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Columbia’s Star Wars jackets let us dress like the rebel scum we are

Merchandising and Star Wars are as inseparable as candy and calories. And though we may question the necessity of Kylo Ren gummy snacks, Star Wars gear that can keep you warm and dry is of real value.

Thanks to a special partnership between Lucasfilm and sportswear maker Columbia, Star Wars fans who brave the cold this winter to line up for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will have the ultimate solution for staying warm, dry, and fashionable: a line of limited edition jackets inspired by costumes in the movie. Better yet, they’re coming out before it hits theaters.

The team at Columbia met with Rogue One’s costume designers to learn about the film, the characters, and their costumes. Debra Criss, Director of Apparel Design at Columbia, told Digital Trends that this was a perfect meeting of her skills; she studied costume design in school until making the switch to technical apparel halfway through.

“It was really exciting to see the actual costumes up close and learn more about the characters to help add more dimension to our jackets.”

“After we settled on the line concept, we carefully reviewed the actual jackets worn in Rogue One at a much closer detail,” said Criss. “It was really exciting to see the actual costumes up close and learn more about the characters to help add more dimension to our jackets. And I have to say, it was fantastic to meet the costume designers and to get their perspectives firsthand.”

Columbia expected that Lucasfilm would be protective of its first license with an outerwear maker, but the sportswear maker enjoyed creative freedom. It did, however, have input from the costume makers in areas where it counts.

“Our partners at Lucasfilm certainly reviewed the sketches and designs, and approved the final product, but I was thrilled with the level of creative license our team had,” Criss added. “In one instance that team recommended a slight color modification on the Jyn jacket to make it more inline with the actual costume. But generally, the Lucasfilm product team was really open to our perspective and this allowed us to incorporate our own Columbia touches and technologies into the pieces.”

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There are three jackets in the collection to suit a variety of conditions and styles; Digital Trends was fortunate to obtain final retail samples of each jacket.

Jyn Erso Rebel Jacket ($400)

The ladies offering is the Jyn Erso Rebel Jacket, made of stretch twill cotton with leather-like details throughout the garment. Distinctive trim on the left and right sleeves is an unmistakable Star Wars design element straight from the silver screen.

“The fact that it was such a challenge also makes it one of the best pieces we’ve produced.”

Really setting this jacket apart, while also tying its look closely to Sgt. Jyn Erso’s garb of choice, is the insulated quilted vest that layers on top of the jacket – but can also be detached and worn separately on those warmer occasions. The vest itself is beautifully detailed with quilting on the back, stitching on the front and collar, red-colored liner, and a leather Alliance patch. There’s also a front buckle at the bottom to match the original costume.

Both the jacket and the vest feature their own Columbia and Star Wars Rogue One branding on the inside liner.

The jacket has a fairly high cut, which enables a wide range of mobility, but at the cost of easily accessible pocket locations. Both the jacket and the vest have two chest pockets on each.

Criss has a clear fondness for Jyn Erso jacket, but also told us it was the most challenging piece of the collection to design. “It’s a two-piece jacket since the vest is removable, which makes it difficult to layer seamlessly. We also wanted it to look worn and somewhat ‘battle tested’ so each piece was pre-washed, which adds another level of complexity. But like most things in life, the fact that it was such a challenge also makes it one of the best pieces we’ve produced.”

The Jyn Erso Rebel Jacket, more so than the other pieces in the collection, is a fashion-centric piece that successfully replicates the iconic Star Wars look.

Imperial Death Trooper Jacket ($450)

For those with more imperialistic ambitions, the men’s Imperial Jacket is the shell for Death Troopers looking to stay dry even in the most torrential of downpours.

Although the jacket’s design is the furthest from an actual costume in Rogue One, it’s the most technical of the three and is based heavily on the Columbia Diamond Shell jacket thanks to the OutDry Extreme membrane fused to the entire construction, meaning water will never get in, but moisture from perspiration can freely evaporate.

“Columbia has never incorporated such a large amount of reflective in a single jacket before.”

The jacket seams are fully sealed and externally taped for further waterproofing, and waterproof zippers on the pockets will keep your gadgets dry. Two-way pit zips allow the wearer to customize the ventilation.

An Imperial Army shoulder detail is the mark of an allegiance to the Dark Side, but ironically the logo is reflective so the wearer can be better seen at night. Hopefully, that’ll help cut down on friendly fire, since few troopers have good aim. Even the inside logo patch is reflective, showing that this jacket really is evil inside as well as out.

“We used the reflective detailing on the Death Trooper Jacket to highlight the architecture of the Death Trooper costume and the sharp angles of the armor worn by Emperor’s soldiers,” detailed Criss. “We also used the reflective hits to symbolize the wearer’s transition to the Dark Side.”

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The Death Trooper jacket is stealthy in daylight, but those who venture out in the dark will find this piece to be plenty visible.

“We use similar reflectivity in our sportswear line but I can assure you, Columbia has never incorporated such a large amount of reflective in a single jacket before,” Criss revealed.

Considering that the Diamond Shell retails for $400, an extra $50 premium for the menacing all-black Death Trooper look with reflectivity seems entirely reasonable.

Captain Cassian Andor Rebel Parka ($500)

Like the Jyn Erso jacket, the Cassian Andor parka is an original product made by Columbia just for this line, but it’s built for warmth with the company’s TurboDown technology, a mix of synthetic insulation and natural down, making for a 700 fill rating. Furthering heat retention is Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology that reflects heat back to the inside of the jacket — so you won’t have to snuggle inside a Tauntaun for warmth ever again — and the Omni-Tech membrane to keep water out.

“Warm pockets, waterproofing…details people tend to appreciate in the winter months, regardless of what galaxy they live in.”

The parka has a large hood with a button-detachable faux fur trim that helps to keep the wind out of your face. Completing the captain’s look from Rogue One is a pleated trim that adorns the shoulders and sleeves, plus a real leather patch that will identify the wearer as part of the Rebel Alliance.

There are one inside and four outside pockets all with zippers, with the front left-hand pocket having a second zipped compartment, plus a place for accessories on the left arm. Sharp-looking complementary yellow stitching completes the look.

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While staying true to the source as much as possible, Columbia couldn’t have possibly included all the hardware accessories from the movie, but it did incorporate additional features that make it practical and comfortable for wearers wanting it to function as a real parka.

“As you can see in some of the images of the film, there is some serious hardware on the Jyn and Cassian pieces, and a few other details that we weren’t able to replicate in this version here on Earth,” Criss said. “And since Cassian’s jacket is a costume in the movie, he didn’t necessary need warm pockets, waterproofing, and other details that people tend to appreciate in the winter months, regardless of what galaxy they live in.”

More than any other jacket, the Captain Cassian Andor Rebel Parka is the best representation of the intersection between Star Wars and Columbia Sportswear. Among the Digital Trends staff, it was singled out for being both unique and applicable for real-world – though it’s worth noting that Portland had just experienced its first snowfall and frost of the season.

Gear for our galaxy

Columbia is careful to say that these jackets are “inspired” by the characters from Rogue One, but we’d say that’s only true for the Death Trooper hard shell. The Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor jackets incorporate so many key details from the movie costumes that they’d be considered shortcuts to cosplay.

Pricing ranges between $400 and $500, making them some of the more expensive — but also most practical — Star Wars products yet. These jackets aren’t a simple merchandising cash grab; Columbia says the jackets have the same “Tested Tough” promise as the rest of the company’s outerwear offerings.

The jackets will go on sale at midnight Pacific time on December 9, 2016 and will be available in select Columbia retail stores in the U.S at their local opening times. We’ve been told that supplies will be limited, so act quickly!