Blog RSS

From Childhood to Adulthood: The Story of the Star Trek "Retro" Shirt

Stardate: 1976, Aboard the Gulfstar Trawler PARAJACS IV

For me, '76 was all about playing “Star Trek” my friends. We ran around on green grass playing with Remco Phasers, blue on blue Mego Communicators, and wearing one of four department colored Starfleet Uniform shirts by Donmoor. Saturdays would start with an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series (by then syndicated, as its run had ended the year before), and after that all of the kids in our little neighborhood would beam down behind our homes to explore whatever new planet we decided the yard was that day. I was usually our group's Captain Kirk (most likely because I had the only gold uniform shirt, having sadly grown out of my favorite green Command "tunic").

That summer though, I found myself aboard my Grandfather's yacht, the ParaJacs IV on a Bicentennial Cruise around the Chesapeake Bay. I remember wearing my Gold Star Trek shirt as we made preparations to get underway. I remember wearing it while watching The Animated Series on the tiny TV in my Grandparent's cabin as the boat rested in her slip. But somewhere between stops on that cruise I lost my gold uniform shirt, and I never saw it again. That is until I was living in Oregon in 2004, thanks to a Trekkie living in Texas, her Mom in North Carolina, and a random eBay search.

I was a kid when I lost my gold Star Trek shirt, and I searched for it for years & years. I would even occasionally accuse my Mom of stashing it away wherever it is mothers keep momentos their kids have discarded as they grow up (sorry Mom). Honestly, the loss of that shirt drove me deeper into learning about Star Trek's costumes. Even as I studied everything I could about TOS' uniforms, and their designer William Ware Theiss - I never forgot about my long lost gold shirt. 

A few decades later, I wanted to add a similar gold shirt to my collection. Of course nothing could replace my lost original, but one would nicely fill that hole in my collection. I would occasionally cruise eBay for "Gold Children's Star Trek Shirt", but I was really just window shopping. Then one day in 2004 I found a listing for a shirt that matched mine almost precisely. Too precisely. It was the same size. There was a tiny hole on one sleeve that I remember snagging on a branch when I was a kid, and a subtle stain that I doubt anyone else would notice, that came from a drop of pancake syrup. The patch looked weird, but the listing explained that the mother of the shirt's owner had replaced the patch's flaked-off gold with gold thread. I contacted the owner (a nice lady in Texas), to ask where the shirt had come from? She told me that her mother who lived in northeast North Carolina had found it around 1991 in a second-hand store in a consignment lot of old furnishings & fittings from a boat, and that she'd repaired the patch and sent it to her in Texas. I called my Mom and learned that the PARAJACS had been sold around that same time, and had been moved to Columbia, North Carolina from her berth in Virginia Beach. I had been looking for A vintage gold Star Trek shirt, and had found MY vintage Star Trek shirt. Reunited, it now rests in a shadow box in my office a nearly a continent and over forty years removed from where I lost it. 

Our newest Gold Star Trek Shore Leave Shirt has been re-designed to bring it even closer in detail and continuity to that original shirt. Our first offering of these iconic products was great, but this run comes even closer to recreating the experience of owning one of the original vintage shirts. The colors are more accurate than ever, the collars are sharper, and the patch has been redesigned with embroidery that replicates the originals, with a larger gold edge surrounding the black outline of the classic Starfleet insignia. The reason for this extra edge was to simulate even how the original shirts aged over time. The vintage shirts had a bit of a gold edge to their patches too. As the shirts were worn, laundered, and worn again, the insignia's gold edge would curl and even fray a little bit. We hope that our new patches age in a similar way.

The desire to get these shirts "just right" will always be a thing we strive for with every run. And I imagine that we'll always tinker with them to bring them ever closer to a precise replica of the originals. Our research and design teams work diligently to capture the finest details in every product we make, and while these replicas are no different, they do benefit from the fact that once upon a time we lived in the originals. Not many can say that about an original TOS costume, but we and many of our friends out there can remember wearing the shirts this replica is based on. That's why we'll always try to make them just like they were when we were kids. 

Honestly, I think part of the reason we work so hard on these particular shirts is because I grew out of one, and lost the other. I've been trying to get back into those shirts in one form or other my whole life and so my "other family," my ANOVOS family - helped me achieve that dream. 

For so many of us, holding or wearing something from our favorite movies & tv shows IS wish fulfillment. It captures a moment in time from something we grew up loving and makes it "real" in a way that it wasn't before. That feeling is why we go to such lengths to try and get things right. Our Star Trek: The Original Series short-sleeved Starfleet Uniform Shirt in Command Gold is part of our retro-styled “Shore Leave Collection,” and can be found here:

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to go watch Star Trek with my daughter as we pretend our landing party has encountered danger on an unexplored planet. 





John Cooley September 16, 2019 0 tags (show)