxy as advanced as our own, not everyone can travel the stars. It is indisputable that some people exude this fact in how they dress. The typical phrase I hear concerning clothing between Landers and Spacers is the idea of “the fab versus the drab.”
While this is undoubtedly snappy verbiage, it doesn’t quite reflect the cultural intricacies of this division… but it’s a good start.
I am not the most fashion-conscious, given we Greys are more concerned with the practicality of our clothing. I will explain these concepts as best I can.
We will go ahead and start with the fashion culture of Spacers.
Alien Fashion: The Spacers
The fashion of Spacers is best described as utilitarian. While spaceflight has evolved beyond the requirements of the life-support system embedded into flight suits with bulky helmets, space travel rigors require a utility you generally do not need planetside. It seems unfair to label Spacer clothing as simple, as it all tends to be remarkably complex in the areas of materials science and engineering needs. Still, Spacer clothes are rarely adorned in a decorative sense. A Spacer is far more likely to favor comfortable clothing when off duty, both planetside or in space. Shirts, pants, boots, sneakers, jackets, and belts are typical Spacer-chic.
Layers are particularly crucial as ships are often fine-tuned to operate in specific environmental parameters. As such, the easiest way to adjust for comfort is at the end of the individual. Many pieces of Spacer kit are adaptable and serve multiple functions. Often a jacket is not just a jacket but a collection of pockets for vital components or an anchor point for a tethered line for scaling a ship’s walls. Or even a way to shield certain species of ever-present electromagnetic radiation generated by ionic drives. Boots are often favored by how easily they can handle the rigors of space itself and covering feet. If a boot can quickly adapt to an air-tight seal for emergency spacewalks, it is almost certain a Spacer will favor it over any other choices.
Branding in Alien Fashion
Branding is somewhat of a minor concern among Spacers. While off-duty clothing can hail from various manufacturers, most critical parts in a Spacer’s look are produced by companies that make their trade-in space travel. It is not unusual for any ship manufacturer to have a division designated for clothing design that pushes the ship’s brand as an identity while also providing clothing that interfaces well with the ship.
It’s not unusual for a Spacer to have smart belts, watches, and ear implants that sync directly to the ship for constant updates. More often than not, Spacers are good about cobbling together functional clothing from existing materials and modifying whatever they have available.
This discussion is a simplification that does not factor in personal taste, aesthetics, or even cultural and biological necessities. Regardless, these large, overarching fashion tropes exist for a reason for Spacers. When so much of an individual’s life is spent working hard in space, they are likely to simplify, reuse, or tweak clothing to their specific needs. This, of course, is further complicated when looking at these factors militarily, which in and of itself is its own topic.
Alien Fashion: Landers
Thus we turn to the topic of Landers, who spend most of their time planetside. More often than not, this is because they cannot be Spacers. According to the Grey Science Council, statistically speaking, 70% of the galactic population is likely never to leave their home system in their lifetime. Of that percentage, it is likely 50% will never leave their homeworld.
As such, much of Lander fashion is grown from homeworld culture, and often Landers stick to cultural fashion trends. This, of course, is something to be explored in another entry. It should not be a shock that a Grey living within a predominantly Grey population will dress like other Grey. The same goes for nearly every race in our galaxy.
Curiously though, in the more cosmopolitan systems and planets, we see some dynamic trends in fashion that, not so surprisingly, stem from strong local economies, surplus disposable income, and highly expanded instances of trade. Any planet with a sizeable spaceport will likely see increased trade, serving as a radial point for an expanding and diverse population. Certain worlds, therefore, become astoundingly diverse to the point where the initial colonial presence is all but erased.
Teslovia, Red Rock, and Marunval, of course, serve as clear examples of this principle. As the galactic diva, Galaxitina Satruvetsky Quilxoss once said, “This is where fashion lives.” These worlds become colonies in and of themselves in the distribution of a variety of lander fashion. Take, for example, the Marunval system. Principally the system was a Gaur system, but as Marunval became a trade hub, materials, and designs radiated out from the port, across Marunval itself, to the other planets within the system.
The Drab vs. The Fab
This is where the concept of the drab versus the fab truly lies… the needs of Landers play more into the aesthetic, and as such most clothing becomes ornamental outside of the clothing that serves a specific, on-the-job need. Clothing becomes cultural, ceremonial, or elaborate and luxurious among the Lander population as the rigors of space travel do not apply to nearly 70% of the galactic population.
Colonists are in a unique position, however. Most colonists are Landers as they aim to settle on and occupy a planet and establish generational control, yet they require starships to achieve this. While most colonists bring their culture with them, by the time they land planetside, they have set those designs aside instead of adapting to the practical clothes of the spacer.
For those establishing a new colony, this is important because of the level of work required in erecting civilization on a new planet, but for most, it is almost a shift in their mind. It is as though their role in the galaxy has changed. They are no longer Landers or Spacers but something in between. This alien fashion is some transitionary element. It aims to create new Landers who can live comfortably and avoid the rigors that a small subset of the population endures.