Hollywood often envisions astronauts of the future in bulky, bulbous get-ups—more deep-sea diver than trendsetter—but the new design by Adidas Y-3 for Virgin Galactic looks instead to the sleek, fitted jumpsuits of race car drivers for inspiration. Eventually all astronauts, pilots, operations and maintenance teams, and hosting staff of Richard Branson's consumer spaceline will don the custom pieces.
Virgin Galactic opted to work with the Yohji Yamamoto–fronted brand since it's known for experimenting with high-performance fabrics and functional, tailored fits. In a statement, Adam Wells, who's head of design at Virgin Galactic, said that the company needed innovative attire "that is appropriately functional and fit-for-purpose, is thoughtfully and elegantly crafted, and is fulfilling and fun to wear and use."
Fabric in the suits is woven from Nomex, an engineered heat- and flame-resistant material that's used in firefighters' gear, military uniforms, and race car drivers' suits. In fact, the prototype riffs on an experimental NASCAR suit that Adidas's innovation department was developing. The fit is tailored to be comfortable when worn for long periods sitting down and there's a little stretch in the fabric to accommodate movement. Since shoes complete the outfit, Adidas is creating a version of its GSG-9.2 boots—which SWAT teams wear, according to the brand.
The Y-3 designs look futuristic, but in a way that looks back to the tradition of high-end fashion houses creating custom uniforms for travel personnel. Balmain began designing for Singapore Airlines in 1968; retro airline Braniff worked with Halston and Pucci for its uniforms.
While the prototype suit is tailored for men, an Adidas Y-3 spokesperson told Glamour that a women's versions will be made. Let's just hope Adidas's pieces don't injure the wearer, like the Vivienne Westwood–designed attire for Virgin Atlantic's flight attendants.