Despite her conspicuous absence from toy merchandising and the backlash from a vocal minority angered by a Star Wars movie having a female lead, Rey (Daisy Ridley) was arguably the standout character from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The plot is centered primarily on her and reformed stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), and much of the fan discussion around the movie has to do with the unanswered question of who exactly she is and who left her behind on the desert planet of Jakku.
Presumably that question will be answered in Episode 8, which is rumored to have been retooled to focus more heavily on the characters returning from The Force Awakens. Until then, fan theories will abound. One question about Rey has now been answered, though: how did she end up with such a cool outfit?
The answer comes from Force Awakens costume designer Michael Kaplan, who had previously worked with director J.J. Abrams on his 2009 Star Trek reboot. Kaplan spoke to the wardrobe-focused website Clothes on Film and gave some insight into how Rey's outfit was designed. The first thing he took into consideration was Rey's backstory and environment:
"My job is to delineate characters based on information in the script. I took all the clues of her character (she is poor, she works as a scavenger, her work requires agility, climbing, she lives in a hot and bright desert climate, where the nights are probably cool, there are possibly sand storms, she rides a speeder). I took this information and from it I created elements of wardrobe appropriate to her character."
From there, Kaplan thought through how she could dress most effectively for the challenges she faced:
"It was important to me that everything on her body was there for a reason and not adornment. Her arms are wrapped for protection whilst climbing in wreckages, the long gauze crosspiece she wears can be used for climbing or wrapped around her face during dust storms, her head wrap is actually a jumper with long sleeves wrapped around her head; it keeps the sand out of her hair and is useful on chilly desert nights. The light colours are appropriate for the desert heat. The homemade goggles (made from old, scavenged Stormtrooper ‘eyes’) protect her eyes from dust, sand and sunlight on her speeder rides."
The final piece of the puzzle was how to put the whole thing together in one unified look, the biggest element of which were the sandy earth tones informed not only by the desert environment of Jakku, but by the colors of the rebellion as well:
"I created two definite colour palate and fabric-type divisions which I think clearly clarifies. The New Order colours are cold; black, shades of grey, teal blue and of course, white. The fabrics are polished wools, nylon and synthetics. The silhouettes are extremely heroic and hard-edged; think 1980s Theirry Mugler. The Rebel colour palate is earth tones; olive drab, rust, tan, ochre and shades of brown. The fabrics are natural; cotton, boiled wool, linen. The uniforms are rumpled and broken down."
Kaplan talks about designing costumes for other characters in the movie as well, making the article a fascinating read for those with an interest in the subject of movie wardrobes. Every element of the costumes for The Force Awakens was carefully designed, from the Nazi-esque outfits of the First Order to the fabric choice for Kylo Ren's cloak (woven cotton, by the way). No doubt many of those design choices will carry through to Episode 8, where fans will get another chance to see Rey develop both her Jedi powers and her sense of style.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now playing in theaters, and will be followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Clothes on Film