With their Starfleet 2364 jacket, Volante Design brought a streetwear sensibility to classic Star Trek style. They expertly adapted the classic and colorful Star Trek: The Next Generation uniform into a fashionable, moto-style jacket. Now they’re back with a homage to the uniforms of Star Trek: Discovery with their latest release, Starfleet 2256. Lead designer and president David Volante speaks more about Starfleet 2256 and how he was able to "make it sew."
Tell us about Volante Design. Why did you want to work with Star Trek?
Volante Design is a small fashion design company that I started almost by accident. I had been creating custom pieces based off of video games, anime, comic books, and other fandoms that inspired me and I found aesthetically pleasing. There’s not a ton of unique, nerdy clothing options for men — lots of hoodies and t-shirts — and I wanted to dress like I belonged in a video game or comic book. My work got popular on Tumblr and the company snowballed from there. The goal of Volante Design is to make you feel extraordinary, like the protagonist of your own adventure. It’s not cosplay; it’s about owning that power and feeling like your best self in your daily life. We say we make streetwear for superhumans. Wearability and durability is very important to us, along with that special... something that makes you feel great when you put on a coat or a vest.
I love a good story and I love clothing that tells a story. Star Trek has such great history behind it. The Starfleet universe is inspiring and their values really resonate with us, but I also love how Star Trek has been pushing boundaries since the beginning. Star Trek wasn’t afraid to feature a ground-breaking interracial kiss, or to reignite the franchise with a main character who isn’t in the Command division. Star Trek makes you want to be your best self, and that’s what I aim for Volante Design’s clothing to do as well.
How did you start your design process for Starfleet 2256?
Once we knew we were going to design jackets based off of Star Trek: Discovery, I re-watched episodes to take closer note of the details. I make sketches for some designs but not every one — it really depends on how clear my vision is to start — and for Discovery, I didn’t find the need to sketch. The uniforms already look like jackets and have very clear silhouettes, so it was easy for me to think ahead about the construction process. The challenge then was to pinpoint the elements that are unique to the uniforms on Discovery and translate them to a form that is suitable for daily wear.
What do you mean by that?
Well, the Discovery uniforms look great on screen. The metallic details translate perfectly for the medium and the setting, but I think they’re too bold for everyday life and not in line with the streetwear twist we like to offer. Volante Design is about interpreting items from various fandoms to be more fashion than costume; direct replicas are not wear we thrive. High-contrast topstitching is a signature of my design style and was a perfect fit for the Starfleet 2256 jacket, but we took that one step further with this design and matched the zippers to the thread which really makes that element pop.
Intricate pattern work is another pillar of our design style, so in place of the embroidered shoulder bars, we cut those bars as individual pieces and topstitched them. This has the added benefit of giving a natural structure to the shoulder silhouette as well as adding a bit of depth to the jacket, grounding it as a piece of clothing.
Aside from this design and your last Star Trek jacket, how has Star Trek influenced your design style?
I’d say that I have the same love of clean lines. Throughout the years, the Starfleet uniforms always look really sleek and often feature angular details or cuts. I want my designs to be functional and have that surprise factor, something different and cool you don’t notice at first. For example, Starfleet 2256 has a snap tab on the asymmetrical collar that folds back around when you wear the collar open. That way there’s no dangling closure tab when the collar is open, and it doesn’t ruin the clean lines of the collar.
Star Trek actually helped shape how we run Volante Design. As a small independent business, it’s important to us that we take care of our small team and to try and function with integrity. Willow Volante, our CEO, grew up watching The Next Generation and definitely felt inspired by Captain Picard as she navigated running and growing our fledgling company. We have a great team and a fantastic group of fans, and we’re always looking to do our best and listen to the needs of the many. Some of the best ideas can come that way. We added the inner badge pocket to Starfleet 2256 based on a customer suggestion after he purchased our TNG design, Starfleet 2364.
Most important question: What Discovery character do you feel the most affinity with?
I love most of the characters in the series, but I think the one who has had the strongest impact for me is Lt. Stamets. His passion for his work put him in a position to be the only one to truly understand its impact, and while he is careful to consider of the safety of others he always ends up putting himself on the line for the sake of progress.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Order your own Starfleet 2256 Jacket now - to shop the men's collection, shop here: Volante Design Men, to shop the women's collection, shop here: Volante Design Women. The Starfleet 2364 collection is also available at the StarTrek.com Shop.