By Patrick Lozada
Every year, America’s Star Trek fans dress up and attend the Las Vegas Star Convention by the thousands. Trekkies in Europe attend FedCon in Bonn, Germany or Espatrek in Spain. Yet in China, more than a billion people suffer the sad fate of having never dressed up like characters from the popular TV franchise.
I’m changing that.
It started when a buddy from college visited me in Shanghai, and we decided to fulfill our shared geek wet dream of getting a pair of cashmere Star Trek: Deep Space Nine uniforms tailored at the enormous Lujiabang Fabric Market. After some linguistic confusion reminiscent of the TNG episode “Darmok” with the tailor, we were left with a pair of very passable Star Trek jackets. I even got some compliments the few times I wore my red command uniform around the city; the local fried rice guy called me handsome.
A little while later, I had to drop my jacket off at the tailor to get some alterations made, and when I picked it up, I was surprised to see that the tailor had five nearly identical jackets hanging up around his shop.
Apparently, during the few days I had left the coat in the shop, a number of Chinese people had spotted my uniform and decided on the spot to have copies tailored. There was no way that they had been snapped up by closet Trekkies; Star Trek never really hit China, partly because of timing and partly because its dream of a post-national world full of white people doesn’t quite mesh with the picture of a rising China.
When I asked my
Cardassian tailor/spy Garak tailor Cao Bing why he thought they had wanted my jacket, he told me that they had wanted it because “the style was very special, very cool.” Some of my fashion followers had even added some embellishments – colored pockets matching the shoulders and some colors like Chartreuse and Purple that Starfleet Command might have objected to. It dawned on me – they thought of these cashmere jackets as an edgy fashion statement, not nerd strength lady repellent. My Star Trek uniform… was cool.
I have yet to see Chinese people wearing Star Trek uniforms at clubs around Shanghai, but stranger things have happened here. In the meantime, I am content with having added some accidental awesome to the streets of the city.